Kevin Coyne

1944–2004

Ian Breakwell, ‘Black and white photograph of Kevin Coyne sitting in an armchair’ [c.1978]
Black and white photograph of Kevin Coyne sitting in an armchair [c.1978]
© The estate of Ian Breakwell and © Felicity Sparrow
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In Tate Britain

Biography

Kevin Coyne (27 January 1944 – 2 December 2004) was an English musician, singer, composer, film-maker, and a writer of lyrics, stories and poems. The "anti-star" was born in Derby, England, and died in his adopted home of Nuremberg, Germany.

Coyne is notable for his unorthodox style of blues-influenced guitar composition, the intense quality of his vocal delivery, and his bold treatment of injustice to the mentally ill in his lyrics. Many influential musicians have described themselves as Coyne fans, among them Sting and John Lydon. In the mid-1970s, prior to the formation of the Police, Coyne's band included guitarist Andy Summers. Prominent BBC disc jockey and world music authority Andy Kershaw described Coyne as "a national treasure who keeps getting better" and as one of the great British blues voices.

Over many years Coyne produced the distinctive art work for many of his own album covers but his move to Germany, in the 1980s, saw his work on full-size paintings blossom in its own right.

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