The Flowers of Manchester
This is how Salfordonline reported the very
sudden death of my dear brother Joe, also my close harmony singing partner of
more than 40 years.
Obituary: Joe Martin
By: Tony Flynn
At SalfordOnline we were deeply saddened to
hear of the death of Joe Martin, the City of Salford Conservation officer.
I knew Joe personally for many years and always found him to be friendly,
helpful and a veritable mine of information about Salford and its listed
buildings and monuments.
Recently I was speaking to Joe about an article that I was doing about the blue
plaques that are dotted around Eccles town centre, I contacted him for some
further information about Salford plaques.
Without delay he sent to me a full list of the plaques in Salford also
additional information that he had which he sent me by post, typical of Joe,
nothing was too much bother for him.
His passion for Salford and his knowledge of the City was second to none, he
will be sorely missed by me and countless others for the excellent work that he
did in preserving our Salford heritage.
Joe was instrumental in our Salford Totem Pole campaign, together with Cllr
Steve Coen he helped us on each step of the journey to get the totem pole
restored to its rightful place in Salford, for which we will be eternally
grateful and it will be a fitting tribute to Joe when it will be eventually
Joe was also an accomplished musician who was a familiar figure around the folk
clubs of Salford and Manchester, playing his trusty Martin guitar. He formed a
duo with his brother Pete calling themselves "Me and Our Kid", playing Beatles,
Everly Brothers covers and much more to appreciative audiences.
John Carberry, The Principal Public Relations Officer for Salford, left these
comments about Joe.
"Joe worked for the council for nearly 40 years and was our longest serving
member of staff. His passion for preserving all that is good in our built
environment was not just widely known and greatly appreciated by everyone
interested in conservation, it was legendary throughout Salford.
"Although we are comforted in small part by the knowledge that the results of
his work will be enjoyed by future generations, our thoughts and deepest
sympathies are with his family at this time.
"Joe Martin helped to make Salford the great city that we know today and he will
never be forgotten. In the next financial year the council will be launching the
Salford Good Design Awards and those promoting excellence in conservation will
be able to submit entries for the Joe Martin Conservation Award."
Tributes to a guitar legend
MARCH 18, 2010
Guitarist Kevin Neill, who played on sixties hits by the Karl Denver
Trio, has died at his Blackley home.
The 78-year-old, who was suffering from motor neurone disease, made his
final appearance on stage – as a member of The Bachelors – last August.
Born in Miles Platting and a pupil at St Gregory’s School in Ardwick,
Kevin, pictured below, earned 10 shillings (50p) for his first gig,
playing guitar with the east Manchester-based Reg Goodwin Orchestra in
He accompanied the big stars of the 1950s, including Johnny Ray, Frankie
Laine, Max Bygraves and Anthony Newley, and also played with the Joe
Loss Orchestra and BBC Northern Dance Orchestra.
He then met Scottish singer Karl Denver, who was poised to hit the big
time in 1961, along with bassist Gerry Cottrell.
They had regularly packed the Yew Tree pub in Wythenshawe and when Kevin
joined them they were signed to the Decca record label by leading
producer Jack Good.
They had a dozen 1960s chart appearances including their most famous
song Wimoweh, plus Marcheta, Mexicali Rose, Still and Never Goodbye.
Kevin knew many pop artists of the day including The Beatles, whose
first radio appearance was on the trio’s Side By Side show on the BBC.
In 1979, he quit the group and, for more than a decade, he was involved
in helping to produce the TV game show Catchphrase.
The programme’s host, Roy Walker, said: "As a friend and colleague, he
was supportive, wise and thoughtful. His death is a huge loss."
In the 1990s, Kevin joined a breakaway version of The Bachelors and
toured internationally before retiring last summer because of ill
He leaves wife, Claire, and daughters, Beverley and Lorraine.
His son-in-law Mark Ruthven, 51, said: "Kevin was a proud man and a
great family man.
"Kevin was a smashing bloke and everyone loved him. He will be greatly
missed. He was a king and a genuine person who would help anyone."
I was born in 47, Broughton Road, Salford in
1948, at which time Salford was still in Lancashire; now it is in the County of
Greater Manchester. I had seven brothers
and four sisters and my early memories are of a very musical household. My
mam and dad both played piano, my dad also played mouth organ - in fact I don't
think I have ever heard anybody play mouth organ the way my dad did. He
seemed to be able to play a tune and accompaniment at the same time.
Everybody in the family played at least one instrument, to varying degrees, and
many of us played two or more. All of my sisters and some of my brothers
learned to read music but I have had to rely on a "good ear".
I started to play one finger symphonies on
the piano at a very early age and then when I was thirteen, I visited Gerard, my
brother who lived in Sale, and he gave me his guitar because I managed to get a
tune out of it on my visit. This was the start of a love affair that is as
strong as ever.
