By VennerRoad, 16th Nov 2017
Deke Leonard served a life sentence in the music business.
Deke Leonard in his prime
Deke was found of saying that, in the present tense. Sadly, he will say it no more. The guitarist and songwriter died January 31 this year, although I only realised that this month. His death was reported inter alia by the BBC website which I log onto regularly, but his passing did not receive the same coverage as either the better known Tom Petty or the legendary Chuck Berry.
That being said, Deke was a legendary character in his own right; these islands punch well above their weight in contemporary music, and Deke left an enormous legacy which millennials would do well to explore.
My first recollection of Deke was seeing him perform A Hard Way To Live on The Old Grey Whistle Test, which was apparently in December 1973, after I left school. As soon as I could, I bought his new Kamikaze album on vinyl, and in due course the Man albums Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics and the live double Maximum Darkness, the latter of which has been expanded and remastered. Check out too The Welsh Connection.
So who was Deke Leonard? Deke was born Roger Leonard at Llanelli on December 18, 1944. His early life and progression are related in his hilarious autobiography Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics: The Legend Of Man, A Rock ’N’ Roll Band. His publisher obviously liked his flippant style, and he went on to write a follow up, Maybe I Should’ve Stayed In Bed? and the excellent The Twang Dynasty, a book that showed he really knew his craft.
Although he was involved with a number of projects, Deke is best known for his tenure with Man. At the time of writing there are only three entries for Man in the SongFacts database, but more will doubtless be added in due course. The official Deke Leonard website is still being maintained and doubtless will continue for the indefinite future. The Man Archive is another excellent on-line resource. Sadly, I never saw Deke live, but you can as there is some excellent footage of him and the guys on YouTube, the video hub of the world.
If I had to choose my favourite Deke tracks they would both be Man recordings, the uptempo Scotch Corner from Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics and Daughter Of The Fireplace which sees him playing some blistering lead.
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