was born to Victor and Alice Craddock in Wreckenton, Gateshead
on April 18th 1950. He spent his early days after leaving school
in 1965 working at Maxi Share's music shop in Newcastle city centre,
informal meeting-place for the many young musicians. The
other hangout was the famous Club-a-Gogo in Percy Street, which
played host to the finest touring bands of the day. As Kenny himself
said, 'you would go along to the 'Young Set' which had no age
restrictions, and later, if you knew the guy on the door, you
could sneak into the 'Jazz Lounge', the late section for over-18s.
I can remember seeing Graham Bond there, his big old Hammond organ
set up on the stage, and I would get in early because I wanted
to watch everything he did, every note he played.'
was on the suddenly popular Hammond organ that Kenny first came
to musical prominence, having initially played guitar with his
elder brother Brian's band when still a schoolboy. His skill on
this unwieldy instrument made it increasingly obvious that he
was an outstanding musician.
working with local bands The Elcorts, and New Religion, he decamped in 1968 to London with Alan Price protegés Happy Magazine, which featured
Yes drummer Alan White, 'Kenny
was one of the finest most talented musicians I have ever worked
with', and Peter Kirtley who became a life long friend and collaborator
on many projects. In 1969 they released two Price-produced singles,
Satisfied Street and Who Belongs to You
on the Polydor label.
the end of '69, Kenny and Peter Kirtley recruited Alan White on
drums and myself on bass to form Griffin with the addition of
Graham Bell on vocals By the time the band broke up due
to contractual complications, Kenny and I had established not
only a strong and lasting friendship, but a solid songwriting
partnership. In 1970 Kenny replaced Steve Winwood in Ginger Baker's
post-Cream band, Airforce. When bassist Rick Gretsch also quit the band, Kenny used his influence to enlist
me. As he himself put it, 'It meant I got to play alongside
my early hero, Graham Bond, with, ironically, me playing Hammond
organ while Graham played alto saxophone. Graham Bond was just
this huge reservoir of musical experience. Ginger was equally
encouraging, and despite his (often exaggerated) reputation, a
very loveable guy. If you were in a spot he would do anything
to help you out.'
Doran, George Harrison's right
hand man, became a good friend who would often throw sessions
or gigs our way. Through Terry, Kenny was invited to play piano
on Ringo Starr's April
1971 hit It Don't Come Easy.
Sessions on a George Harrison
album of Indian Music followed, which led to him being asked to
play on All Things Must Pass,
Harrison's multi-million selling triple album. Unfortunately a
bad case of sunstroke led to Kenny having to cancel the sessions,
'It was probably the worst bit of timing in my entire life.' Although
his friends disagree.
1971 Kenny met and married Sue, with whom he had a son, Jamie
in 1973.During this period he lived in the Suffolk village of
Leiston. with Simpson's Pure Oxygen,
a seven piece band formed with old friends Alan White, Peter Kirtley
and myself, and the horn section of the now defunct Airforce.
a three month tour of the USA in 1972, Kenny played with Charles
Mingus' drummer Danny
Richmond, another source of invaluable
experience. On his return Kenny settled with his family in what
had now become the much loved surroundings of Suffolk with forays
into London for sessions. During this period he became a close
friend of Lindisfarne's Alan Hull,
and played on Pipedream, Alan's first solo album after the
Lindisfarne break up. A long and fruitful relationship with Hull
culminated in Kenny's production of the Lindisfarne album Elvis
Lives on the Moon and Hull's solo album, Back to Basics
, which featured songs co-written by Kenny.
consummate musicianship and unerring instinct, coupled with an
astonishing Hammond Organ technique that few in the world could
lay claim to, ensured that Kenny was a welcome addition to any
session, in any style. His encouragement of younger musicians
is summed up by Zeb Jameson, keyboard player with Robbie Williams. Oasis,
and The Pretenders, 'If it wasn't
for Kenny I would not be doing what I am doing now'
worked with so many musicians during his long career, notably
Gerry Rafferty (1980-84). Van Morrison (for
whom he was musical director 1984-85), Mary Black , Paul Brady, Billy Bragg (Talking The Taxman
About Poetry), Liane Carroll, Liam Genocky, Christie Hennessey, Artie
McGlynn, John Pearson, John Wesley Harding and the bands The Zodiacs, The Liars, and Pass the
contributed to Paul Brady's 1985 album Back to the Centre. In Paul's words, '...notably as the piano player on the
recording of The Island. His sensitivity and understanding of
the emotional and musical space the song needed to inhabit was
crucial to the recording's success. A truly inspired and inspiring
performance. I will always treasure the memory of that studio
experience. Kenny last played with me in the
late '90s on the BBC TV show Later with Jools Holland.
He will be remembered by all those whose path he crossed for his
hugely ascerbic wit and supreme musical talent.'
1993 Van Morrison recorded the album 'Too Long in Exile' which
includes 'Before The World Was Made' a poem written by W.B. Yeats
which Kenny had set too music.
1984 onwards Kenny and myself composed and recorded TV and Film
soundtracks, many of them for Fawlty Towers/Absolutely Fabulous
director Bob Spiers, 'whenever
I got a project, my first call would be to 'the boys', who
could always be relied upon to come up with the goods, and who's
sense of humour perfectly complemented my own. Kenny's musical
talent was awesome.'
and Sue divorced in 1988 and his happy relationship with partner
Julia lasted until his tragic death on May 30th as the result
of a car accident in Portugal, where he and Julia had embarked
on a new life together. He was utterly dedicated to music and
had recently completed his first solo album Mad as the Mist and
writes ' Last year, Kenny and I decided to make a break for it
and found ourselves living on the side of Foia, the highest peak
in the Monchique mountain range in the interior of the Algarve.
We had such a great time and Kenny had already met many musicians
from all over the world there. Particularly, Jose-Antonio who
is a carpenter and a drummer. Jose-Antonio had already offered
to set his drum kit up in Kenny's new studio.. in the last 3 months,
Kenny and I were involved in the restoration of a house out there.
Needless to say, it was a massive project and while I drove manically
round the Algarve trying to find materials, Kenny was labouring
hard, something he both enjoyed and found quite a surprise.'
the tributes from his many, many friends are far too numerous
to mention, they have been paid nonetheless. For my part I have
lost a truly great friend, soulmate, confidente and collaborator,
and I shall miss him more than I can adequately describe. During
the thirty four years I played and worked with him, I can say
without exaggeration that I never heard him play a single inappropriate
note, except of course when his wicked and wonderful sense of
humour took over. He made me laugh like a drain. Rest in Peace.
Craddock, musician, composer, producer.
18th April 1950 - 30th May 2002
solo album 'Mad as the Mist and Snow' is available by
order your CD, send a cheque or postal order (made payable
to J. Craddock) for £15.00
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