My Photo

the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

Follow 1michaelgray1 on Twitter

Sunday, July 26, 2009


well-known soldier, unknown photographer

So soon after the death of 113-year-old Henry Allingham (see earlier post) comes the death of 111-year-old Harry Patch, who was the last-surviving soldier of any nation to have fought in the trenches in the First World War. He fought in the battle of Passchendaele, at Ypres, in 1917, in which over 70,000 died, including his three closest wartime friends.

He was a particularly nice man, thoughtful and with a fine and modest sense of humour. Again, no particular obituary stands out but he's well worth reading about, and no doubt you can find him on YouTube. Like Henry Allingham, Harry Patch did not speak about the first-hand horrors of the war until he was older than most of us ever get, when it became pressing to speak out before he and the other few survivors were silenced forever.

Dylan fan Andrew Motion wrote a longish poem about him, called The Five Acts of Harry Patch 'The Last Fighting Tommy'. I wonder what he thought of it.

Meanwhile to less tenuous Dylan-connection deaths. Musician, singer and songwriter Kenny Rankin died on June 7th of lung cancer - a mere three weeks after it was diagnosed. He was 69. Forty-four years earlier he had been asked to play some guitar on the Bringing It All Back Home sessions by producer Tom Wilson. Everyone seems rather vague about which tracks he's evident on, if any.

Three days after Rankin, Barry Beckett died at home in Hendersonville TN. He was 66. Here's his entry (obviously now outdated) in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia:

Beckett, Barry [1943 - ]
Barry Beckett was born in Birmingham, Alabama on February 4, 1943. He started his musical life as a pianist for a dancing school, but moved on to become a keyboards session player and eventually a record producer. He first became involved with Rick Hall’s Fame studio, on a session for James & Bobby Purify, and then replaced SPOONER OLDHAM in the Muscle Shoals band. He co-produced Mel & Tim and his later production credits include work with JOAN BAEZ, Joe Cocker, Etta James, JOHN PRINE, Delbert McClinton, Alabama, the Staples Singers and McGUINN-Hillman.

Beckett was co-producing with JERRY WEXLER when, in 1979, Dylan called on Wexler to produce the Slow Train Coming sessions in the Muscle Shoals studio in Sheffield, Alabama. Beckett not only co-produced the album but played piano and organ throughout. He did not go on the road as a gospel tours musician behind Dylan, but he was back in the studio with him in February 1980 to co-produce, again with Wexler, the album Saved, on which he was replaced on keyboards by Spooner Oldham and TERRY YOUNG after the session of February 12, 1980 and so does not play on ‘Saving Grace’, ‘Pressing On’, ‘In The Garden’, ‘Are You Ready?’ or ‘Covenant Woman’, but does play on the album’s title track and on ‘Solid Rock’, ‘What Can I Do For You?’ and ‘Satisfied Mind’. On the album liner notes Beckett is billed as co-producer and as ‘special guest artist’.

In 1985 Beckett moved to Nashville, working with Warner Brothers’ A&R department before running an independent production company. He is also a partner in BTM Records. He has never worked with Dylan again since the Saved sessions.


Post a Comment

<< Home