Home The Beatles OBITUARY: Roy Young played with The Beatles but turned down chance to join Fab Four

OBITUARY: Roy Young played with The Beatles but turned down chance to join Fab Four

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ROY Young, who has died aged 83, was a rock n’ roll star who played with David Bowie and The Beatles but turned down the chance to join the Fab Four.

Roy Frederick Young was born on October 20, 1934, in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

He was evacuated to Oxford at the start of the Second World War, and his family would eventually settle there.

His mother Lily was a well-known pub pianist in the city and he played the piano from the age of eight.

When he left South Oxford School in St Aldate’s he began performing around Oxford, most frequently at the Carpenters Arms in Cowley.

After serving in the Merchant Navy, where he travelled the world and performed many shows for crews and passengers, he auditioned for the TV pop show Oh Boy! in 1958.

His rendition of the Little Richard hit Long Tall Sally led producer Jack Good to make him a regular on the BBC Saturday teatime show and its ITV rival Drumbeat.

The following year he recorded his first single Just Keep It Up / Big Fat Mama – thought to be a tribute to his mother.

After several more singles recorded for Fontana Records he began extensive tours with Cliff Richard and The Shadows, playing clubs, theatres, variety shows and cabaret dinner clubs all over the country.

In 1961 he began playing at The Top Ten Club in Hamburg as well as other stages in Germany.

With Tony Sheridan and Ringo Starr he formed The Beat Brothers’ and become the house band.

Mr Young then paired with Sheridan to appear at Hamburg’s famous Star Club where he was hired to enlist talent such as The Beatles, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bill Haley.

A friendship began between him and The Beatles and before long he was enlisted to play keyboard and sing backing vocals.

He later told the Oxford Mail that after coming off stage one night the band’s manager Brian Epstein said: “The four lads asked me to ask if you would be interested in going back to England and join them to get a record contract.”

He said it was an incredible offer and he would consider it but ultimately turned them down – years later he said he ‘became so sick’ of being asked how he felt about walking away.

Back in England he joined Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers.

He did work with The Beatles to record ‘Got to Get You Into My Life’ where he joined Paul McCartney on the keyboards.

He then formed The Roy Young Band releasing numerous albums in the 1970s.

In 1974, while recording another album he received a phone call from David Bowie asking him to fly out to Los Angeles to record his ‘Station to Station’ album.

He declined due to recording commitments but joined him at La Chateau in Paris to record Bowie’s ‘Low’ album.

By this time he had been married twice, having a daughter with Sheila Ramsden and a son and a daughter with Antje Gatke.

In 1976 he moved to Canada to be with Carol Kerr, whom he married in 1979.

He toured Canada and America throughout the late 1970s and 1980s both with his band and various artists including Long John Baldry, who he managed for three years.

In 1995 he returned to Germany to play the 40th anniversary concert at The Star Club and made a personal appearance with Yoko Ono for John Lennon’s art show.

When he returned to the UK in 2007 – settling in Kingston Bagpuize with his wife Carol – he continued to release music.

A talented snooker player from a young age, he represented Oxford in England’s youth championship and became close friends with 1981 world champion Cliff Thorburn.

He died on April 27 at the age of 83 and is survived by his wife Carol and three children, Caroline, Rikki and Michele.

His funeral will be held at Oxford Crematorium on Tuesday at 1pm.

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