Fred Dibnah, the song and the man.
November 6 2004 - I have just heard the sad news that Fred died today in Bolton
Sincere condolences to his wife Sheila and his sons Jack & Roger, who I know, and to all other members of his family.
FRED's Funeral November 16 2004
poem by Rabindranath Tagore. Read at Fred's funeral by his daughter Lorna
It was a fitting final journey for a unique man, a journey Fred planned himself. There were some memorable spoken tributes in the church and the whistles from all the steam engines present blew for a full minute as Fred was lowered to his final resting place. A number of Fred's friends from the steam engine community commented that it seemed appropriate that "a tube blew on the roller on Fred's final journey". Thanks Fred, thank you so much for the wonderful memories.
A photo I took just for this site of me & Fred.
An excellent fun site with information about Fred is www.wiganworld.co.uk/fred/
There is a Fred Dibnah fan club site at http://www.geocities.com/fred_dibnah_fan_club/home.html
I knew Fred Dibnah for about twenty five years, met him when my wife and Fred's wife Sue worked together. It was in the early 1980s that he first invited me to busk near his steam roller at one of the many steam fairs that he has attended over the years. Following that first successful visit, I went along to several more fairs with him, busking with guitar and banjo and generally having a great time.
One of the best times though was after dropping a chimney. I had been to parties before at Fred's following the event of a chimney coming down but this particular day, a Sunday, it was brilliant sunshine and "Me & Our Kid" (my brother Joe and I) sang Everly Brothers, Beatles and lots of other Sixties songs for about three hours.
Several years ago I wrote a song for Fred and recorded it with guitars and mandolin for him. When we (Hanky Park) decided to put another album out, I resurrected the song and put a Brass Band on it, well not really a brass band, just me playing keyboards trying to sound like a brass band. I was dead chuffed to hear that Fred loved it. I have now recorded the song with Milnrow Brass Band and that is the version that is on the CD mentioned above with three other songs about Fred - all profits to the Fred Dibnah Memorial Fund.
A big thank you to Fred Fielder who has played this track several times on his radio show (Fred Fielder & Friends GMR - broadcast on 95.1 FM and 104.6 FM - Sunday 11 am to 1 pm). When Fred interviewed me on his show I had a rush of requests for the CD - thanks to all concerned.
The older version of the song can be heard by clicking on the Fred Dibnah title on the "Latest Album" page.
A number of people have asked me for the lyrics of the song so here they are:
Ohh Ohh Fred Dibnah
(Written by Pete Martin & Published by Kid Menthal Music)Chorus 'ave you seen 'im? 'ave you 'eard 'im? Chuggin' down the road, ridin' on 'is old steamroller. 'e's a famous steeplejack And the old smokestacks Make his face go black. 'e's a feller from Bolton Ohh Ohh Fred Dibnah. 'e's not done bad for a local lad Fred Dibnah. Gainin' fame in doin' what 'e likes to do. When 'e climbs 'is ladders of red. With 'is flat cap sittin' on 'is 'ead. 'e becomes content just gazin' at the view. CHORUS 'is dream at first was to try to nurse these chimneys. To remind us all of the grand ol' cotton mill. There's a tear in 'is eye once more As 'e drops another to the floor You can see by 'is face 'e'd prefer 'em standin' still. CHORUS Another great love is ridin' above town traffic. A powerful force on 'is big steam 'orse 'e rolls. 'e's restored every bit of it 'imself Cos you can't get the parts of the shelf And 'e chugs along while stokin' up 'is coals CHORUS With all this power just four miles an hour is the limit. (So) passin' through the country's not a lot of fun for Fred. Cos it takes an hour or two To pass each panoramic view Towns and cities are much more fun instead. CHORUS Folk used to call "'ave you ever 'ad a fall from a chimney?" Fred gave a sigh then a standard reply began. "If you ever 'ad a fall from one o' these You'd be pushin' up the daisies and the trees Cos it's one day out with the undertaker man."
When Fred Dibnah and I were interviewed together by Fred Fielder on GMR (radio programme), Fred Fielder commented that the song is full of what he called "Dibnah-isms". Clearly I picked these up during many conversations with Fred over the years.