THE death last Friday of Scottish drummer to the stars Ted McKenna came as a great personal shock.
As did the equally awful news on Tuesday of the passing of Scotland’s greatest ever chef, double Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie.
Andrew’s death wasn’t entirely unexpected. For 14 years, he had fought cancer, only to be told last June there was no further treatment and that his condition was terminal.
But it didn’t make hearing of his death any easier.
I knew him because I had eaten at his award-winning restaurant in The Gleneagles Hotel on numerous occasions.
And that’s how I can tell you that he was an absolute genius in the kitchen – and that he was also one of the nicest people you could ever meet.
Humble and brave in equal measure, a real gentleman who would go out of his way to help, even when at his lowest ebb.
He will be sorely missed, but his many honours and accolades, most achieved whilst he was very ill, will be remembered for a long time and, as Nicola Sturgeon rightly pointed out, will inspire a whole new generation of world-class chefs.
The news of the death of my good friend Ted McKenna came as a hammer blow.
Like many rock fans of my age, Ted will always be remembered as the ’70s beating rock heart of the fantastic, the great, the pure dead brilliant… Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
I was an avid fan. I loved them, especially as they were local boys (Ted hailed form Lennoxtown) done good – or bad, depending on your point of view – and their brutal tongue-in-cheek take on Delilah, and their own songs such as Next, Buff Bar Blues, Gang Bang and Faith Healer and their raucous shows at the Glasgow Apollo are the stuff of legend.
When I first met Ted, in 1987, I was driving for the guitarist, John Martyn.
On my first driving gig, I had picked up John and his equipment and made my way to the gig, where we met up with his band.
My jaw nearly hit the floor when I realised Ted was his drummer and, in my star-struck stupidity, made the error of immediately agreeing to be his personal drum roadie.
The fact I had never set up a drum kit, even a toy one, let alone one for a pro who had played with Womack & Womack, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore, Greg Lake and The Scorpions to name but a famous few, never entered my head.
Ted went ballistic and I thought he was going to use my head as a drum!
He discovered his cymbals were falling off their stands, his hi-hat was upside down, his toms were in the wrong positions and his kick drum was back to front.
But, to give him credit, he calmed down and then gave me a lesson in the art of professionally setting up a kit.
When I became a club owner and was promoting shows, he’d often pop in to see a show, meet a band and chat about the old days.
He was always full of advice and supported everything I did.
However, he did warn me to stay away from his kit when I played with him at a 96.3 Rock Radio bash!
He was a musician’s musician, supremely talented, adored and respected around the world.
Recently, Ted went into hospital for surgery on a hernia. He wasn’t to wake up again.
He haemorrhaged and, after surgeons battled in vain to save him, he quietly slipped away to join another band of friends.
His partner Claire Taylor has asked me to say that if you have never given blood before please do so now, as Ted was given many pints of blood. Sadly, the battle to save Ted’s life was lost, but others in similar circumstances may be more fortunate.
RIP Ted McKenna and RIP Andrew Fairlie. Legends who will be terribly missed.