Soft Machine are an English rock band from Canterbury formed in mid-1966 by Robert Wyatt (drums, vocals, 1966–1971), Kevin Ayers (bass, guitar, vocals, 1966–1968), Daevid Allen (guitar, 1966–1967), and Mike Ratledge (organ, 1966–1976). As a central band of the Canterbury scene, the group became one of the first British psychedelic acts and later moved into progressive rock and jazz fusion. Their varying line-ups have included former members such as Hugh Hopper (bass, 1969–1973), Elton Dean (saxophone, 1969–1972), and Andy Summers (guitar, 1968), and currently consists of John Marshall (drums), Fred Thelonious Baker (bass), John Etheridge (guitar), and Theo Travis (saxophone, flutes, keyboards)
Though they achieved little commercial success, the Soft Machine are considered by critics to have been influential in rock music. Dave Lynch at AllMusic called them "one of the more influential bands of their era, and certainly one of the most influential underground ones". The group were named after the novel The Soft Machine by William S. Burroughs.