Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

Welsh prog rock band Man guitarist Micky Jones dies

Micky Jones
Micky Jones played with Man from its formation in 1968 until ill health in 2002

Guitarist and singer Micky Jones, one of the founders of Welsh prog rock band, Man, has died aged 63.

With Merthyr Tydfil-born Jones, the band had four Top 40 UK albums from the late 1960s and toured across Europe and America, where admirers included Frank Zappa.

Friend and former colleague Phil Little said Jones had a "command of melody" and was "the most humble guy".

Jones, who had been fighting a brain tumour, died at a care home in Swansea.

Mr Little, who played with Jones in the 1980s with the London-based The Flying Pigs, said Frank Zappa once described Jones as "one of the 10 best guitarists in the world".

He said: "I did hundreds of gigs with him and I never saw him have a cross word with anybody. He had maximum respect from all the musicians.

Micky Jones in a publicity shot for United Artists
With Micky Jones on guitar, Man had four albums in the UK UK Top 40

"He had great command of melody. He would improvise fantastically. He also have a very pure and soulful voice."

Jones' first band The Bystanders, was a Merthyr-based close harmony five-piece formed in the early 1960s, with BBC Wales radio presenter Owen Money, who was calling himself Gerry Braden, on vocals.

Money said he was "devastated" at the loss of someone who was a family friend as well as an artistic collaborator.

He said: "We came up together, we shared our life together. I know it was an inevitability but words can't express what I'm feeling at the moment.

"He taught me to play the guitar. His first job was as a hairdresser. He cut my hair.

"He was a fantastic musician. He had a "Frankie Valli" voice. We were set apart from any band in Wales at the time - we could do songs others could not do - because of his high falsetto voice.

The line-up of Man in 2000
Micky Jones (second right) was ever-present in the band's line-up

The women loved him so much, especially in the 60s. There we girls screaming and always three times as many screaming for Micky than anyone else. He was a good looking boy."

In 1968, after Money had moved on, the Bystanders added Deke Leonard, Jones' guitar partner for some three decades, embraced the counterculture and became Man.

They had four albums in the UK Top 40 between 1973 and 1976 and toured on continental Europe and America.

Music journalist Michael Heatley, who ran a Man fans newsletter for 20 years, said the band reached "the upper second division of British rock" but had been overlooked in the history of rock.

He said: "Man were a live band. People would go and see them because they knew that the live performance was going to be much better than the record.

Touring

"Micky was a fantastic improvisational guitarist. Deke would create the outline and Micky would "fill in the bits". The thing that kept people coming back was the he could make the guitar talk."

Man's ever-changing line-up had some 20 musicians over the years.

Jones was an ever-present member of Man, who split in 1976 and re-formed in 1983, until a brain tumour caused his departure in 2002.

He returned briefly two years later but retired from touring and spent his last years in residential care.

His son George was his immediate replacement, but he is now pursuing his own musical ideas away from Man.

He said: "I was so proud of him as a father and as a performer. To share a stage with him and be part of that legacy is one of the proudest moments."


Here are a selection of your tributes to Micky Jones:

I loved Man from the first time i heard the "be good to yourself at least once a day" album, in 1972/3. I feel very sad tonight to hear that Micky had passed away. Thoughts and condolences to all his family and friends. xx
Maggie Wilson, Boncath, west Wales

Terribly sad to hear Man founder member and guitarist Micky Jones has died. He was one of the true unsung guitar heroes of his generation. His angular style of playing, colourful tones and wah wah work emulated both Zappa and Jerry Garcia, but brought with it a unique Welsh flavour that was forever Man!
Pete Feenstra, London UK

Similarly to Lionel Griffiths I have fond memories of seeing Mickey playing with the Bystanders in Beaufort Ballroom, only in the early days I recall them being called Gerry and the Bystanders? I also seem to recall hearing them do a live set on the BBC radio Saturday club programme hosted by Brian Matthew.

Such a sad loss RIP Mickey.
Barrie Parham, Cwmbran, Wales

I first discovered Man after they re-formed in the 80's, after borrowing 'Be Good to Yourself at Least Once a Day' off a friend.

I saw them play several times but a live gig in Dora's (or the Marina Nightspot as it was then) will always stick in my mind. Micky and Deke were an incredible double act and when Man had been practising, I heard nothing better live.

Micky and the band influenced more than one generation and were way ahead of the Manics in flying the Welsh flag.

Rest in peace Micky-you made one hell of a difference.
Ian

Man have always been one of my favourite bands, and Micky was the heart and soul of the band. I had the great pleasure of seeing him 4 times with Man. I managed to meet him one time, and what a great guy. You'll be missed a lot, Micky.
James Burton, Toronto, Canada

A sad day. Micky had been ill for some time so at least there's no more suffering. He will be remembered not only for his very special style of playing, but also for his brilliant voice! He never gained the widespread recognition he deserved, but he will live on in the memories of everyone who was fortunate to see him play - each solo was unique! He deserves recognition as one of the most talented guitarists of the 20th century. Nos Da Micky
Adrian Hughes, Pontyclun

What a great shock - the Welsh music scene of the last 40 years will all remember as I do of such breathtaking performances. From a personal point of view I was lucky enough to do a video of them for a performance in Merthyr in the late 90's and rarely missed their local gigs in the early 70's, Micky memories of a great Man.
Trevor Powell, Merthyr Tydfil

Mickey Jones was a truly unique guitar player & vocalist, he possessed the ability to add the je ne sais quoi MAGIC to every MAN track on which he appeared. One of my all-time favourite musicians. R.I.P.
Neil Robinson, Workington

It was around 1979 I got into MAN - ironic the first taste was All's Well that Ends Well - but I was hooked and it was great news when they reformed - they didn't do a lot of new material from then on, but what they did produce was great stuff and I play it a lot. Definitely a live band and I was fortunate to see Micky and the boys in Blackpool on a number of occasions - always a special night - but not the same when Micky wasn't in the band - a real top quality guitarist who'll be massively missed.
Andy Bassett, Blackpool, Lancs,

I knew Mickey most of my life, I last saw him several years ago in Merthyr when I was on a visit, he was still the same person I knew as a 12 year old I saw him play with the Bystanders many times and couple of times with Man, always a smile on his face , he never had the recognition that his talent deserved
Allan Grainger, Richmond Virginia U.S

I was lucky enough to see Micky Jones play on many occasions over the years and in my opinion he was the most underated guitar man within the rock music genre....

