Soft Machine

Essential Albums

Artist Playlists

About Soft Machine

Soft Machine are one of the most innovative bands to come out of England in the ’60s. Besides being the most influential British jazz-rockers ever, they started an entire subgenre, the Canterbury sound. As Canterbury teens, various members played with future Gong mastermind Daevid Allen before forming rockers The Wilde Flowers. The first Soft Machine lineup in 1966 included Allen on guitar, singer/drummer Robert Wyatt, keyboardist Mike Ratledge, and singer/bassist Kevin Ayers, and bore a contemporary British rock sound. By their self-titled 1968 debut album, Allen was gone and the trio had developed a wildly original, highly experimental sound incorporating jazz, psychedelia, and proto-prog. Over the course of Volume Two and the classic Third they moved increasingly towards jazz-rock fusion. Throughout their career, Soft Machine had countless personnel changes, the biggest being Wyatt’s departure following 1971’s Fourth. Many musical giants passed through the band, including guitarists Andy Summers and Allan Holdsworth and bassist Hugh Hopper. By the last album of their initial run in 1981, no original members remained. Multiple offshoots followed; Soft Machine officially resumed activity in 2015, featuring mid-’70s members rather than the ’60s lineup.

Canterbury, England
September 1966
Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada