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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 13:05 GMT 14:05 UK
Wyatt win 'would disgrace' prize
Robert Wyatt
Wyatt said he was shortlisted "to keep the contest broad"
Mercury Music Prize nominee Robert Wyatt has said it will be "a disgrace" if he wins the prestigious award.

The ex-Soft Machine drummer is a 12-1 outsider for the prize, as his album Cuckooland competes with favourites The Streets and Franz Ferdinand.

"I think it would be a disgrace if anything came of it," the 59-year-old told The Daily Telegraph.

"I'm just in it to keep the contest broad." Mercury judges called his album "gloriously idiosyncratic".

'More deserving'

Wyatt made his name with 1960s pioneers Soft Machine before going solo as a songwriter, vocalist and drummer at the start of the 1970s.

He has played with a wide range of respected musicians including Jimi Hendrix and Paul Weller.

Wyatt was a surprise nomination for the 20,000 Mercury Music Prize with Cuckooland, his first album release for six years.

Soft Machine
Wyatt (front) previously played with 1960s pioneers Soft Machine
"Others who have been shortlisted - Amy Winehouse, Basement Jaxx, Belle and Sebastian - are far more deserving," he said.

Wyatt has used a wheelchair for the past 30 years after breaking his back when falling from a fourth-floor window.

"People say this must have been a tragedy, but it moved me into an excellent period of my life," he said.

"I married my wife and started to make my own music. It would have been more tragic being in a 1950s rock band."

This year's Mercury Music Prize will be awarded on 7 September.

Previous winners include Primal Scream, PJ Harvey, Roni Size, Gomez and last year's victor Dizzee Rascal.


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