Saxophonist Mars Williams, who played in The Waitresses and The Psychedelic Furs, among others, died on Monday (11/20) in Chicago from ampullary cancer, as reported in The Chicago Tribune. He was 68.
Born in 1955 in Chicago, Williams was a star clarinetist in high school and went to De Paul University for classical training but soon became interested in rock and free jazz. After being mentored by Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell of Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, he eventually made his way to New York City in the late ’70s just in time for the downtown jazz scene.
At the same time, he was also playing in rock bands and was a formative member of new wave greats The Waitresses, playing on on all their classic records — including “I Know What Boys Like,” “No Guilt,” and “Christmas Wrapping” — through the band’s breakup in 1983. From there he joined The Psychedelic Furs and stayed with them through 1989. He would rejoin the band in 2005 and stayed with them through his death.
Williams also led fusion ensemble Liquid Soul since the ’90s and over the years played with Ken Vandermark, Peter Brötzmann, Hal Russell, Billy Idol, the Power Station, Billy Squier, Massacre, Ministry, Die Warzau and many more.
Rest easy, Mars.