Gerry Conway, Farewell

Gerry Conway, the beating heart of folk rock, passed away on March 29th; the giant of gentle percussion touch was only 76. It’s impossible to overestimate his part in creating the musical alloy of traditional idioms and pop trends, as Gerry will forever remain the only drummer to have played, either as ensemble member or guest, on albums by STEELEYE SPAN, FOTHERINGAY, THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, MAGNA CARTA, PENTANGLE, FAIRPORT CONVENTION and JETHRO TULL as well as Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, Iain Matthews, the McGarrigle sisters and Cat Stevens. Also worth mentioning is Conway’s work with Alexis Korner and Jim Capaldi – the latter, himself a master of rhythm, knew a worthy professional when he saw one.

Gerry’s ascension started with ECLECTION’s with self-titled platter, and it didn’t take long for him to become an in-demand performer who left an indelible mark on such classic records as Al Stewart’s “Zero She Flies” and Joan Armatrading’s "Whatever's For Us" plus "Woman" by Michael McGear who, being a Beatle‘s brother, could pick any skin-hitter there was – and picked the best: Conway. Without him songs on Linda Lewis’ “Not A Little Girl Anymore” and Murray Head’s “Shade” wouldn’t have sounded the same – and neither would Ian Anderson‘s “The Secret Language Of Birds”; add to this his contributions to the oeuvre of such different artists as Chris de Burgh and Johns Cale and Hiatt, and the veteran’s stylistic all-roundedness becomes apparent. What, perhaps, doesn’t is the taste and tact with which Gerry Conway’s applied his every beat – because his drumming always came across as a work of love.

Just as warm he was as a person, and that’s why it’s so sad to see him gone. There was, is and will be no other musician of such a stature. Sending condolences to his wife Jacqui McShee, one should find consolation in Gerry’s legacy retaining its significance even after his passing.

March 30, 2024

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