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Obituary: Yorkshire music legend Stuart Colman

60s hitmaker - Harrogate's Stuart Colman in the pop band Pinkerton's Assorted Colours who were signed to Decca Records.
60s hitmaker - Harrogate's Stuart Colman in the pop band Pinkerton's Assorted Colours who were signed to Decca Records.

Ian Stuart Colman: December 19, 1944 - April 19, 2018

Shakin Stevens was among those paying tribute to a Harrogate-born music industry legend who died last week after a long battle with cancer

A music industry great - Producer, musician and broadcaster Stuart Colman from Harrogate.

A music industry great - Producer, musician and broadcaster Stuart Colman from Harrogate.

The 80s hitmaker paid tribute to his friend and former producer Stuart Colman on Twitter saying: "In memory of our close colleague and long time friend, who still had a lot more to give.

"Rest in peace, Stuart, and carry on listening to the music you loved so much. Much love to Annie, who was the rock he needed. "

But who was Stuart Colman and why was he so famous in the music industry in both the UK and USA?

Put simply, he was the single most important music industry figure to emerge from Harrogate - or most other places - since the war.

One of a kind, he made his mark everywhere he travelled in an illustrious career, and he travelled far.

His status can be judged by the fact Colman was a godparent to one of late 50s guitar legend Duane Eddy’s children.

Born Ian Stuart Colman in Harrogate on December 19, 1944 to a well-known musical family, Colman was a musician, record producer and broadcaster who excelled at the very top of the musical tree.

Colman sold a million records in America at the height of the 1960s, became an influential champion of 50s rock n roll and rockabilly on his own show on BBC Radio 1 in the 1970s, before moving onto BBC Radio London and Capital Radio, wrote a regular column for music paper Melody Maker, produced successful records for a host of top country acts over several decades and worked with everyone from Cliff Richard to Kate Bush.

He was best known, perhaps, for turning Shakin' Stevens into a number one hit-making machine in the 1980s.

But his music career began young as a teenager in Harrogate in pre-Beatles era of the very early 1960s when he joined rock band The Denvers at Harrogate Grammar School with fellow music-mad schoolboys including Bob Mason.

After he left Harrogate to move to Rugby, Stuart went on to play bass with Swinging Sixties pop band Pinkerton’s Assorted Colors, who scored a sole top ten single in the UK 1965 before a change of line-up and name to Flying Machine in 1969.

As part of the new outfit, Stuart enjoyed a top five hit in the USA with Smile a Little Smile for Me, which sold a million copies.

After the band split up in the early 1970s, Stuart became a session musician, music producer and radio broadcaster - all at the same time.

After he was brought in the early 1980s by Epic Records to help with the Welsh rock n roller's solo career, Colman found a hit formula with Stevens almost instantaneously, producing early hits like Hot Dog and Marie, Marie followed by a series number one singles including This Old House, Green Door and Oh Julie.

Colman enjoyed another number one hit in 1986 when he produced that year's Comic Relief record, Livin Doll with Cliff Richard and the cast of BBC comedy show The Young Ones.

By the mid-1990s he had moved with his family to Nashville, Tennessee, partly in order to devote his talents to country acts.

A health scare in 2002 saw him diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and he had to endure chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

Colman then returned to Britain in 2014 but continued to run music projects from his new home in the Cotswolds despite his cancer.

Despite all the many things he achieved in his music career, Stuart never lost his love for the bass, holding his six-stringed 1962 Fender Bass VI and, in particular, his Fender Telecaster which hs described as "my Special One" in high regard.

A close family friend issued an initial statement yesterday on the behalf of Stuart's family to mark his sad passing.

It said: "Stuart Coleman, aged 73, has died after a long battle with cancer in a Sue Ryder hospice outside Cheltenham. He lived in the Cotswolds and was active in the music industry until the end. He leaves a wife, son and two daughters."