Bobby Tench Departed For Better World

An underestimated colossus of British rock, Bobby Tench has passed away at the age of 79. He was a unique artist: a lead singer who could effortlessly blend into the background and become a simple guitarist – if the word “simple” is a fitting one for a performer of such grand stature, yet it speaks volumes of Tench always being aware of his place in the entire sonic picture. And the list of records with Bobby on speaks volumes of his immense influence on the worldwide scale.

He was the voice of JEFF BECK GROUP on “Rough And Ready” and this band’s self-titled album, singing and playing rhythm guitar, locked into a tight-but-loose unit with Clive Chaman and Cozy Powell, before adding bass to his armory for Ginger Baker’s “Stratavarious” and laying principal licks on “Burglar” by Freddie King. All these tenures came on the strength of Tench’s leadership in GASS, an original ensemble that, in the latter half of the ’60s, married progressive rock to Latin-tinctured soul and featured Peter Green on their 1970 debut; the collective might also be seen as a precursor to HUMMINGBIRD that, reuniting Bobby with his Beck combo buddies, laid down three outstanding star-studded longplays between 1975 and 1977 and again showcased his talents as warbler and axeman. If Tench’s work rate seemed hectic enough, listeners never tired of hearing him and were glad to discern Bobby’s presence on other records.

He was on records by Linda Lewis and Junior Marvin’s HANSON – cut between the HUMMINBIRD’s opuses – and still be surprised to see him join, on stage and in the studio, STREETWALKERS where he not only accompanied Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney but also cowrote with them. And while Tench merely helped another supergroup, WIDOWMAKER, with their eponymous platter, his six-string passages on Van Morrison’s “Wavelength” are highly memorable as are his vocal and guitar lines on BOXER’s sophomore offering, "Bloodletting" – quite a feat, given it were Mike Patto and Ollie Halsall that Bobby supported there. Not for nothing he got called to share the spotlight with Steve Marriott on “On To Victory” and “Go For The Throat” which marked the end of HUMBLE PIE, co-penning the title track on the latter, and fronted this group on “Back On Track” which became their farewell in 2022.

There were many more sessions and less prominent stints, as Tench has never really stopped doing what he loved the most, always a brilliant musician and a warm human being whose touching words used to bring smile to many a face. To say Bobby will be sorely missed would mean nothing, as his passing hurts too much.

February 19, 2024

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