Following Ray’s sudden passing in April 2022 we have invited recollections from friends, acquaintances, and those whose life he touched along the journey.
If you would like to contribute please use the contact form.
Ruth Adams and family, 21 July 2022
On the morning of Saturday, the 30th of April it seemed like it was going to be a normal weekend, when suddenly Ray died from natural causes at home.
It was a traumatic and shocking experience, and we lost the love of our lives, just like that.
It was exactly one year since the release of Ray’s anthology which we had worked on tirelessly through lockdown. This was a life cut short, as Ray had been planning numerous projects, and was playing better than ever.
He was full of life and still gave total commitment to anything he was performing or recording. Just a few days before, he had been recording at a local studio, putting together a charity record for Ukraine.
Ray loved many types of music and would often sit and play his guitar whilst watching the TV, joining in with adverts etc. He was always listening to something, even when he was cooking he wore earbuds.
Ray also loved animals, walking, nature and cycling. Mostly, he liked a quiet life at home, and visiting remote spots in the UK countryside.
Ray was a great collector, not only of guitars and CD’s but also vintage toys, antiques, rock memorabilia and vinyl. He built several guitars himself with unbelievable patience, a perfectionist in everything he did.
He was devoted and loving. We are completely lost and devastated without him, and we know he will be missed by all those that knew him. The most beautiful guitar player and person, we miss his sense of humour, enthusiasm, and energy.
Ray’s funeral took place on June 6th at South Lincolnshire crematorium, just outside of Spalding where he had lived.
It was a private service and was well attended. The service focused on his family life, illustrious music career, and work as a lecturer.
Ray was always young at heart and it was obvious from the mourners present, and those who had been in touch, how much people loved him.
The day was a celebration of his life, and there were many funny stories and anecdotes. Music played at the funeral was written and recorded by Ray and included ‘Tam Tam’ and TV theme tune ‘Magpie’.
Floral arrangements were from close family only; Ruth, Laura, Chris, Michelle, Charlie and grandchildren Ella and George.
Donations were made to Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity which Ray often raised funds for. Along with family, close friends, neighbours, and past students, the funeral was attended by Mike Hurst, Clem Cattini, Colin Towns, Mick Grabham, and Garry Cobain.
There are plans for memorial/tribute events both in Spalding and Hastings (August 3rd East Hastings Angling Club – organised by Pete Prescott).
Adrian Churchward, 31 May 2023
I met Ray during the late 1950s when were 12/13 years old (introduced by mutual friends) and we hit it off straight away. I think his nickname was “fuzz” because of his hair, but my mind might be playing tricks on me. He called me Adey (for Adrian).
We used to ride our pedal bikes around Raphael’s Park in Romford, Essex. We’d meet most weekends and sometimes during the school holidays. We went to different schools. I think Ray lived in the Chase Cross/Collier Row area. I lived in Hornchurch.
There were three of us, the other lad being Ray Royer, who later became a guitarist on Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”.
We were all mad about music, though I couldn’t (and still can’t!) play any instrument. The two Rays painted the names of The Shadows: Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Tony Meehan and Jet Harris on the wheel frames of their bikes.
We’d sometimes spend Saturdays together in Wells Music Stores in South Street, Romford.
I remember going with them to at least one of Larry Parnel’s rock tours at the Romford Odeon, where we saw the latest stars like Marty Wilde, Joe Brown, Vince Eager, Billy Fury etc; all before The Beatles conquered the pop world.
Somebody once told me that your Ray backed Gene Vincent when he came to the UK in 1964, but I don’t know if it was true.
We drifted apart (as most friendships do in the growing-up process) in about 1960, and I never saw either of them again.
They are some of the happiest memories of my life, on the cusp of our teens, and I’m glad to have spent some of my time with them.
RIP my dear friend.
Adrian Churchward is a writer of political novels and a semi-retired lawyer.
Memories of Boston College
Paul Tomlinson, 5 May 2022
Only heard the news today of Ray’s passing and would like to send my condolences to his family and close friends.
I was a student at Boston College from 1996 to 1998 doing a Media Studies Course. Two lecturers still stand out for the influence they had on me.
