Maxi Jazz, frontman of British dance legends Faithless, dies aged 65

Maxi Jazz
(Image credit: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage)

Maxi Jazz, frontman of British dance act Faithless, has died aged 65.

Sister Bliss, a core member of the group alongside Jazz and Rollo Armstrong, has confirmed that the musician, whose real name was Maxwell Fraser, died “peacefully in his sleep” in his south-London home on Friday night.

In a brief tribute on Twitter, Bliss writes: “Sending love to all of you who shared our musical journey. Look after each other y’hear.”

A joint statement from Bliss, Rollo and the E-Type Boys, Jazz's R&B-leaning outfit, reads: “We are heartbroken to say Maxi Jazz died peacefully at his home in South London last night. He was a man who changed our lives in so many ways. He gave proper meaning and message to our music.

“He was also a lovely human being with time for everyone and a wisdom that was both profound and accessible. It was an honour and, of course , a true pleasure to work with him.

“He was a brilliant lyricist, a DJ, a Buddhist, a magnificent stage presence, car lover, endless talker, beautiful person, moral compass and genius.”

Formed in 1995, Faithless achieved considerable commercial success, with Insomnia and Salva Mea, two tracks from their 1996 debut album, Reverence, each selling more than a million copies.

The group's second studio record, Sunday 8PM – which arrived two years later in 1998 – spawned one of their biggest-ever hits, God is a DJ, and solidified their position as one of dance music's most electric acts.

While guitar wasn't generally a focal point in Faithless's music, Jazz was a keen player, performing on a variety of electric guitars with The E-Type Boys, who formed in 2015. The frontman amassed a considerable collection of instruments throughout his career, which he kept across his two houses in London and Jamaica.

Guitar.com learned in 2016 that his collection included a 1954 Gretsch Country Club, Gretsch Brian Setzer Hot Rod, a Telecaster bought from The Stone Roses' John Squire, a Galloup S-type, several Strats, four Les Pauls, four ES-335s and a pair of Firebirds, to name a few.

“I started playing the guitar around about age 14,” Jazz said. “My mum bought my brother a guitar. Only God knows why. He messed about on it for all of three weeks and then it sat in the corner. About two years later, when it had about four inches of dust on it, I thought, ‘Right, I’m liberating that.’ By then, it only had three strings on it, but I taught myself to play Greensleeves on one string.

“Eventually, my mum bought me an electric guitar for Christmas when I was 17, which was great. It was an imitation Strat, I don’t remember what make it was, and the next one was an Ibanez LP-type. Cherry Sunburst. It was a very nice guitar, but I had quite a difficult relationship at the time, and both those guitars got broke – not by me…”

Jazz added that the guitar-buying bug really took hold when he began touring regularly with Faithless.

“That’s when it all really started, particularly on tour, because you get dumped in the middle of a city for a day or two, and you generally have two or three hours to kill before a soundcheck,” he said. 

“Me and the guys would have a wander around – God forbid we’d pass a guitar shop, because I’ve got to go in and have a look, and before you know it there’s a guitar in a case and it’s coming out of the shop with me – liberated forever.”

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at GuitarWorld.com from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.