Maxi Jazz, British Singer and DJ, Has Died at Age 65
British singer, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter Maxi Jazz died on Saturday, according to a social media post made by his bandmates. He co-founded the electronic music group Faithless in 1995, which saw massive success in the UK and Europe, and scored three number one hits on the U.S. dance charts with “Salva Mea,” “Insomnia” and “God is a DJ.” The cause of death was not given. He was 65 years old.
“We are heartbroken to share that Maxi died peacefully in his sleep last night. Sending love to all of you who shared our musical journey. Look after each other y’hear,” Faithless member Sister Bliss shared on Twitter after the initial announcement was made.
“He was a man who changed our lives in so many ways. He gave proper meaning and message to our music,” Faithless said in a separate statement. “He was also a lovely human being with time for everyone and a wisdom that was both profound and accessible,” the band continued, “He was a brilliant lyricist, a DJ, a Buddhist, a magnificent stage presence, car lover, endless talker, beautiful person, moral compass and genius.”
Born Maxwell Fraser in London, he emerged as Maxi Jazz in the 1980s club scene by DJing on pirate radio. His first group, Maxi Jazz and the Soul Food Café System, blended hip hop with funk, and saw a degree of success in Europe. He later formed Faithless with keyboardist Sister Bliss, singer Jamie Catto, and producer Rollo in 1995, attracting immediate attention for their trancelike grooves and Jazz’s vocal counterpoint. On the worldwide hit “Insomnia,” his chant of “I can’t get no sleep” colliding with a strobe of synthesizer chords made for an irresistible call to the dance floor. He also looked real cool in the video.
But maybe even cooler performing it live.
Faithless’s subsequent 1990s work saw incredible success, with multiple gold and platinum singles throughout Europe, particularly for the track “God is a DJ.” Singer and music video director Catto quit the group in 1999 to form 1 Giant Leap. In 2002, Jazz guested on a 1 Giant Leap track, “My Culture,” that also featured Robbie Williams. The music video was nominated for a Grammy, Jazz’s sole recognition by the Recording Academy.