Gerry Conway dead at 76 – Seventies rock musician passes away as Cat Stevens leads tributes

SEVENTIES rock musician Gerry Conway has died aged 76 with heartfelt tributes pouring in.

The English folk and rock drummer passed away on March 29 after a period of illness.

Gerry Conway performing at The Royal Albert Hall In London in 2009


Gerry Conway performing at The Royal Albert Hall In London in 2009Credit: Getty
Fairport Convention performing in 2014


Fairport Convention performing in 2014Credit: Alamy
Gerry playing the drums at Fairport's Cropredy Convention back in 2016


Gerry playing the drums at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention back in 2016Credit: Alamy

Gerry served as Fairport’s drummer from 1988 until 2022.

The music icon remained with the group until he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease two years ago.

In a heartfelt tribute to “our dear friend and former drummer” on their website, Fairport wrote: “He brought to the band an impeccable understanding of ‘feel’ and comradeship, a unique sense of subtlety and a complete understanding of what was required.

“His name spread far and wide and was the envy of his peers.

“Fairport Convention’s thoughts and condolences are with Gerry’s partner Jacqui and the family.”

British music icon Cat Stevens was quick to pay tribute to former bandmate and dear friend Gerry.

He wrote: “Sadly my great old drummer, Gerry Conway just passed away.

“What a lad, and what ingenuity and style. May God grant him the beautiful reward of peace everlasting.”

Simon Nicol also saluted his “dearest drumming pal”, he said: “Wonderfully patient and wise, infuriatingly tardy but always ready and eager to play, and blessed with his own inner calm and solidity.

“I’m going to miss him more than I can say.”

Fairport band founder Simon Nicol added: “None of us knew that he was in the early stages of that pernicious horror Motor Neurone Disease.

“I didn’t know until today, when news of his death filtered out from the protection and privacy he and Jacqui McShee [Conway’s wife, and Pentangle singer] sought and deserved.”

Born in Norfolk and brought up in London, Gerry was originally a staff musician at EMI before playing with British blues legend Alexis Korner.

He then went on to form folk rock band Eclection with Trevor Lucas in 1968.

Through him he came to be a member of Fotheringay, Sandy Denny‘s post-Fairport group.

He was also an in-demand session drummer, and in the ’70s performed on albums by Iain Matthews, John Cale, Steeleye Span, Mike McGear, Shelagh McDonald, Al Stewart, Denny and Cat Stewart.

His long association with Cat Stevens began with 1971’s Teaser And The Firecat and lasted until the singer-songwriter’s retirement at the end of the decade.

In the 1980s Gerry played with Richard Thompson, Jethro Tull and Pentangle.

He then joined Fairport Convention as a permanent member in 1998, a trifling 25 years after he appeared on three songs on their album Rosie.

Gerry remained with the group until he became ill in 2022.

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