- The musician died Monday morning after a year-long battle with ampullary cancer.
- He was diagnosed with a rare disease, a cancer that forms in the digestive system, in December 2022.
- He is known for being the saxophonist for the new wave bands The Psychedelic Furs and The Waitresses.
Mars Williams has died at the age of 68.
It was reported that the famous saxophonist died Monday morning from ampullary cancer, a rare disease he was diagnosed with about a year ago.
His family shared a statement and said he was “surrounded by family and friends” at the time of his death.
The musician was diagnosed with ampullary cancer in December 2022, as revealed in the GoFundMe set up by his family to help cover treatment costs.
His loved ones shared a statement on the same account to announce his tragic passing and share that he had spent the last six weeks doing what he loved most: “on the road, performing night after night” with The Psychedelic Furs.
Ampullary cancer is a rare form of cancer that forms in an area of the digestive system called the ampulla of Vater, according to the Mayo Clinic.
He was best known for being a member of the short-lived punk-new wave band The Waitresses from 1980 to 1983.
He also played saxophone for The Psychedelic Furs for about six years in the ’80s before joining the group in 2005.
“Dear friends,” the statement began. “It is with great sadness that we send this message to let the many people who loved and supported Mars Williams know that he passed away earlier today after a year-long battle with cancer.”
His loved ones shared that at the time of his passing, Williams was “surrounded by family and friends, in person and around the world, who held him close and loved him dearly.”
“Until the end, Mars’ endless humor and energy, as well as his love for music, kept him going,” he continues.
The statement also revealed: “As it became clear in late summer that his treatment options were coming to an end, he chose to spend six weeks of his remaining time living as he had since his adolescence – on the road to play. night after night.’
“These latest performances with the Psychedelic Furs will live on alongside all the other incredible contributions Mars has made as a person and as a musician, and this boundless energy will continue to inspire,” the statement read.
Williams’ family and friends also said they would plan a celebration of the life of Williams, “someone who was a hero to so many.”
According to the GoFundMe set up by the Williams family earlier this year, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, ampullary cancer – “in which a tumor grows near the bile ducts and pancreas” – in late December 2022.
He underwent major surgery the following month and had to stay in hospital for three weeks to recover from the operation.
In March, he began a six-month course of chemotherapy – which he completed in September.
“Despite these challenges, his attitude is completely optimistic and he approaches this like everything else in his life – head on,” read the statement written earlier this year.
In 1955, Williams was born in Evanston, Illinois, where he played clarinet as a youth and later studied jazz at DePaul University.
He eventually moved to New York and began performing with The Waitresses for three short years and eventually with The Psychedelic Furs.
The latter group made music and toured together from 1983 to 1989 before breaking up.
In 2005, Williams reunited with the band and explained how they “put our resentments behind us” to reunite the band in an interview with Penny Black Music four years later.
“I came back to the Furs in 2005,” he explained to the media. “We were all older. We had been friends for so long. We put our resentments behind us.
He added that he “loved” being back with his bandmates and playing with the band,
During his decades-spanning career, he also performed with the Grammy-nominated jazz funk band Liquid Soul for approximately 20 years, and has performed and recorded with artists including Billy Idol, Jerry Garcia and The Killers.