An unsung hero and a mainstay of British rock scene, the great Ray Fenwick passed away on April 30th at the age of 75. Ray might be primarily known as a member of IAN GILLAN BAND where Fenwick found a perfect fusion foil in John Gustafson, having played with him on Roger Glover’s “The Butterfly Ball And The Grasshopper’s Feast” both in the studio and on-stage in the mid-’70s, but the guitarist’s career had began a decade earlier. It all started with a few little known collectives – save for THE SYNDICATS, where Ray served between Steve Howe and Peter Banks – before he came to prominence first in the Netherlands, in the ranks of immensely popular TEE SET and AFTER TEA, and then on his home turf, in THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP. From there, the road to fame was beckoning.
Fenwick ventured down this path and joined his friend Mo Foster to form FANCY and notch a couple of hits, including “Touch Me” that was out in 1974, as well as tour alongside the likes of KISS, until the DEEP PURPLE link brought him in with that band’s singer and kept Ray busy for three LPs, 1977’s “Clear Air Turbulence” being a masterpiece, and a concert album. The ’80s saw him settling in the role of a session musician and often accompanying his old colleague Eddie Hardin and Samantha Fox, before FORCEFIELD came about when the veteran conspired with Cozy Powell to have various artists record with them, with Fenwick marrying his six-string spells to producer skills, and of course, such luminaries as Graham Bonnet, Neil Murray and Jan Akkerman could decline Ray’s invitation.
Later, there were more records with other players and occasional public appearance – an outing with Steve Howe’s REMEDY – and also teaching, which is what Fenwick did until his untimely passing. Ray’s music lives on, though.