Standing room only for funeral of Aylesbury legend 'Rocking' Ray Smith

'Rocking' Ray Smith
'Rocking' Ray Smith

Hundreds of friends and former band-mates packed into Aylesbury Vale Crematorium last Wednesday for “A Thanksgiving and Celebration” for the life of ‘Rocking’ Ray Smith, much-loved lynch-pin of Aylesbury’s music scene for over 50 years.

Hundreds of friends and former band-mates packed into Aylesbury Vale Crematorium last Wednesday for “A Thanksgiving and Celebration” for the life of ‘Rocking’ Ray Smith, much-loved lynch-pin of Aylesbury’s music scene for over 50 years.

'Rocking' Ray with his band at the Rabans Rocks Festival in the 1970s

'Rocking' Ray with his band at the Rabans Rocks Festival in the 1970s

The standing room only crowd was one of the biggest audiences Ray ever experienced in decades of leading bands such as Palace, Magus and Revolver in the Aylesbury area, every old friend there carrying their own story.

With a huge projection of Ray captured with Elvis Presley on a trip to Memphis with his friend Paul Corkery hanging over the altar, Father Doug Zimmerman pointed out he also hailed from the Big Easy as he welcomed guests from all phases of Ray’s life and spoke about the next one.

Edward Mogford, former landlord of Wendover’s legendary Wellhead Inn and Ray’s cricket team comrade, provided the moving tribute, barely able to finish by the end. After outlining his early life, Edward gave several examples of Ray’s passionate devotion to rock ‘n’ roll, including knocking on Paul McCartney’s front door and being invited in for tea with John Lennon, or camping out at Aston Clinton’s Bell Hotel while Keith Richards was staying there during his January 1977 drugs trial; “Ray ended up buying Mick and Keith a pint.”

After the congregation sang ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want’, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the “Period of Reflection” was sound-tracked by Elvis Presley’s ‘Take My Hand Precious Lord’ followed by The Lord’s Prayer and Ray’s Committal.

The crowds then made their way to the Victoria Club, the surviving bastion of old Aylesbury of which Ray was a member and had put up a special wall of photos and band memorabilia.

Ray will be honoured at Friars Aylesbury’s Dung Beatles show on Thursday, when his friends will be given a posthumous Friars Hero award. On October 19, Rocking Ray’s Memorial Gig/Jam takes place at the Queens Head, a former stronghold of

Ray’s band Revolver.

I’m honoured to have been asked to MC and local

musicians are invited to participate, in the great man’s spirit.

As I said before, Ray is already sadly missed, but he couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful send-off.