THE great and the good turned up to bid farewell to one of Welsh music’s legends Deke Leonard on Thursday (Feb 16). The humanist funeral took place at Llanelli crematorium. Deke’s coffin was decorated with a simple black guitar with white flowers. The song Razorblade and Rattlesnake was played as the coffin was carried in. During the service Micky Jones’s son George Jones read from one of Deke’s books, which gave a light hearted view on Deke’s take on life.
Mike Ashbridge led the ceremony and he spoke about Deke’s life being one of family, love and laughter. He said: Deke enjoyed life and lived it to the full.
Many of Man’s former members from various line ups were at the funeral including Martin Ace, Alan ‘Tweke’ Lewis, Ray ‘Taff’ Williams John ‘Pugwash’ Weathers and Dire Straits drummer Terry Williams.
Martin Ace commented: He (Deke) doesn’t owe me any money. What can you say? He was a great musician and a great friend who has left a great musical legacy behind.
Twin Town director Kevin Allen was a friend of Dekes and a big fan of Man. He told Llanelli Online: It was an incredible time of rock music in this area when Man were around. I made my first pop video for Man. I also went to see them many times and Deke was phenomenal, a lovely guy. Man had a serious body of work and a lot of people regard them as one of the best bands in Wales of that era. I remember some great Man gigs like the one in Tonypandy when I woke up in a bus shelter surrounded by sheep.
One of Deke’s friends by the name of ‘Sleepy’ said: I knew Deke for 35 years. He was a genuine man and a great musician. He was a great songwriter and author and he had a great presence on stage too.
Another roadie ‘Plastic Sam’ who stayed with Deke throughout his career said that Radio 2 DJ Johnnie Walker had paid tribute to Deke recently. He said: Johnny heard about Deke last week and halfway through the show he mentioned Deke and played a Man track and excerpts from an earlier interview he did with Deke. Deke was a rock and roll star. He lived rock and roll but he was a very humble guy too.
Son of Man’s guitarist George Jones said: Deke was a total one off. The last of the old guard.
Dire Straits drummer and former member of Man Terry Williams said that losing Deke was a big loss. He said: It is a big loss but he had a great send off. Deke was a good man. I first started playing with Deke when I was seventeen and I last played with him two years ago. Deke got what he wanted in life. He was a really nice man.
Amen Corner’s Andy Fairweather Low spoke to Llanelli Online about his memories of Deke. He said: It was a great send off. I am getting fed up with this though meeting friends at funerals. Deke forgave me for being from Cardiff. I have to say I always had a fondness for the musicians from this area. They were much friendlier than the musicians from Cardiff. Deke was a one off. We can only be who we are and he was very funny, very clever and very bright man. I saw him about a year ago. He was a lovely warm man. I dont think he would have fitted into Amen Corner. When I think of what they were doing when I was singing Bend Me Shape Me. They were so far ahead and out there. I didn’t make those bold steps. Man were just fantastic. Deke had great charisma. His books are wonderful too and I hope BBC Wales will grab hold of those and give us a bit more to remember. He will always be in my memory. He has not gone.
Another friend of Deke’s Jeff Townes told us: I saw Deke a year ago in a record shop in Swansea where he was talking about his book. At the end of the talk he began playing his guitar and he was playing like a demon. Suddenly his hand flew off the fret and he reached out and caught his false teeth, which had shot out. He chuckled and asked if anyone had any superglue. There was no ego with Deke. I hope the books get a bit of attention now. They have been under the radar for so long. I would like to see him celebrated a bit more.
Harmonica player Steve Jones gave his memories of playing with Deke. He said: I crossed over back and forth from Eisteddfods to Rock and Roll. As musicians at that time we never really set out to do anything other than to play. Most of us were brought up on chapel music. Deke and a few former members of man and members of Son of Man did a lovely reunion gig in Swansea just before Christmas. They invited me up to guest with them. Deke had a connection with so many people. He was one of our wonderful legends. It is good that Man have been kept going by some of the kids.
Former Man musician Ray ‘Taff’ Williams spoke about his memories of Deke. He said: We used to do lots of gigs together. There was great friendship between all the local bands. I played with him in Iceberg. He played at my birthday party a month ago. If I could place Deke somewhere in the Welsh music industry it would be at the top. His writing, his guitar playing and riffs were superb. They were typically strong Welsh riffs. His writing was great and it had a lot of humour in it. Deke had it all.