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It’s an absolute fact that Bryan was my mum’s favourite member of Liverpool Scene.   She always referred to him as ‘your fabulous drummer.’   That says a lot.”

Significant Moments...

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Andy's Tribute to SAM SPOONS (Martin Ash)



In his latter years Sam always looked far older than he was, so it is even more shocking that he has left us so soon.   He passed away on 27th September, after a courageous and ultimately unsuccessful battle with cancer.   Not that you would have known.   Right up to the last, Sam was his exuberant and very funny self.   Hank Wangford and I hosted him as guest artist only 2 months before he died, and he played his last show, billed as such, with the Bonzo Bills on 7th September.

To say that he played spoons is to say that Harpo didn’t talk much.   Sam in full flight was a balletic marvel; every part of him was in motion, with huge flourishes and deft comic touches throughout.   His contributions to any show were immense, and he was irresistible to audiences.   The ventriloquist’s dummy in Little Sir Echo, the Australian Cultural Attaché, his upside down self-portraits were all joyous pieces of theatre.

Sam was a visual artist, a passionate gardener, and much else besides.   The beautiful thatched house he and Judy created (sculpted wouldn’t be an inappropriate description) is a wonder, and their garden takes your breath away with its concepts – deliberate vistas, hidden nooks, gushing waters, bridges, sitting places, exquisitely trained plants, and everywhere sculptures, both delicate and monumental.   He poured his energy into his home, and opened it for charity every summer.   Indeed, he collected tirelessly on the gigs we played, to benefit a local hospice, which makes it even crueller that we have lost him in this way.

He was a delightful friend, generous and caring, with a boundless enthusiasm for things which caught his attention.   Those of us who played with him knew his limitations, but they made his appearances even funnier.   As a player of rhythmic instruments, his cavalier time-keeping was a marvel to witness.   There were songs that he pretended he hadn’t learned the arrangement for, even after 50 years.   Was it simulation?   I will never know.   His spoons solos started in time, and reached breakneck speed by the end of the first chorus.   But they never failed to bring the house down, such was their effect.

Rodney Slater wrote this, the morning after we heard he had left us on the preceding evening.   I cannot think of a more heartfelt tribute.   “…there is so much to celebrate about Sam’s enthusiastic perspective to life and unique approach to music, affectionately but not always effectively balancing on the tightrope between the incredulous and total bloody disaster.    …I shall miss him horribly.”   Amen to that, Rod, and sleep well Sam, my dear friend.


(October 2018)