Man Guitarist Micky Jones Dies

August 16, 2010

Guitarist and singer Micky Jones, one of the founders of Welsh prog rock band Man, has died at age 63. Jones, who had been fighting a brain tumor, died at a care home in Swansea.

With Merthyr Tydfil-born Jones, the band had four Top 40 UK albums from the late 1960s and toured across Europe and America, where admirers included Frank Zappa.

Friend and former colleague Phil Little said Jones had a "command of melody" and was "the most humble guy." Mr. Little, who played with Jones in the 1980s with the London-based The Flying Pigs, said Frank Zappa once described Jones as "one of the 10 best guitarists in the world."

"I did hundreds of gigs with him and I never saw him have a cross word with anybody. He had maximum respect from all the musicians. He had great command of melody. He would improvise fantastically. He also have a very pure and soulful voice."

Jones' first band. the Bystanders, was a five-piece formed in the early 1960s with BBC Wales radio presenter Owen Money, who was calling himself Gerry Braden, on vocals.

Money said he was "devastated" at the loss of someone who was a family friend as well as an artistic collaborator.

In 1968, after Money had moved on, the Bystanders added Deke Leonard, Jones' guitar partner for some three decades, embraced the counterculture, and became Man.

He said: "Man were a live band. People would go and see them because they knew that the live performance was going to be much better than the record.

"Micky was a fantastic improvisational guitarist. Deke would create the outline and Micky would "fill in the bits." The thing that kept people coming back was the he could make the guitar talk."

Jones was an ever-present member of Man, who split in 1976 and re-formed in 1983, until a brain tumour caused his departure in 2002.

He returned briefly two years later but retired from touring and spent his last years in residential care. His son George was his immediate replacement, but he is now pursuing his own musical ideas away from Man.

He said: "I was so proud of him as a father and as a performer. To share a stage with him and be part of that legacy is one of the proudest moments. The women loved him so much, especially in the '60s. There we girls screaming and always three times as many screaming for Micky than anyone else. He was a good looking boy."

Music journalist Michael Heatley, who ran a Man fans newsletter for 20 years, said the band reached "the upper second division of British rock" but had been overlooked in the history of rock.

—Special thanks to the BBC

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