During August 2014, my lovely niece, Sophia Palombo, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Just 45 years old, she was the youngest of my late sister’s four daughters, a great girl who lived life to the full, always managing to laugh in the face of the dreadful illness that finally took her life. She was a real inspiration. Since Sophie’s passing I have attended five more funerals, all veteran musicians and associates who, unlike Sophie, thankfully enjoyed a reasonable lifespan, and i would like to pay tribute to each of them:
In September 2014 we said goodbye to bassist Steve Hargreaves. A pioneer of the West London scene, he will always be remembered for his work with Frankie Reid and The Casuals, amongst others. One of the gang who would hang out in Jim Marshall’s Hanwell shop, Steve was a skilled electronics engineer who could always fix a duff amplifier, as well as being one of the nicest people in the business!
In October 2014 we lost another real nice guy when Mick Burt passed away. I had followed his drumming career from the Canons to Cliff Bennett’s Rebel Rousers, and finally to Chas n’ Dave. When Dave Peacock took time out I joined Chas and Mick in their rock n’ roll trio, where it was an honour to play beside the man who many rated as England’s finest rock n’ roll drummer.
In early 2015 we said goodbye to one of the best guitarists that this country produced. Gerald “Ged” Peck was one of the most innovative and original players, and if there was any justice then he would be a household name! I met Ged in 1966 when we both played in the Mack Sound, the 18-strong soul outfit fromted by U.S. light-heavyweight boxing contender, Freddie Mack. Together we worked with Bilie Davis, Screaming Lord Sutch, the Flowerpot Men and Marsha Hunt, before forming Warhorse. His amazing speed made him stand out from the rest, and at that time few players could have matched him. I will always treasure the memory of being asked for Ged’s name by guitarist Robert Fripp, because as he said, “He’s the best guitarist I have ever seen!”.
April 29th 2015 saw the departure of one rock’s biggest characters, drummer Roger Pinah. Born into a family of circus performers, it was not long before young Roger became a serious drummer, and a stalwart of the Hanwell scene centred around Jim Marshall’s shop. I was lucky enough to turn professional in 1964, joining up with Roger in Buddy Britten and The Regents. Buddy renamed him Roger Truth, and it was in 1966 that he and I became the rhythm section for Johnny Kidd’s Pirates. Best known by the nick name ‘Solly’, Roger became firmly established as one of the best rock drummers in the country. For reasons best known only to himself, he turned down several offers from big-name acts, preferring to spend a couple of decades fronting small jazz combos, where he proved to be no slouch as a vocalist! Everyone who met Solly will never forget him. He was, as Pete Parks often said, the Max Miller of rock n’ roll!!
Finally in May this year, 2015, we said goodbye to another simply astounding drummer, the great Mac Poole. Mac proved to be one of the bravest of them all, having been diagnosed with so-called terminal cancer about 12 years ago. Undaunted, he continued to defy the odds, and kept on playing almost until the end. In 1970, searching for a new drummer for Warhorse, I offered the job to Sweet’s Mick Turner, who, saying that he was not good enough, urged me to find a bloke called Mac Poole! Finally, Mac was tracked down and agreed to join Warhorse, having missed the boat by turning down an offer from a new group called Led Zeppelin!! I had worked with many great drummers, but Mac took it to a new level, doing things that seemed impossible! In later years, Mac became a journeyman player when he should have been a superstar, but his great reputation always went ahead of him. A lovely bloke, affectionately known as ‘Mac the Mouth’, due to his ability to ‘talk the hind leg off a donkey’ he was, without doubt, one of the greatest drummers and will be sadly missed!
Well, that’s the end of the obituaries, hopefully for a long time.