Published Apr 18, 2020Matthew Seligman, the rock bassist best known for his work with the Soft Boys and for playing with David Bowie at Live Aid, has died of COVID-19 complications. He was 64.
His death was reported by Soft Boys bandmate Robyn Hitchcock and longtime collaborator Thomas Dolby.
In a Facebook post written yesterday (April 17), from his home in Nashville, Hitchcock eulogized his former bandmate, writing:
I'm writing this as Matthew Seligman slips out of this life and into wherever souls go next. Everybody goes, but none of us were expecting Matthew to leave us so abruptly, forever. It is strange and very sad to be talking of him in the past tense. I first met Matthew in 1976 in Cambridge, just before the beginning of the Soft Boys. He had nice dark hair and was very charming, with a slight break in his voice. A joyous and funky bass player, he made Underwater Moonlight an exuberant LP to record and listen to. His manic bass run at the end of "Insanely Jealous" and his stately propeller dive into the last chorus of the title track, as well as the insistent groove he brought to "Kingdom of Love" are some of the finest bass playing I have ever witnessed.
Matthew truly believed in the Soft Boys and the record. It was early 1980 and the second Cold War was intensifying. I fondly remember stomping over to the pub after a session and him saying through the dismal spring wind, "We may all be about to be blown up, but at least we'll have made a classic album."
The band didn't survive too long into the bleak 1980s, but Matthew found a home as a bass player in many great musical shells. The Thompson Twins, David Bowie, Morrissey and Chrissie Hynde were all lucky beneficiaries of his intuitive and circular grooves.
As well as bass playing, he specialized in one-liners. "Pop music is about over-stating the obvious" and "What you've proved to the music industry is that you can't sell records" are two of my favourites.
I'm profoundly grateful to have played music with him - you could really see his face light up like a full moon when he listened back to a take he enjoyed. Onstage he would lope and lurch and pace when the music moved him. Matthew is, was, and always will be one of the greats. My heart goes out to his partner, Mami; his children Daisy and Lily, and all who were close to him and his lunar intensity.
Dolby shared the details of Seligman's illness by way of guitarist Kevin Armstrong, who joined Dolby and Seligman in Bowie's Live Aid band. Dolby wrote:
Very sad news from Kevin Armstrong just now:
"Friday: Matthew Seligman has suffered a catastrophic haemorrhagic stroke from which he won't recover. It is expected that he will not survive longer than 12/24 hours. His ventilator will be gradually withdrawn until the inevitable end. I am so sad to have to bear this terrible news. I have loved him as a friend and a fellow musician for 40 years."
Matthew has been on a ventilator in an induced coma for two weeks, after being admitted to St George's London with Covid-19. He has a partner and two kids living in Wimbledon. Kevin has been liaising with them. He has no other close relatives, as his parents are gone and his brother passed away a month ago.
I don't have words.
I will update this group when I know any more.