Sky Saxon, lead singer and founder of the 1960s band the Seeds, which had a Top 40 hit in 1967 with "Pushin' Too Hard," died Thursday at a hospital in Austin, Texas, after a brief illness. He was believed to be in his 60s.
Publicist Jen Marchand said in a news release that Saxon died of heart and kidney failure after an "undiagnosed infection of his internal organs."
The Seeds sprang up in Los Angeles in 1965, and their garage-band sound became a favorite of the flower-power generation. Another hit single of 1967 was "Can't Seem to Make You Mine," and their song "Mr. Farmer" was included in the soundtrack for the movie "Almost Famous."
Saxon's Mick Jagger-influenced vocals dominated the sound of the band that was rounded out by guitarist Jan Savage, keyboardist Daryl Hooper and drummer Rick Andridge.
A 1967 Times review of their album "A Web of Sound" noted that the Seeds had "been adopted by the hippies -- the flower children -- because of their open-ended songs which generally skirt neatly plotted thoughts and didacticism."
The album included a 14-minute song called "Up in Her Room" that featured a lengthy improvisational jam session.
The Seeds disbanded in 1969, and the eccentric Saxon recorded with other musicians over the years. He joined a commune called the Source Family and moved to Hawaii for a time, but in the last several years he performed with retro psychedelia shows at the Knitting Factory and other Southern California venues.
Various sources cite conflicting birth dates for Saxon, who was born Richard Marsh and grew up in Utah. He moved to Los Angeles and recorded first as Little Richie Marsh, then fronted the bands Soul Rockers and Electra Fires.
Saxon had recently moved to Austin, where he played with his new band, Shapes Have Fangs. He had been planning to perform this summer with the California '66 Revue, a tour featuring a lineup of California bands from the 1960s.
Saxon's survivors include his wife, Sabrina. His ashes will be scattered in Hawaii, according to a news release.