The first was Richard Knight from a synth band in the 80’s and of course Ray known to us at that time for his involvement in the Spencer Davis & Ian Gillan bands.
As you can imagine a 16 year old being lectured by two guys who had made it in the music industry was a big deal. A real inspiration and role models.
Ray always spoke to me as an equal despite the age gap and teacher student relationship. He was a real gentleman and I always felt he projected a warmth to the time we all spend in his classes.
Most Fridays a few of us would sit in the music hall during lunch breaks and free periods watching Ray on stage either jamming with the young lads starting out in groups or even showing an absolute novice how to hold a drum stick.
You could see his passion for the industry rub off on others and was so patient in his teaching methods. After leaving college I’d often see him sporadically in Spalding and would exchange words or put a hand up.
It’s funny that I only had two years of my life exposed to Ray but 24 years on from leaving college it’s saddens me hearing the news. Just shows what an influence he had on me.
Sad that Ray is no longer with us and once again my thoughts go to his family.
Ray taught at Boston College, Lincolnshire from 1995-2008
David Randall, 5 May 2022
I first met Ray in the late 1990s when he was working with Peter Purnell at Angel Air Records in respect of his back catalogue. Peter suggested I might help Ray create a website as I had already developed one for the launch of Angel Air.
Ray drove up to my home in Wirral and we spent a weekend sifting through memorabilia and capturing his thoughts on cassette tape. Some of these interviews are now featured on his website.
In the early millennium I encouraged Ray to come up with a smooth jazz offering as – at the time – smooth jazz had a national radio outlet in Jazz FM. And so ‘Tam Tam’ received some airplay and was later re-worked for his digital EP release in January 2021. It’s a lovely piece and a great groove.
There was an incentive to refurbish Ray’s website with the flurry of activity in 2020/21. Ray spent Lockdown readying tracks for his new anthology and was gracious enough to listen to my own thoughts about track sequencing and what he might leave out or substitute. He also entrusted me with the liner notes.
That 4000 word essay was an opportunity to gather research and remind myself just what a great musician he was. I told him that he really deserved the anthology as it fully represented his canon of work. The release in April 2021 coincided with his 60th anniversary in music, an amazing achievement. Sadly his passing came exactly twelve months after that release.
Ray will be remembered by his fans as a true rock journeyman who dipped in and out of different genres but always underpinned by his consummate good taste. As an ace session player he was highly adaptable – “have guitar, will travel” was his watchword – but, left to his own devices, his guitar work was always expressive, economical, or elevated when the song or circumstances dictated.
Ray’s light may have extinguished but his musical legacy – for mere mortals – remains undimmed and, frankly, unsurpassed.
David Randall is Managing Editor at www.getreadytorock.com
Jim McCarthy, 7 June 2022
I met Ray in Bexhill when he was doing a kind of “residency” if you wanna call it that, at the Bexhill Rowing Club in the pub on the seafront upstairs. Over an amusement arcade.
He was a great guitar player – he knew his way round the guitar and he also knew a lot about chords and arrangements and stuff. It was great to meet a “real” musician if you wanna put it like that in Bexhill.
He was an avuncular kind of guy. We would meet at the RAF club and we would have coffee and chat about the music scene.
Since that time I have gone on to write a good few music related books. Ray told me funny stories about the music business and he held friendships around Bexhill and surrounds.
Postie John was one old friend and a good grin to be around. Also others in the biz like Terry Pack, Peter Prescott and Tony Bird.
Ray also did a good bit of work with Johnny Mars. I played with them at the Bexhill Rowing Club adding congas/timbales and percussion to their solid drummers grooves. That was fun doing stuff like Summer of 1969, with a Santana- edged beat etc…
Ray was tidy, well turned out, efficient. Definitely a real pro but also a really good laugh, fun to be around.
He moved away to Lincolnshire and I spoke to him a few times….Alas time moves on and I did not hear from him in a few years. But I will remember him fondly and with much warmth. My sincere condolences to his family – God Bless you Ray – you added a lot to many peoples lives.
Jim McCarthy is a writer and illustrator of graphic novels linked to music subjects