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James Dewar, 1942–2002

An epitaph to a Scottish legend

George Ross Watt (singer, guitar player with Big George and the Business and The James Dewar Band) wrote to BtP as follows: 'James Dewar, late of The Robin Trower Band, Stone the Crows and Lulu and the Lovers died today at Dykebar Hospital. This is a small tribute to the man who was both my teacher and my hero. I hope that you find it worthy of your interest.'

The man whom many have called "The Pavarotti of rock ‘n’ roll" died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday 16 May 2002 after a long illness.

Strangely, Jimmy’s career was not to begin with his vocal talents, but as guitar player with Lulu and the Lovers in the early 60s. From that point on, Jimmy’s career was to flourish beyond all his expectations.

Maggie Bell took him on board with the legendary Stone the Crows and the shy man’s voice was soon exposed on classics like The Touch of your Loving Hand. Another young singer had exploded on to the music scene, but the best was yet to come.

Living in London with his wife Martha and their young family, he was approached by Frankie Miller. The two Glasgow buddies were having a small refreshment when out of the blue Frankie told Jimmy that "there might be a job going" with some guitar player called Robin Trower, that the music industry insiders were raving about. "What kind of job?" asked Jimmy. Frankie laughed and said, "Oh, I don’t know. Maybe playing bass, maybe singing". Jimmy applied and got both jobs.

The Robin Trower Band became the hottest thing on the planet and introduced "Stadium Rock" to the USA. Frankie was right! The RTB were the first band to sell tickets by the hundreds of thousands. Gold and Platinum albums were thrown at them like frizbees.

Amongst James Dewar's biggest fans were Frankie Miller, Billy Connolly, Donny Hathaway, Rod Stewart, not forgetting Maggie Bell and Lulu herself.

The famous Scottish screenwriter, Peter McDougall, still talks of his first experience of meeting Jimmy. When having a drink with Frankie, Peter noticed that the man standing next to him was clothed in snakeskin trousers, cowboy boots and not much else. "Who’s that?" Peter asked. Frankie replied "That’s James Dewar". Peter howled, " Well, I want to be one of them!"

It says it all. Everyone from Metallica to the Stereophonics were influenced by the voice of the Scotsman. The man the music industry recognized as the voice from heaven has finally gone home. We will all miss you James.

"The little guy with the big voice"

Stumbledown Romancer


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