His improvisation skills are of legend,and he had the ability to put you under a cosmic spell when going off on one of his incredible long solo,s.

He was a true welsh icon and as humble as they came,and i will never forget his incredible talent and those special concert memories will remain forever,he was a guitar colossus and a great human being.
Colin Jouxson, Hengoed,South Wales

It's heartbreaking. I had to leave work and go home and play his music again as soon as I heard.

I wrote a eulogy to Micky a couple of years back which was published in an American anthology. I've updated it slightly and published it on the Terrascope's website today. It's nothing compared to what I owe the guy, but it's all my heart can offer right now: http://www.terrascope.co.uk/Features/Micky_Jones.htm
Phil McMullen, Melksham, Wiltshire, England

Live at the Paget Rooms is still one of the best live albums I have ever heard.

The music and the memories live on.
Martin Price, Newport Wales

Mickey had pure class.

If you want to undertand how to play guitar just listen to his playing - different on every song - effortless and unhurried.

Thanks for all the good times!
Mike Piper, South Wales

You have to remember that there were very few ARTISTIC 'role models' around at that time and Man gave us kids from the valleys towns the EXAMPLE, the hope and self esteem and the realisation that you could be an artist and that you didn't have to work 12 hour shifts in a factory. I really mean that.

I went to Newport School of Art on the strength of this idea and have never looked back. I am now 52 years of age and still love Man's work,

THANK YOU Micky Jones you are partly responsible for this
Neil Carroll, Monmouth Wales

Growing up in the 70's in South Wales listening to Man was a pleasure I shal never forget. Whether coincidence or not, I was litening to the Back in to the Furure album on my daily commute the morning of the 10th. A truely great underated gutiarist, but his legacy lives on.
Keith Thomas, Boston, USA

A very sad for all old aging rock fans. Micky Jones was one of those iconic guitarists that could hold your attention when on stage. I remember watching Man with him on lead guitar and vocals in the Top Rank in Swansea around 1973.

I still watch a Man live DVD I have regularly and his guitar work was electrifying. I shall watch it again tonight with a tear in my eye. A great musician that will be sadly missed. My best wishes to his family for their loss, and to the extended family of rockers of south Wales.
Lance, Swansea

i remember him playing with the bystanders at the library in tonypandy whenever they were there i would always go to see them, he was an outstanding guitarist in the early days and was even better with man one of the worlds best
robert owen, porth mid glamorgan

Sad news. I remember Man from the '70s and only last year replaced worn out vinyls of 2 Man albums with CDs.

mike, Clun, Shropshire

Mickey Jones was a wonderful guitarist and he and Deke Leonard were a partnership made in heaven . I have many happy childhood memories of hazy sunny days in Abercraf listening in wide eyed awe to Maximum Darkness . God Bless you Mickey you will be remembered with great warmth and much admiration
Gavin Macho, Cardiff

Sad news.One of the great unsung British Rock bands and one of the most talented guitar players.I never saw them live but have loved the albums for years.I recommend Deke's books about the band to anyone with a love of their music.
hugh, bristol

Man used to play at the Torrington, nr Tally Ho, London N12 regularly. Also saw them w legendary John Cipolina at Roundhouse in 1975. Somewhere i've still got the red badge....
Richard Ellis, Stoke Newington, London

A tragedy. I first saw Micky playing (with Man) in 1973, and have seen him/them more than any other band (15 times, mainly in Swansea, but also in Port Talbot, Cardiff, Coventry, Salford and High Wycombe), seeing him for the last time in Coventry in 2004 (I think!). As a guitarist he has always been one of my favorites. He will be missed.
Clifton Jones, Matlock, Derbyshire

A sad day indeed. I remember playing support to the Bystanders in of all places under the circumstances, the Afan Lido. You couldn't help but admire them, and Micky especially. I will be thinking about his family tonight.
Bob Williams, Pontardawe

Wales has lost one of it's truly world class sons. Together with Deke Leonard, and Tony Bourge of Budgie, Wales really did have some of the best guitarists on the planet during the 70's. Kids, if you don't believe me, check out your parents old albums, or Youtube if you don't have a record deck! RIP Micky Jones.
Leonard Day, Cardiff, South Wales, UK

2 ozs of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle will remain an a Iconic Work. Always better live in whatever form they took. I followed them on their Welsh Xmas Tour to Rumney Tech, Barry Memorial Hall etc unforgettable. Mickey will be sadly missed
Bob Mullins, Cardiff

Southend Kursaal Ballroom, 1970's, Man live, great nights - sad news
Steve Robinson, Southend Essex

This is really sad news I am devastated to hear that he has passed away. He was a truly brilliant guitarist and I spent many many hours watching him play with the superb Bystanders in the 60s at the famous Beaufort Ballroom. Micky never received the recognition he deserved but he is right up there in the top five of guitarists such as Clapton and Green as far as I am concerned. What a sad day for the music world.
Lionel Griffiths, Ebbw Vale, Wales



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