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Andy pays tribute to another lost friend. Ed Kelleher, screenwriter, playwright and film critic passed away recently. A huge fan of the Liverpool Scene, Ed used to hitch rides from the USA on American airforce planes to come to weekend gigs!

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We documented Andy's affection for Glen Sherley's music on this website some years ago.

BBC Radio4 ran a programme recently highlighting Johnny Cash's work within the prison system in the States and in particular his work to try to get Sherley released. You can hear this programme on the BBC's iPlayer. HERE.


Andy Roberts tribute to Glen Sherley

The Liverpool Scene had a great friend in America called Ed Kelleher. He's still around, though sadly he is now quite ill.

I think it was Mike Evans, our sax player, who first met Ed, when he was playing american army bases in Germany in the 60s, with the Clayton Squares. Ed was a US Army draftee. He loved music, was a writer, and, whenever he could, he'd hitch a ride to the USAF base at Burtonwood, and come to stay with us in Liverpool.

I remember seeing Ed walking up Canning Street in his uniform (which he had to wear in order to get his flight) surrounded by barracking scally kids, and 10 minutes later he'd be on his way to Ye Cracke or the Phil in jeans and a t-shirt.

Ed wrote a great jazz poem called Anita, which Mike Evans and Percy Jones arranged for the band, and which was always in our earliest sets.

When he got out of the army, Ed started to work for the US music trade papers, and when I toured the States with Iain Matthews and Richard Thompson in 1971, he was a writer for Cashbox magazine in New York. In the Cashbox office was a cupboard, which was filled with vinyl albums. These were the ones that the staff didn't want to keep for themselves. Ed let me have any I wanted, and he arranged to ship them back to the UK for me.

There was one particular one which I took because it had a great cover. It was a live concert album by an American country artist called Glen Sherley.

Glen Sherley was a good songwriter, and he had sent his song Greystone Chapel to Johnny Cash, who recorded it on his Folsom Prison concert. At this time Glen was himself a prisoner in Folsom. He had, as he states on his album, "10½ years of this lockdown business".

Anyway, when I got it back home and listened to it, I thought the Glen Sherley album was extraordinary.

Johnny Cash had fixed a band of top Nashville players, and taken them into the prison at Vacaville in California, to record Glen, a prisoner himself, playing to an audience of 800 prisoners, singing songs that he's written about prison! Electric stuff.

Plainsong used to do a song called the F.B.I.'s Top Ten in 1972, which I learnt from this album.

I lent the record to Viv Stanshall, who adored it. We'd sit and listen to it for hours. Get stoned and sing "Mama Had Country Soul" over and over.

I never forgot the Glen Sherley album.

A couple of years later, I saw that Glen Sherley was part of a Johnny Cash Show which was coming to the Albert Hall (with Kris Kristofferson and Rita gsCoolidge as support). Viv and I bought very expensive box seats, determined to howl our love for the Great Glen. He never showed, and later we were told that they wouldn't let him out of the US because of his parole status.

Then Glen faded. He made a couple of awful sappy country singles, with strings and shit.

Then nothing. Less than 2 years later Glen Sherley blew his own brains out, and Viv and I were devastated when we read about it.

Later on, when I was in the Hank Wangford Band, I lent my copy of Glen's live album, and a bunch else besides, to a Birmingham country DJ called Brian Savin, who never returned them - bastard!

About a week ago I found that a couple called Sal and Roger (Broken Wheel Records of Needham Market) had a copy for sale (a British release which I never knew existed) for £5! I bought it.

To hear it again in all its rough glory, particularly with the attendant memories of Viv, and poor Ed, who now has premature Alzheimer's, has made today a particularly poignant and wonderful day. Such a waste of talent - Glen Sherley was a genius.

Andy Roberts

Glen Sherley is featured in the lyrics to Andy's song "Songs of the Stars"