Matthew Seligman, the highly inventive bassist for The Soft Boys who went on to record with Thomas Dolby, Thompson Twins, The Waterboys, Peter Murphy, Morrissey and more, and who played with David Bowie at Live Aid, died Friday after being in a coma for two weeks with COVID-19, his longtime friend Dolby announced on social media.
Earlier Friday, Dolby shared news on Facebook from guitarist and longtime mutual friend Kevin Armstrong that Seligman, 63, “has suffered a catastrophic haemorrhagic stroke from which he won’t recover.” Seligman, Dolby wrote, had been on a ventilator in a medically induced coma for two weeks after begin admitted to St. George’s Hospital in London with COVID-19.
“I don’t have words,” Dolby wrote. Six hours later, he posted a two-word follow-up: “Matthew’s gone.”
Robyn Hitchcock, who played with Seligman in The Soft Boys and on his solo albums Black Snake Diamond Röle, Groovy Decay and Invisible Hitchcock, wrote his own tribute to the bassist on Facebook.
“I’m profoundly grateful to have played music with him — you could really see his face light up like a full moon when he listened back to a take he enjoyed. Onstage he would lope and lurch and pace when the music moved him. Matthew is, was, and always will be one of the greats.”
Seligman’s career as a bassist begin with Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club, a band that also featured Dolby. After playing on that band’s 1979 debut, he left and joined The Soft Boys, replacing Andy Metcalfe and performing on the band’s classic second album Underwater Moonlight. “A joyous and funky bass player, he made Underwater Moonlight an exuberant LP to record and listen to,” Hitchcock wrote in his tribute.
After the break-up of The Soft Boys, Seligman rejoined Dolby in the short-lived act The Fallout Club, then joined the Thompson Twins for a couple years. He’d go on to join Dolby’s solo band, playing on the hit single “She Blinded Me With Science” and Dolby’s albums The Golden Age of Wireless and The Flat Earth.
As a session musician, Seligman played bass on Bowie’s “Labyrinth” soundtrack and the song “Absolute Beginners,” as well as albums and singles by The Waterboys (This Is the Sea), Transvision Vamp (Pop Art), Tori Amos (Little Earthquakes), former Soft Boys bandmate Kimberley Rew (The Bible of Bop), Morrissey (“Ouija Board, Ouija Board”), Peter Murphy (Love Hysteria) and more.
“My heart goes out to his partner, Mami; his children Daisy and Lily, and all who were close to him and his lunar intensity,” Hitchcock wrote.
Below, read the moving tributes to Seligman from some of his bandmates and friends — and hear some of his most memorable musical contributions.
RIP the wonderful Matthew Seligman. My true friend and brother since 1980. pic.twitter.com/tB9yMf7RFw
— Kevin Armstrong (@kevarmst) April 17, 2020
“Pop music is about overstating the obvious” – Matthew Seligman, July 14 1955 – April 17 2020
— Robyn Hitchcock (@RobynHitchcock) April 18, 2020
Rest in power, Matthew Seligman. Soft Boy forever. Fuck this virus. pic.twitter.com/XYxXfWLNKD
— colin meloy (@colinmeloy) April 18, 2020
My friend Matthew Seligman has died of this shitty bug. He was a top bassist, a human rights solicitor & just a lovely human. He played with many great people. We were all very proud of him when he backed Bowie at Live Aid. He had a lovely smile, & real kindness. So sad. pic.twitter.com/tjnLNVKe8Y
— Neil McCormick (@neil_mccormick) April 18, 2020