Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It is with great sadness that I report the sudden and tragic death on Saturday August 25th of George Gallacher, lead vocalist of The Poets. The Glasgow mid-60s beat group are best remembered for their October 1964 Decca debut single 'Now We're Thru' and the February '65 proto-freakbeat mover 'That's The Way It's Got To Be' after being signed up by Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones' manager.

George, who would have been 69 years old on 21st Sept, died from cardiac failure whilst driving home from Firhill Park after watching his beloved Partick Thistle FC beat Dumbarton 3 - 0. He would've been a very happy man that day. Gallacher, alongside guitarist (and brother-in-law) Fraser Watson - part of The Poets '65 - '67 era, and also a member of '69 Apple label artists (White) Trash - had recently begun using The Poets name for a series of concerts and a BBC Radio Scotland "Vic Galloway show" live session in late 2011.

The resurrected Poets were George and Fraser, backed by the long-time friends and fans of the group - Edinburgh's beat-garage merchants, The Thanes. As anyone who's heard George in action will testify, he had a totally unique vocal presence and despite having only one serviceable lung was thoroughly compelling and unique.

Since undergoing major heart surgery some years ago, George was on daily medication and often voiced his fears over his mortality. He is survived by his dear wife Anne, and sons Craig and Fraser.

Personally I feel very privileged to have been good friends with him these past 25 years and more recently to have played alongside him and Fraser, helping to keep the name of The Poets alive. I'm eternally thankful that we got to play truly memorable gigs in Glasgow, London and most recently at Festival Beat in Italy.

I Am So Blue

Lenny Helsing (The Thanes /The Poets)

Service is this Saturday, September 1st at 10am, Lynn Crematorium, Castlemilk for anyone wishing to pay their respects

Thanks for doing this Lenny...

I actually typed this last night and thought I’d posted it. Or dreamt I posted it.

Spent much of Sunday in a fog brought upon by the news of George Gallacher’s passing, the one saving grace that he seems to have left the theatre without suffering after what would have been a happy result for his team. George, in my experience was a fit-looking, dapper man who hadn’t visibly changed in years. A real gent that was always generous with his time. The fact that he and Fraser got to do some shows as The Poets in recent times is heartening too thanks to the relentless efforts of Lenny Helsing to make it happen. Introducing the music to new generations and making those that were already familiar with it relive a portion of their youth.

An abiding memory was a version of The Poets playing at my friend Simon’s birthday party at Sloans in Glasgow when Laura Cantrell and her crew were here. I guess it was during Celtic Connections? I remember the joy on Mr Tepper’s face witnessing one of the few things that wouldn’t happen in NY.

Never saw any of the recent shows. Thinking there would be plenty of time I suppose. Last time I saw him was a few months ago when he wrote up a jukebox tab for KP. Another wheeze I hoped to see through was for those two to meet the next time Matt & Kim were in town. Ain’t gonna happen.

Stopped in at the smallish but perfectly formed wee Scottish Cinema exhibit at NLS on George IV Bridge in Edinburgh. Well worth a schlep, even if it’s just to see the original poster for “The Battle of the Sexes” that’s part of it. I’d really like one of those and might even clear wall space for it. Finally saw “Searching for Sugar Man” too and it is pretty good but like Anvil, and in the wake of the giant spoof that life has become, some of the set up didn’t seem entirely plausible. The producer of the second Rodriguez album really got on my tits with a "total sincerity” schtick that really was hard to swallow to the point that I thought Chris Guest would appear any minute.

It’s only when Sixto Rodriguez and his family enter the scene that things begin to take on a more positive spin. His is a story that could never happen now. That type of mythical status is impossible and he’s sort of Jandek-like, not musically but in the way he was isolated from his audience.

Anyway, it is fairly uplifting in the end and he seems like a good soul. Nowadays as soon as someone coughs there’s camera footage so the romantic possibilities that there could be artists like this now are zero. This was a guy that slipped through the net. There are loads more both obscure and not so much that should be celebrated and perhaps introduced to a prospective new audience that might be able to provide that elusive tickle.

From there I attended a book festival event that was strangely not sold out. I’m not at liberty to say what it was because the reason for going was to score something that will be a gift for someone that may read this. If you really want to know what it was, and I’m sure most of you don’t care, then leave a comment on the post and I’ll get back to you.