A Journey Through Mars Williams’ Impactful Career
Mars Williams, the acclaimed saxophone player known for his contributions to iconic bands like the Waitresses and the Psychedelic Furs, passed away on Monday (20 November 2023) at the age of 68. The Chicago Tribune confirmed the news, revealing that he succumbed to ampullary cancer, a rare diagnosis he received a year ago. Williams’ musical legacy is marked by his distinctive saxophone sound, which left an indelible mark on both the new wave and jazz scenes.
Jazz Fusion and Collaborations: Williams’ Diverse Musical Palette
While Williams gained recognition for his work with the Waitresses and the Psychedelic Furs, his extensive musical journey traversed the realms of jazz, experimental ensembles, and collaborations with a myriad of artists. From his 25-year tenure with the Grammy-nominated Liquid Soul to performances with Billy Idol, the Killers, and Jerry Garcia, Williams showcased unparalleled versatility. His commitment to pushing musical boundaries extended to annual “Ayler Xmas Tours,” blending free-jazz pioneer Albert Ayler’s compositions with the spirit of Christmas carols.
In addition to his prowess on the saxophone, Williams‘ sobriety journey spanning two decades and his dedication to supporting fellow musicians through programs like MusiCares added a compassionate dimension to his legacy. As the music community mourns his loss, a benefit concert originally planned for his medical care will now become a celebration-of-life event, featuring prominent artists like Richard Butler, Zachary Alford, Rich Good, Ike Reilly, and Jeff Coffin.
Mars Williams’ impact on the world of music remains immeasurable, his enthusiasm for the art evident in every note he played. The saxophone virtuoso leaves behind a rich tapestry of sonic exploration that will continue to resonate with fans and fellow musicians alike.