|Roy Young performs with The Beatles at the Star Club, Hamburg, Germany, 1962.|
We were saddened to hear about the passing of Roy Young, at the age of 81. Roy was a British rock and roll singer, pianist and keyboard player, well known for his boogie woogie piano style. He first recorded in the late 1950s before performing in Hamburg with the Beatles.
After a stint with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, he released several albums with his own band as well as recording with Chuck Berry and David Bowie, among others.
In 1958, the 21 year old Roy Young auditioned successfully for Jack Good’s TV show “Oh Boy!”, singing and playing piano in the style of Little Richard, and performed regularly on other British TV pop music shows including “Drumbeat”, where he was backed by the John Barry Seven, and “Boy Meets Girls”. Billed as Roy “Rock ’em” Young, he recorded his first single, “Just Keep It Up” / “Big Fat Mama” in 1959 for Fontana Records. He released several more singles on the Fontana and Ember labels over the next two years, but they were not commercial successes. Young performed at the 2i’s Coffee Bar in Soho, and toured the UK and Ireland with Cliff Richard and the Shadows, among others.
Almost a Beatle
In 1961, he began working at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg, arriving just as the Beatles were leaving. There he played with Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers, who briefly included Ringo Starr, and recorded with Sheridan. He then won a contract to play at the rival Star-Club, where he met the Beatles again, and began performing with them in the spring of 1962. According to Young, Brian Epstein offered him a place in the Beatles once they had returned to England and signed a record contract, but Young turned down the offer because he had a contract with the Star-Club.
Young returned to England in 1964 and joined Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers – also managed by Epstein – as their keyboard player and second vocalist, regularly duetting with Bennett on covers of Sam and Dave songs, including “I Take What I Want” and “Hold On, I’m Comin'”. The group toured with the Beatles in 1966, and Young featured on their hit version of the Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life”, produced by Paul McCartney. He continued with the Rebel Rousers until they split up in 1969.
After the sixties
In the seventies, he formed the Roy Young Band, who released two albums, The Roy Young Band (1971) and Mr. Funky (1972); band members included Dennis Elliott, later of Foreigner and Onnie McIntyre, later of the Average White Band. The band backed Chuck Berry on tour.
In 1971, under his own name, Young recorded the song “Baby, You’re Good For Me,” written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, for the Albert Finney film, Gumshoe.
In 1976, Young recorded with David Bowie for the Young Americans album, and the following year played on Bowie’s album Low.
He continued to perform with the Roy Young Band in Canada and the US,and also worked with, and managed, Long John Baldry in the 1970s. He toured the US in the 1980s with Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, and also performed at Star-Club reunion concerts with Tony Sheridan, Howie Casey, Johnny Gustafson and Jimi Magnole.
He released an album, Still Young, in 2006, featuring songs written by Dennis Morgan. In recent years, Roy guested the Casbah Club in 2012, and in 2013 he played at the Cavern Club. Roy passed away in a Oxfordshire nursing home, Friday 27 April.
Rest in peace.