Coxe was born on June 4, 1938 in the mountains of East Tennessee and was raised in New Orleans. Coxe used to sneak into the Rampart Street Clubs to watch Fats Domino and Big Mama Thornton as a child, according to the band's official bio. As a teenager, he moved to New York to work as an artist, with his work appearing at the Museum of Modern Art even as his efforts failed to pay the bills. His next move was to Connecticut, where he worked as a dishwasher and jammed with the waiters and busboys on bluegrass tunes as The Random Concept.
He formed Silver Apples in 1967 with Dan Taylor on drums and Coxe playing a homemade synthesizer "consisting of 12 oscillators and an assortment of sound filters, telegraph keys, radio parts, lab gear and a variety of second hand electronic junk," according to the bio. The pair became leaders of the New York underground musical scene and released their self-titled debut on KAPP Records in 1968, followed by Contact the next year.
They recorded a third album in 1970, but their label folded and they were not heard from again until 1994, when German label TRC re-released their first two albums as a double CD -- reportedly without securing the proper license. Though their creative peak was brief, the group's echo was long-lived, with everyone from Stereolab to Portishead, Spiritualized, Suicide and Laika all citing the group as musical influences. A tribute album, Electronic Evocations -- A Tribute to the Silver Apples, was released in 1996 featuring covers by Windy & Carl, Scaredycat, Third Eye Foundation, Sabine, Outrageous Cherry, Amp and Tranquil.
Coxe rebooted the band in 1996, recording and performing with a variety of musicians and admirers through Taylor's death at 56 in 2005. Coxe continued performing under the Silver Apples name with Taylor's drumming recreated with a drum machine. A new Silver Apples album, Clinging to a Dream, was released in 2016.
Check out a tribute from Portishead's Geoff Barrow and a classic Silver Apples track below.