Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Keef Hartley dead. Who?

Behind every publicly-acclaimed rock 'great', be it an individual or band, there are scores, if not hundreds, of others who never quite made it, despite their talents. I was reminded of this when reading of the death of the Lancashire-born drummer and band leader, Keef Hartley, last week (November 29th). Hands up, who recognises the name? He took over from Ringo in 'Rory Storm's Hurricanes' when Ringo joined the Beatles, went on to be one of John Mayall's troupe, played with 'The Artwoods' (band of Ronnie Wood's brother Art), formed his own 'Keef Harley Band' who... wait for it... played at Woodstock.

Woodstock? And you never heard of him?

And there's the rub. Keef Hartley could have, perhaps should have, been one of the drumming giants; his passing recognised by all rather than his slipping gently into that good night. Arguably Hartley missed his main chance because he's not actually in the Woodstock film. Why? Because he asked for money upfront, which was not forthcoming, so the performance was not filmed and didn't make Scorsese's edit. A legend was not born.

How many others made that one decision that robbed them of real fame and fortune? Terry Reid turning down the Led Zep vocals job? The Kinks missing out on US glory by falling out with the Teamsters Union? The Zombies who quit before what would have been their 'Time of the Season'. Can't even begin to count the number who simply shouldn't have taken that last drink, spliff or hit... bad decisions all. But the same could have happened to those that made it but for the grace of God and a little luck. If Rod Stwart had been just that bit better at football he might have signed for Brentford and his singing career been confined to the terraces in later years!

But back to Hartley. While the man may have gone, his music hasn't and it's not too late to get into it. Amazon inevitably has a range of his CDs including the great 'Battle of North West Six', 'Lancashire Hustler' and 'Dog Soldier'. RIP Keef Hartley.

1 comment:

  1. 'remember him from the John Mayal days. Didn't he include his dear john phone from grand dad john on his first LP