Mars Williams, Saxophonist of The Psychedelic Furs, Passes Away at 68

Published November 21, 2023

The music world is mourning the loss of a renowned saxophonist, Mars Williams, at the age of 68. Most noted for his time with The Psychedelic Furs, Williams' recent passing follows a tough year-long fight against ampullary cancer, which impacts the bile duct and pancreas. His death was announced to the public by his family through a GoFundMe campaign initially set up to help with his medical expenses.

Remembering Mars Williams

Born on May 29, 1955, in Elmhurst, Illinois, Williams spent the majority of his life contributing to the Illinois music scene. Moving from 'Marc' to 'Mars' during the 1970s, he sought fame in New York City's bustling live rock scene and achieved it in the subsequent decades. He not only performed with The Psychedelic Furs during their peak in the late 1980s but rejoined them in 2005 and continued to tour with them until his final days.

A Musical Journey

Williams' career spanned various genres and collaborations. Before his longest stint with The Psychedelic Furs, he was part of The Waitresses in the early 1980s. During the 1990s, he delved into funk with the group Liquid Soul, earning a Grammy nomination in 2001—an accolade that highlighted his vast contributions to music. Known for his versatility, Williams was praised for his spirited approach to playing the saxophone and his ability to redefine the instrument's role in modern music, as noted by fellow musician John Zorn.

In addition to his band engagements, Williams performed with notable artists such as Billy Idol and Ministry, and he was deeply rooted in Chicago's improvisational jazz scene. Despite his diagnosis, Williams demonstrated his passion for music by continuing to perform, even touring with The Psychedelic Furs in his final months.

The Legacy of a Saxophone Legend

As the music community reflects on Williams' life and legacy, the energy and humor he brought to his performances will not be forgotten. An upcoming benefit concert in Chicago that was initially organized to support his treatment will now serve as a celebration of his life, continuing to bring people together in honor of his impactful career.

saxophonist, loss, legacy