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Tony Meehan

Shadows founder member Tony Meehan dies
29 November 2005

Tony Meehan, one of the founding members of The Shadows, died aged 62 yesterday following an accident at his London home.

Meehan, who passed away at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, played drums on all of the group's early hits such as Apache and Man Of Mystery, while he was also part of The Shadows line up which backed Cliff Richard on the likes of his debut hit Move It and UK chart toppers Living Doll, Travellin' Light, Please Don't Tease and I Love You.

Details have yet to have emerged as to the nature of the accident, which happened in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Born in Hampstead in March 1943, Meehan began playing the drums when he was 10 and joined his first band three years later when he started playing in a dance hall in Willesden in London. He had planned to become a lawyer, but decided instead to take up the offer when aged 15 of earning £25 a week playing in a touring show. Although the tour never ended up happening, Meehan continued pursuing a music career, with his engagements including playing in The Vipers with future Shadows colleague Jet Harris.

He joined The Shadows in 1958, performing on a string of hit singles, beginning with Move It with Cliff Richard. The group, who were originally known as The Drifters for their first hits but changed their name to The Shadows because of the American Drifters, themselves scored a string of hits away from Cliff Richard during Meehan's time with the group, on their way to becoming the most successful instrumental act in UK chart history.

Meehan left the group in 1961 to work in A&R at Decca Records, while he subsequently was reunited with bass player Jet Harris, who had also by then left The Shadows, and they scored a string of hits. These included the 1963 UK chart-topper Diamonds and Scarlet O'Hara, which peaked at two in the same year.

However, their promising start was cut short when, a few days after the release of the single Applejack (itself a top five hit) in 1963, Harris's chauffeur-driven limousine was involved with a collision with a Midland Red Bus and he suffered serious head injuries. Although Harris made some attempted comebacks, the hit partnership with Meehan was not revived.

Meehan, who as a session musician in the early Sixties played on hits by the likes of Frank Ifield, John Leyton and Billy Fury, spent the last few years following his interests in psychology and psychiatry. He leaves a wife, Sue, five sons and two daughters.

 

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