Francis Monkman isn't with us anymore. He passed away on May 12th, 2023, at the age of 73.
He was a founding member and keyboard player of UK prog rockers Curved Air and classical/rock crossover band Sky. Following his departure from both Curved Air and Sky, Monkman also had a long and distinguished career composing film music in the 1980s, notably for 1980s The Long Good Friday as well as performing on soundtracks for The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders Of The Lost Ark. He worked with Renaissance, Al Stewart and both Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno on 801, and his 1981 progressive rock solo album featured a contribution from Camel's Andy Latimer.
Curved Air said in a statement: "The members of Curved Air are sad to announce the passing of original founder member Francis Monkman on the 12th May 2023. Francis passed away peacefully at his home in the English countryside, shortly after a late stage diagnosis of cancer, with his loved ones by his side. Francis played on the band’s first three studio albums and then moved on to co-found Sky and play on that band’s platinum-selling debut album and its follow up Sky 2. Francis is also known for his playing synthesiser on the scores to The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Superman II and two of the James Bond movies, The Spy Who Loved Me and Live and Let Die. Francis’ score for The Long Good Friday has the avid admiration of film fans in its own right. Later in his career, Francis followed his passion for harpsichord and organ playing. He travelled around Europe supporting the work to restore historic organs and he was particularly proud to have played at the Bach-Stammhaus. If Francis found out there were Curved Air fans in the audience he’d sneak part of Piece Of Mind into his playing of Bach’s music with great feeling. He’d recently released a solo album called The Bach Family. Francis is survived by two brothers, nieces and nephews, cousins, his partner Christine and as a deeply spiritual person he is now reunited with his late 5 year old daughter, Maya, on the other side".
Singer of Curved Air, Sonja Kristina, added: "During the lunar eclipse on May 5th, Francis Monkman and I shared a last wonderfully vibrant conversation about our music, life and death - and the fine musicians who keep alive the legacy of Curved Air over 50 years and beyond. I told him how proud I was to be still performing our beautiful songs, that his passion for sonic adventure was ground breaking and his lyrics fine and eloquent - notably on Over And Above and Piece Of Mind - his Curved Air extended masterpieces."
Former Curved Air violin player Darryl Way added: "He was a deeply spiritual and kind man who was sensitive and inquisitive about the human condition and the world we live in. I will miss him deeply. We weren't on the phone to each other all the time, but just knowing that he was in the world and creating his wonderful music, was comfort enough".