Space Blues
The musical career of Jeff Cotton

Jeff Cotton, The Exiles, The Magic Band & MU

Early Years
Between Exile & Magic
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Larry Willey

On 17th July 2002 Larry's body was found in the desert, he had been shot several times. There appears to have been no motive for his killing and at the time of writing - almost two months later - no one has been arrested for his murder.

Everyone who knew him are deeply shocked by this violent end to a gentle guy. Jeff had this to say about his old friend:-

I have a deep respect for him not only as a person with an amazing sense of humor, but as one of the best vocalists and an exquisite musician.

and Don Aldridge told me:-

How anyone could ever hurt him, is beyond my understanding. I am still in shock. Larry was nobody's pushover, but he wasn't violent...

Like many of the people mentioned in these pages Larry was from Lancaster. He joined The Exiles on bass and played with them on and off between 1965 and 1967, latterly with Randy Wimer on drums.

When Jeff reconnected with Merrell again after his time with the Magic Band they began playing together with Larry on bass and Randy on drums. This was the band that would eventually become MU and record that stunning first album and a couple of singles together. Larry's strong voice adding extra texture to the harmonies.

When it came down to it Larry's interests were probably different to the rest of the band and he didn't want to relocate to Maui in 1973 so he stayed on the mainland. It seemed he carried on playing locally in a number of bands during the 70s and 80s. He usually teamed up with Michael Marler, often with Phillip Armitage on drums.

Larry was a country boy at heart, and he apparently played some very good Country-crossover music into the mid-80s. Although musically talented he seemed to lack the confidence to write his own songs. Don Aldridge recalls being asked to show him how to write but then one night he and Marler showed up with two of the "nicest original tunes I'd heard in years! And, get this, he still didn't think he could write!".

However, by 1985 Larry had all but quit playing and, to pay the bills, worked in construction which had always been his day job.

What happened in the intervening years I've not been able to find out, although it is possible he may have been homeless at the time of his death.

One of Larry's songs Papa Told Me with him singing and playing bass can be found on Merrell Fankhauser's 1995 album Jungle Lo Lo Band.


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