Kevin Coyne was a musician, singer, composer, film-maker, and a writer of lyrics, stories and poems. The former "anti-star" was born on 27 January 1944 in Derby, UK, and died in his adopted home of Nuremberg, Germany, on 2 December 2004.
Coyne is notable for his unorthodox style of blues-influenced guitar composition, the intense quality of his vocal delivery, and his bold treatment of injustice to the mentally ill in his lyrics. Many influential music figures have called themselves fans of Coyne's work, among them Sting and John Lydon. In the mid-1970s his band included guitarist Andy Summers prior to the formation of The Police. Prominent BBC disc jockey and world music authority Andy Kershaw described Coyne as, variously, "a national treasure who keeps getting better" and as one of the great British blues voices.
Coyne produced the distinctive art work for many of his own album covers over the years, but his move to Germany in the 1980s saw his work on full size paintings blossom in its own right.
As a teen and young adult Coyne studied at the Joseph Wright School of Art from 1957 to 1961 and then studied graphics and painting at Derby School of Art from 1961 to 1965. There he met Nick Cudworth (piano, acoustic guitar). His love of American bluesmen developed, as did his songcraft and his guitar and vocal talents.
At the conclusion of his arts training, Coyne began the work that would change him forever - he spent the three years, from 1965 to 1968, working as a social therapist and psychiatric nurse at Whittingham Hospital near Preston in Lancashire and then for "The Soho Project" in London as a drugs counsellor. During this period of working with the mentally ill, he performed regularly. Subsequently, his musical aspirations took precedence and he signed a record deal in 1969.
Joined by Dave Clague (bass, acoustic guitar, ex-Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band), Coyne's band got an early break as a result of a demo heard by John Peel, who in 1969 signed them to his Dandelion Records label. At first billed as Coyne-Clague (an early Dandelion release erroneously named them just "Clague"), the band soon altered its name to Siren.
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