Psychedelic Furs Saxophonist And Jazz Musician Mars Williams Passes Away At 68

CHICAGO (CelebrityAccess) – The saxophonist for the Psychedelic Furs and the Waitresses, Mars Williams, passed away Monday (November 20) in Chicago. William’s brother, Paul Williams, confirmed his death to The Chicago Tribune. A cause of death has not been revealed; however, the Tribune reports Williams died from ampullary cancer, a rare form affecting the area around the small intestine. Williams was diagnosed with the disease nearly a year ago. He was 68.

His family released a statement saying he died “surrounded by family and friends, both in person and around the world, who held him close and loved him dearly. Until the end, Mars’ inexhaustible humor and energy and his love for music pushed him forward.”

When it was revealed to Williams that his treatment options were over, he decided to spend time on the road with the Psychedelic Furs, doing what he loved best. The family statement continued, “Those last performances with the Psychedelic Furs will live on with all of the other incredible contributions that Mars has made as a person and as a musician, and that boundless energy will continue to inspire.”

Born in 1956, Williams was a clarinetist in high school. He attended De Paul University for classical training. After being mentored by Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the musician ventured to New York City for the late ’70s downtown jazz scene.

Williams performed with the new wave band the Waitresses from 1980 – 1983. He joined the Psychedelic Furs in 1983 before leaving them in 1989 and rejoining the group in 2005. Williams had toured with the band as recently as this year. Among the other acts Williams performed with are Billy Idol, the Killers, Ministry, Dirty Projectors and Jerry Garcia.

Even in his 60s, Williams remained constantly in the Chicago scene. A benefit show paying tribute to Williams and raising money for the Mars Williams Medical Treatment Cancer Fund is set for November 25 at Chicago’s Metro venue.

The Music for Mars show will feature performances from Liquid Soul, the Joe Marcinek Band and Jesse De La Pena, with appearances by the Furs’ Richard Butler, Zachary Alford and Rich Good. Also scheduled for the event are Guns N’ Roses’ Richard Fortus, Dave Matthews Band’s Jeff Coffin and Ike Reilly.

Williams is survived by his mother, Hilda Williams of Chicago, sisters Michele (Miki) of Oak Park and Suzy of Santa Barbara, California, and brother Paul of Chicago.

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