As with many teenagers at that time, I joined
a "beat group", called "The Ugly Ducklings". We didn't
have much success at all but we loved it. I went solo after a few years
(pubs & clubs) then became part of a duo with my brother Joe, we were known
as "Me & Our Kid".
"Me & Our Kid" appearing at a recent charity "do".
This lasted about fifteen years before
Joe found other things to do and I was solo again. Then in 1988, Tony
Downes (late of "The Two Beggarmen"), invited me to join him as his
Lynott, had had to give up.
Music has taken me to some interesting
jobs. I have played piano for a ladies' keep fit class (before aerobics
and CD). I have played the organ at several weddings including one in
Vancouver, where I also played guitar and sang. I played mandolin, a
couple of times,
for the Oldham Tinkers early
heroes of mine, when
their usual instrumentalist was unavailable. An interesting event for me
was when I gave a Sitar recital in Ramsbottom several years ago. I was
passing a newsagents in Bolton when I noticed a sitar up for sale. I
bought it and "messed about" with it for a while. I was working with an
Indian lady at the time and she heard about my sitar. Some months later
she asked me if I would give a recital for a gathering her father had arranged
as their usual sitarist was unavailable - quite a thrill for me!
Another thrill for me was at Fred
Fielder's barbecue one year. There were all sorts of people
there, incidentally, you should hear Maxine Barrie singing Rock and Roll with
guitar backing, she's superb and she loves it. The high spot for me was
when Kevin Neill (Karl Denver's lead guitarist) and Gerry Cottrell (Karl
Denver's bass guitarist) played immaculately whilst I did my impression of Karl
Denver - I loved it.
I have such clear memories of watching them
both on stage behind Karl Denver in the pantomime at The Palace, Christmas
1962. I haven't got a clue what the pantomime was, all I remember is
watching the Karl Denver Trio. I was on the front row of the circle and,
amongst other songs they sang, I remember "The green grass grew all around
all around". Kevin refuses to sing it now when I ask him, he says
they only learned it for the kids at the pantomime!
I went to New York with Joe, my
brother. We had a superb time and we met Les
Paul , the first guitarist I ever heard of when my brother, Tom, played a
78 of his. The tune was Nola and I reminded Les Paul of the single when we
met - he seemed to have forgotten all about it. We met Les Paul at The Iridium Club where he still performs every Monday Night; he's
years old. He is the guy who invented the solid body electric
guitar. He made a prototype, called The Log which I saw in a guitar museum
in Nashville, and he went to Gibson guitars with it. At first they showed
no interest and a guy called Leo Fender invited Les Paul to join forces with him
as he was planning to make an electric guitar. After Leo Fender produced a
guitar, a Fender Broadcaster, Gibson very quickly hunted out Les Paul and agreed
to produce the first "Gibson Les Paul".
Two Martins (Joe & Pete) and two Les
Pauls (the Instrument and the Legend).
We also visited Philadelphia where we went
for a trip round the Martin Guitar Factory.
This was the main purpose (excuse) for our trip to the USA I came home
with a Martin 00-15 all mahogany guitar - it's a beauty. The chairman of
the company, CF Martin IV came down to chat to us.
Pete Martin outside the Martin Guitar
Factory, Nazareth, P.A.
A few years later, me and my son Rob
lean on the same sign.
Pete, Chris (owner of the company), and
When we visited the factory this time, we
asked if Chris Martin was available to sign my Martin Backpacker Guitar.
He came down, signed the guitar and spent a fair bit of time chatting to us, a
really friendly guy.
Some people have asked me what instrument I
use with Hanky Park. I use a Martin D35 which is coming up to 24 years old
now. I have played hundreds of guitars in my time but I have never played
another guitar that I would swap for my D35. I also play a Gibson Mandolin
A series which is quite an old instrument and appears to have been made around
1912. Tony plays a Martin D18 - about 29
I met another of my early heroes because of
"The Flowers of Manchester" (see the "Flowers" page on this
site). The week after my momentous night on the pitch at Old Trafford, I
was at the home game and the guest making the cash dash draw at half time was
Graham Nash, once of The Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash (&
Young). Graham also grew up in Salford (born in Blackpool when his mother
was evacuated there during the war). After meeting him at Old Trafford,
thanks to the friendly crew there who had escorted me on to the pitch at half
time, I met him a couple of nights later when he was signing copies of his new
book on photography. Being a big fan of harmony (Everly Brothers,
Me & Our Kid)
The Hollies were also very much amongst my favourites -
especially as two of them came from Salford. Rob, my son, took this photo
of Graham Nash and me at the book signing.