Eddie and the Hot Rods star Barrie Masters who said Aylesbury was one of his favourite places to play dies aged 63

Barrie Masters on stage at Friars in May
Barrie Masters on stage at Friars in May

Barrie Masters, lead singer in Eddie and the Hot Rods has died aged 63.

Rocking until the end, one of Barrie's final gigs was at Friars in May this year, at the Waterside Theatre 50th anniversary celebration alongside Stiff Little Fingers.

From left to right: Eddie and the Hot Rods Barrie Masters, Simon Bowley (drums), Richard Holgarth (guitar), Ian Dipster Dean (bass) with David Stopps

From left to right: Eddie and the Hot Rods Barrie Masters, Simon Bowley (drums), Richard Holgarth (guitar), Ian Dipster Dean (bass) with David Stopps

Speaking to Herald editor Hayley O'Keeffe at the Vive Le Rock Awards weeks before that show, Barrie said how excited he was to come back to town, and that Aylesbury was one of his all time favourite places to play.

Friars co-founder David Stopps, who presented Barrie with a special award at the May show, said: "Barrie was very ill when he played in May of this year at the Friars Aylesbury 50th Anniversary gig with Stiff Little Fingers.

"Anyone else would have cancelled but Barrie was determined to do it as he regarded Friars as his favourite gig in the country. He had to pull back on one song and let Dipster take lead vocals but soldiered on through their anthemic “Do Anything You Wanna Do’ to complete a storming set.

"At the end of the set I presented Barrie on stage with the Friars Heroes Award and the Friars audience immediately went into a football style chant of “Barrie, Barrie, Barrie, Barrie” which brought Barrie to tears. He told me afterwards he had never had a reaction like it.

"Later Sue Stopps caught him in the backstage corridor of the Waterside emotionally looking at the Friars photo exhibition (which will be there until the end of November). He was looking at each photo with nostalgia and wonderment and said to Sue “I’ve had the best life”. Barrie Masters lived for rock music and playing on stage to a live audience. He was a true Friars Aylesbury legend."

Eddie and the Hot Rods, considered by some to be one of the first British punk bands, first played at Friars in February 1976 followed by four more headline Friars gigs in October ‘76, February ‘78 (supported by Squeeze with Jools Holland), March ‘79 and October 2010 at the Waterside as special guests to Buzzcocks.

Aylesbury-born music journalist Kris Needs also paid tribute to the rock 'n' roll star, giving some background on the band's very local links and his own memories of Barrie.

He said: "I first became aware of Eddie and the Hot Rods at that time when punk rock was just starting to take shape in 1975. Dr Feelgood paved the way, then the Hot Rods steamed in to take that energy to the next level. For a short time, they played the local pub circuit, including one memorable night at the Hunt hotel in Leighton Buzzard when, as usual, Barrie scaled the PA stacks and commanded the room as a crackling dynamo of high energy. They even battled severe fog to play Aylesbury's Grammar School's Christmas dance that year.

"Then they made the first of many Friars appearances, becoming firm favourites fast and playing the club's 1976 Christmas party. Barrie was always cheerful, hilarious company and welcoming to the local fans; an Essex boy and proud of it.

"I was very happy for him when my friend Howard Thompson signed the Hot Rods to Island Records and they scored an enormous hit with 'Do Anything You Want To Do' in 1977. They were one of the first bands I did that year when I became editor of Zigzag, who'd been first to put them on a front cover (along with the words 'punk rock'). When I went to interview him at Island, he knew his band had made it and they'd carry on, in some shape or form. I'd see Barrie over the years but, when I interviewed him in 2016 he told me he wasn't very well. Yet, three years later he insisted on making that last appearance on the Friars stage to honour the club's 50th anniversary.

"When I was about to start DJing, Barrie came up, obviously struggling but saying how nothing would stop him playing this show at his favourite club. Then he said he'd better go back and rest in the dressing room and said goodbye. Thinking back, it's almost like he knew it may be for the last time. He'll always be a much-loved larger-than-life one-off for myself and many others."

News of Barrie's death was announced this morning by Eddie and the Hot Rods, in a joint band statement they said: "It is with extreme sadness we announce the passing of the legendary Barrie Masters.

"As you can expect, this sudden news is a huge shock to the band and family.

"We welcome tributes posted to our Facebook and Twitter sites which will be passed on to Barrie's family."