Ever listened to your favourite album or favourite song and thought ‘I wish I could do that'? Well for drummer Martin Kemp and lifelong friends Erik Richardson (bass) and John Radford (lead guitar), this wish has become a bit of an obsession, so determined are they to fulfil the dreams of their friend and band mate Dave Murray, who died from prostate cancer last year.
Dave had been diagnosed in 2012 after suffering back pain and urine problems. He’d then had a prostatectomy, but the cancer had started to spread. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions followed but he was becoming more ill, and soon found out he had stopped responding to treatment.
“We wanted to form a band to give Dave some purpose” Martin said. “He had always enjoyed playing guitar but most of us had never played seriously. We learnt a few cover versions but then started to write our own songs and record demos. We joked that one day we would play live and be able to say ‘this was from our first album’!”
Recording and playing gave Dave “a focus and took his mind off the illness” Martin said. “Through the early part he was really active and positive” he added. “The recording was very good fun, a lot of banter. He didn’t always fancy playing guitar and we all understood. So we just chatted, watched TV, had a drink.
“We were set to have a rehearsal on Wednesday 3 September 2014 but Dave wasn’t up for it. So we had a drink and watched some tennis on the TV. He died on the Friday morning, aged 56. He was about to start a clinical trial that morning.”
At Dave’s funeral his wife Ann asked if one of the songs he’d written and they’d recorded – Counting On You – could be played. “She’d never heard it but I think she was proud of what he was doing. I think the song was probably from the heart. He never told us who it was for. But hearing the song at the funeral was emotional. Afterwards lots of people came up to us and said if they could have a copy of the song. Dave only got to record on three of the songs so that’s why we really wanted to finish the album – for Dave”.
So the rest of the band (named Clockwork Dragon – “it really doesn’t have any deep or meaningful background but the fact all four of us agreed was good enough! “Martin said) have been on a mission to complete the album, encouraging friends, family and contacts to sponsor them, with the proceeds going to Prostate Cancer UK to help more men like Dave. “Dave’s definitely driven us on.” Martin said. “We’ve even used Dave’s guitar; it gives us the sounds he’d have given us. It has brought us closer together.”
So what does it sound like? “Some tracks are probably influenced by Dave, they’re quite poignant.” Martin said. “Some are probably influenced by the music we first bonded over.” Dave and Martin met in their early 20’s. “He was a probationary police officer and I worked in double glazing so while he chased the culprits, I’d board up the shop windows they broke!” But where they really bonded was over music. “He’d always have tickets to gigs and ask if I wanted to go. We were really into Eric Clapton and Dave particularly liked Dr Feelgood. So Bluesy Rock/Pop might be a label for the album but it’s all rather eclectic!”
We’ll have an event at the tennis club, where Dave used to play, and we’ll have a drink and raise a glass to him
Now, with the album nearly complete, it’s given everyone involved time to reflect on creating something extra special. “It’s been good fun” Martin said. “And difficult at times. It’s like it used to be, just without Dave. But we never thought we’d be able to do something like this. We’d never thought one day we’d write and record something. But these are our songs and they’re personal to all of us.”
The band plan to release the album on 18 August this year; what would have been Dave’s 57th birthday. “Our initial run is 100 copies which we’re confident of selling to family, friends and people we know” Martin said. “On the 18th we’ll have an event at the tennis club, where Dave used to play, and we’ll have a drink and raise a glass to him.”
Kevin Webber, who lives with advanced prostate cancer, tells us his extraordinary story of marathon running while undergoing chemotherapy, and how he now plans to compete in the epic, trans-Sarahan Marathon Des Sables in April.