Brian Brummitt RIP

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Man out of Time
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Brian Brummitt RIP

Postby Man out of Time » Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:50 pm

Over on Facebook, on the Dexys group, Paul Speare posted this appreciation of Brian Brummitt who died in November last year:

“Brian (Maurice) Brummitt - Saxophonist
29 November 1952 – 29 November 2018

Today we said a final goodbye to Brian.

Brian Brummitt.jpg
Brian (Maurice) Brummitt - Saxophonist
Brian Brummitt.jpg (124.84 KiB) Viewed 1086 times

This picture, which was on the front page of Melody Maker, 22nd August 1981, shows Brian Brummitt front of stage in his prime as alto sax player with Dexys Midnight Runners. His unwavering dedication and passion as a musician leaps out of the picture and, I think, sums up the band's mission statement of the time. And Brian, until he left the band in 1982, was as committed as anyone.

It was as new members of this infamous music ensemble that Brian and I first became acquainted, both of us joining up as 1980 turned into 1981, in Birmingham, in winter. The band had previously scored a couple of top ten singles and a successful debut album but had quickly fallen upon hard times and was almost starting again from scratch, rehearsing in a semi-derelict warehouse nicknamed "The Fridge".

The first thing I remember about Brian was that I had difficulty understanding what he said; he was fresh from Newcastle and I'd never met a real Geordie before! But once accustomed to his dialect it became one of his endearing characteristics.

Brian had a difficult upbringing, which he rarely referred to, in Gateshead. His mother had died when he was two and the family lived in poverty. I remember when we were asked to bring in childhood pictures of ourselves for the front cover of "Show Me" - a single released in 1982 – that Brian told us he had no childhood pictures, and another band member had to bring one in that looked something like him.

He arrived in Birmingham alone in the world and immediately adopted the band members as family, myself in particular. We were, of course, the two sax players in the band but it went deeper than that. Brian always treated me with the utmost respect and kindness – like a brother – and it was heart-warming.

I think that a certain complexity of character came as a result of his difficult childhood – and possibly followed him throughout his life - but this had given him a great drive to succeed and I think he saw Dexys as his first real opportunity to change the course of his life. To that end he was willing to do anything to help the band out of its dire situation. I have enduring memories of the many times that he and I would have to collect hire vehicles, load and unload them, and we spent countless hours travelling in the cabs of a vans putting the world to rights. Brian was certainly a grafter, and one of those people who was great to have around to sort out practical problems, like packing the band's gear efficiently or dealing with the temperamental air brakes on a Bedford truck! I don't think I ever saw him refuse to do anything that was asked of him, even when required to learn the cello and play it at the Old Vic Theatre for three consecutive nights.

Most memorable was Brian's mischievous sense of humour which was a real tonic. Very early on he had christened me "Snaker Speare"; a moniker that still follows me to this day in certain circles. He had a great way with words and knew exactly how to use his accent to the best effect. Someone once casually asked him how he was, to which his reply was: "Aye, not bad, but I'd be even better with one of Snaker's tabs between ma lips!" (we were all smokers in those days). He would also, during a pause in rehearsal, tootle quietly in a corner on his alto sax; suddenly you would hear "The Laughing Policeman" or the riff from "Jackie Wilson Said" with a corny music-hall ending. His speciality, however, was launching into "club versions" of Dexys songs in the style of Tony Bennett; "Plan B" was particularly spectacular! Brian could set the room alight with his sense of humour and have us all in hysterics.

We spent a lot of time rehearsing in Newcastle where Brian was in his element. We had many adventures and managed to get ourselves banished from half the guest houses in Jesmond.

Eventually, after much hard work, many disappointments, heartache and penury, our efforts paid off and "Come On Eileen" became a worldwide hit, followed by "Jackie Wilson Said". Brian is there on both, and, on the epic "Until I Believe In My Soul", from the album "Too-Rye-Ay", he had his moment in the sun with a featured saxophone solo.

He was good friends with Brian Johnson – another fellow Geordie – of AC/DC fame, who still lived in Newcastle at the time. He would take me over to "Jonna's" house when we were in the area and we'd enjoy some great all-night parties with our generous host.

After Brian, and later I, left Dexys we continued to work with Jim Paterson as a brass section for hire. Together we recorded the album "The Iceberg Model" with John Watts, and toured the UK with the Q-Tips featuring Paul Young. The last gigs Brian and I played together were in December 1982; three consecutive nights at the Royal Albert Hall with Elvis Costello & The Attractions, followed immediately by a separate gig with the Q-Tips on the third night.

In 1984 Brian met his life partner, Gaby, and finally found a true soulmate.

Brian never entered into the world of social media and so has remained, in my opinion, a somewhat underrated member of Dexys Midnight Runners. But he made a very significant contribution to its eventual success. I'm glad he enjoyed the limelight for once in that picture.

Paul "Snaker" Speare

17 January 2019”


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