Sorry to hear of the passing of Ian "Lemmy" Kilminster, ex Rev Black and The Rocking Vicars (plus Hawkwind, Sam Gopal and of course, Motorhead). Fond memories of watching Rev Black at Bury Palais - what a group!!!!
It is with deep sorrow I have to announce another of Manchester's true legends, and my lifelong friend Stew Darby has passed away. The bravest man I ever had the pleasure of knowing, Stewart lost his battle with Cancer on Boxing Day 2015.
We were two snotty nosed urchins when we first got acquainted, and grew up on the cobbled streets of Ardwick belting footballs against the walls of terraced houses. At fifteen Stew was already an accomplished Banjolele player, and when I got my first guitar we formed the Dice Boys Skiffle group.
Later on we enjoyed some success with the Boydell's Vocal group, and in 1968 after I had left the group Stewart won Opportunity Knocks with The Graysons.
But music wasn't Stewart's only talent, and his skill behind the lens of a camera is legendary in the world of photography. Stewart served Granada Television for twenty six years as their head stills photographer, and every pop star that passed through Granada's doors in the sixties he captured on film - The Beatles, The Stones, Bowie etc., etc. No job was to small or to daunting for Stewart from beggars in the streets of India to the 80th Birthday celebration of Sir Lawrence Olivia.
Stew was a larger than life character that was loved by everyone who came in contact with him, and his Banjolele playing knew no boundaries. He has entertained long haul passengers on flights to Australia, bathers around a swimming pool in Bali, and the barmy army during an ashes test at Old Trafford.
A light went out in all our hearts on December 26th, but the memories we have will stay forever. Goodbye my friend, my hero, my brother until we meet again.
Andy was one of Manchester's finest - warm hearted and a good friend to so many, constantly gigging with quality groups, an ever present on the Manchester scene.
For me, a perfect example of a Mancunian muso. But I am biased as I have always classed him as one of my greatest friends.
So many stories - we joined Phoenix City Smash just days apart. He came to see the band on my first gig, with his lifelong friend Harry "The Fwerk" Greene. Another wonderful Mancunian.
Memories of the night Jim Reno repossessed his Vox Continental after a gig at St Bernadettes, the incredible challenge of saving up enough money to get his Hammond (including sleeping in the van mid-winter in Carlisle to save BnB costs, not as groovy as it sounds), getting the Hammond and making it roadie proof (by adding about 50 kilo of plywood and handles, starting off "Honeychile" with him after Phoenix, his incredible generosity when I was a poor student and he was with Sweet Chariot and his kindness in driving me down to Kent when I moved away from Manchester.
But more than anything, we would all remember his sense of fun. Turning up to Sweet Chariot gigs on a bloody tandem with Pete and Ronnie arriving in a Bentley and Jag (hope I got those right). He once conned me into coming down the incredibly steep hill at Alderley Edge on the back of the tandem as he swerved madly to avoid cars. I learnt to swear that day.
So many other things about Andy that I remember - his great announcing, the group mum's always loved him, holes in his socks, spending the half-a-crown postal orders the girls sent in for the fan club, getting a job as a meter reader and being really impressed at getting free bike clips - but all great fun and together created such a wonderful friend for us all.
And a great muso, of course.
My deepest condolences to Fran and the family.
See you later, Plonk.
Andy's funeral is on Tuesday of next week. Tuesday the 29th at Boarshaw Crematorium, M24 2NH.
The family would be pleased to welcome any of Andy's friends.
Keith Fairhurst, lead singer with The Chosen Few, The Hush and Fitz 'n' Startz, was involved in the Manchester scene before moving down to London with the Chosen Few. a
His latest book is a good read, immersing the reader in the story of the incredible sixties London scene through the eyes of a group of Mancunians "giving it a go".
Why not give his book a go - its available through Amazon!