Remembering legendary Bucks musician Colin Keinch, a 'walking lightbulb who lit up any room'

Pal's tribute to former bandmate whose proudest moment was having single produced by Mick Jones of The Clash

By Kris Needs
Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 9:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 8:39 pm

Aylesbury lost a music legend on April 12 when guitarist and Friars mainstay Colin Keinch passed away after a long illness.

I also lost a best friend, former band-mate and partner-in-mischief for several decades.

The torrent of Facebook tributes affirmed how many Colin touched over the years, all remembering his friendly, outgoing nature, musical passion and loud, infectious laugh.

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Colin Keinch

Speaking at his funeral at Watermead Crematorium, I likened Colin to “a walking lightbulb”, lighting up any room, party or pub he entered.

Remembering Jane McDonald's Buckingham fiance Wally RotheWe’d both gone to Queen’s Park junior school before Colin passed his eleven-plus and attended the Henry Floyd.

A devout Friars regular from the early 70s, promoter David Stopps remembers Colin as “a true Aylesbury legend,” who “became an essential part of Aylesbury’s music scene.”

David recalls joining Colin and his brother Brian sweeping the hall after shows, miming to records like the Shadows on their brooms as “Standard Lamp and the Shades”.

Standard Lamp and the Shades mime with their broomsticks

I started seeing Colin regularly when I started on The Bucks Advertiser and he worked up Church Street at Horwood & James solicitors. Lunch-times usually saw us meeting with Zigzag magazine founder Pete Frame (then working at Aylesbury Brewery Company), Magenta De Vine and others, making plans to position Aylesbury as “the centre of the universe”.

We started The Aylesbury Roxette fanzine to cover local bands and Friars, hand-drawing and laying it out at the BA office after work.

In ’76, Pete formed us a garage-punk band he named The Aylesbury Bucks and let us rehearse at his North Marston cottage.

I was “singing” as Colin unleashed lethal rhythm guitar, joined by bassist Paul Kendall, guitarist Robin Boult and BA reporter Fraser Pierson on drums.

“Colin was at the centre of so many good times in Aylesbury – always cheerful, always radiating enthusiasm and positivity,” recalls Pete.

“Whenever you bumped into him, he made the day brighter. I shall miss him very much.”

Colin was an early fan of New York’s Ramones, selling his rare “dress cover” copy of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World to finance trips to New York to check out its punk scene.

Typical Colin; while we dreamed of going to CBGBs, he actually did it, establishing an Aylesbury-New York connection through the friends he inevitably made.

In 1977, Colin campaigned for David Stopps to put the Ramones on at Friars – successfully.

Now editing Zigzag, I attended many gigs by The Clash, Johnny Thunders, Flamin’ Groovies, Doll By Doll, etc, usually with Colin leading an Aylesbury squad. The bands all loved him, particularly his beloved Ramones when we toured the UK with them.

By 1978, the Bucks had become the punk-driven Vice Creems, supporting the Adverts and Lurkers at Friars and playing Otway’s free Market Square concert.

After recording our first single, ‘Won’t You Be My Girl’/’01 01 212’ in London with Elvis Costello’s engineer, the band had split when we came to do the follow-up, ‘Danger Love’.

Luckily, The Clash’s guitarist Mick Jones offered to produce our single (at famous Olympic studios), bringing along their drummer Topper Headon, Generation X bassist Tony James and Billy Idol on backing vocals!

One of my greatest Colin memories is watching him having such a blast playing Mick’s Les Paul in this punk rock supergroup.

Colin regarded that single as his proudest moment, so the funeral rang with B-side ‘Like A Tiger’ (along with the Ramones’ ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ and Doll By Doll), after a message of condolence from The Clash.

The last Vice Creems gig was January 1980’s opening night of their 16 Tons tour at Friars, coming on before surprise guests Ian Dury & The Blockheads with a line-up Colin had worked up in two days!

The Green Man pub was our social hub, Colin writing out the weekly jukebox top ten which I printed in Zigzag.

After my first marriage (understandably) collapsed, Colin and his partner Kate invited me to move into their Bishops Walk flat.

Our love of classic comedy like Will Hay, Bilko and Spike Milligan exploded, along with endless Foghorn Leghorn impressions, visitors including the Flamin’ |Groovies, Blondie and Jah Wobble.

After my five years living in New York, Colin invited me to move back in on my return in 1990.

We became a DJ duo, playing the Dark Lantern and Wellhead, joined by my African American girlfriend Wonder, who he warmly welcomed too.

As she said in her moving funeral message, Wonder never forgot his warm hospitality (along with his Andy Stewart obsession).

When Wonder and I’s recording career took off in ‘95, I soon invited Colin to move into the big house I bought on Walton Road.

It was the least I could do. The much-missed Ship was our base (Colin winning the Mr Ship contest sporting nothing but a paper bag).

Then life took its path as it does, although we kept in touch and he attended some of our Vinyl On Wednesdays events.

Like Kate and Brian, who both cared for him in his final years, I miss Colin terribly. He’s probably having a blast raising hell with Strummer, Lemmy, Thunders and everyone else he touched with his livewire spirit.

Rest in (not too much) peace, old friend.