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Ben Patterson has died

US musician Ben Patterson, who participated in the first Fluxus Internationale Festspiele Neuester Musik, has died aged 82

US musician and Fluxus member Ben Patterson died on 25 June at his home in Wiesbaden, Germany. He was 82 years old.

Patterson was born in Pittsburgh in 1934. He studied at the University of Michigan between 1952–56. As a double bassist he played with Halifax Symphony Orchestra, The Seventh Army Symphony and Ottawa Philharmonic Orchestra, before moving to Cologne in 1960. Over the next two years he performed in Paris, Venice and Vienna. Most significantly, he also participated in the first Fluxus Internationale Festspiele Neuester Musik (or Fluxus International Festival Of Very New Music) in Wiesbaden, in September 1962, alongside key participants such as Yoko Ono, Dick Higgins, Nam June Paik, Emmett Williams, Alison Knowles and Philip Corner. At the event, Patterson performed his recently composed Variations For Double Bass – involving plastic butterflies, rope made from rags, and pieces of wire. “In another variation I use a stomach pump to rid the instrument of any foreign bodies,” he once said, as quoted in Julian Cowley’s Fluxus Primer in The Wire 230.

In 1965 Patterson returned to New York where he took a 20 year public break from music. He returned to the scene in 1987, holding his first solo exhibition at Emily Harvey Gallery in New York.

Ben Patterson and Keith Rowe performing at the 15th Annual LMC concert at the ICA London December 2006.