Originally published 2006-10-03
It is with deep sadness that Westoid.com™ joins many other websites in reporting the death of the legendary Garry Dalloway, lead singer and driving force behind NWOBHM founding fathers THE HANDSOME BEASTS. Dalloway, who had suffered a heart attack in recent years, and was also a diabetic was found dead in his Solihull apartment by friend and current Handsome Beasts guitarist Alan Nyland on August 20, 2006.
I first set eyes on Garry Dalloway at London’s Marquee club in early 1990. My friend Martino and I had ventured out to see a band called Roadhouse, who just happened to be the support act for seminal sixties popsters The Troggs. Trouble was, Roadhouse had cancelled at short notice, their slot going instead to a band with the moniker “The Handsome Beasts”. We had never heard of said musicians, and were, it’s fair to say, less than impressed with their set of bluesy rock – frankly we were too busy scoffing at the appearance of the Beasts’ singer: with his extensive upper body clad in just a leather waistcoat, it was easy to be distracted from the music….
Around two years later I was setting up backline equipment for melodic rockers SHY at Tramp in Birmingham. It was a big night for the band, as it was their first hometown show with new singer John “Wardi” Ward, and it was a big night for me too, as it was my first show with Shy – I had only met up with the band the day before, and was essentially auditioning for a part in their roadcrew. As I completed setting up, I was summoned to meet the band’s sound engineer, a man I of course instantly recognized from that Beasts gig. “Flabbie” as he was introduced to me, and affectionately known, turned out to be one of the warmest and most genuine people I ever met in the music business.
Flabbie engineered the band’s sound at almost every Shy gig I worked on during my two years on their crew, and as a result we spent a good deal of time together cruising the trunk roads of Britain in vans and tour buses, humping equipment, sleeping on floors, and generally waiting around in cold studios, chilly rehearsal rooms and draughty gig venues. Some of my fondest memories date from this period of my life, and while they form around a framework of Shy gigs, it is the times I spent with Flabbie and the other alternating members of the roadcrew which shine thorough, the band members themselves being largely relegated to the supporting cast, with one exception.
At one stage the band’s drum technician was Stevie McGee, a lad from Dudley who also played drums in an early version of Adrenalin Kick. Like Flabbie, he wasn’t the slimmest geezer, and during this period the three of us would drive the band’s gear from show to show in a Luton van: with a smallish seat for the driver, and what was really one-and-a-half seats for the other two, the conditions could hardly be described as luxurious. Flabbie was always at the wheel on account of him being the only one over 21, and I was always by the window, mainly due to my incessant smoking of Marlboro Reds, or “rock-an-roll-cigarettes” as Flabbie always referred to them, leaving the other two to compete for the privilege of hanging half their butt over the gear lever.
Often after shows I would sleep at the band’s rehearsal space, but on other occasions, usually in the winter, Flabbie would take pity on me and invite me back to his place where I could make use of his shower in addition to stretching out on his couch. Flabbie used to say that his one concession to house guests – for which I was always grateful – was to wear his clothes rather than swan around naked as he chose to do when unaccompanied. We used to unwind after a hard night's graft by watching dusty old VHS tapes of local bands mixed with comedy shows like Billy Connelly, while Flabbie took a very sharp hunting knife and cut the neatest roaches I’ve ever seen from an old Benson & Hedges packet.
On one particular occasion, we had driven back from a show in Hull, not arriving until it was light. Flabbie had to be up again in just a few hours in order to return the van before nine. Still, being the gentleman that he was, he left me to sleep in, not waking me until he had returned and prepared a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs. After we had finished eating, and I was muttering a few lines of gratitude mixed with an offer to buy him a pint “later on”, he turned and uttered the line I’ll always remember: “never mind that, the only payment I demand is one of your rock-and-roll cigarettes.” It goes without saying that I was happy to cough up.
Garry Dalloway leaves three classic albums but will be best remembered for the cover of the Beasts' 1980 debut Beastiality, which features the vocalist cavorting naked in a pig sty with an equally large sow.
The band disintegrated in the mid-eighties, before regrouping for the Beast Within album in 1990.
|The Handsome Beasts circa 1990|
A more recent lineup was constructed in 2004 for the 04 album. As a result of renewed fan interest, thanks largely to the internet, the Beasts had played live several times in 2006 and were close to completing a new record at the time Garry passed.
|The Handsome Beasts 2006|
Garry's funeral was held on Sept 7, 2006, at The Woodlands Cemetery & Crematorium, Birmingham Rd, Coleshill, Birmingham, UK. The remaining members of the Beasts, joined by various former members of the band, performed a benefit show for Garry at The Roadhouse, Stirchley, Birmingham on Sept 22, 2006; vocal duties were shared by Simon Hall and John “Wardi” Ward.
The Handsome Beasts final studio album Rock And A Hard Place featuring guest appearances from Pete Way (UFO), Spike (Quireboys) and John "Wardi" Ward (Shame, Shy, OD Saxon) amongst others, was eventually completed and released in 2007.