Thursday, 20 November 2014

REWIND: Northern Uproar - 'A Girl I Once Knew'

Today's 'Rewind' is dedicated to the memory of Northern Uproar guitarist Jeff Fletcher, whose life was cut tragically short a few days ago. A superb guitarist with a real instinct for putting together melodies, Jeff was one of the founding members of the band, and added a true rock n roll edge to the music. He will live on through his riffs and through the memories that his fellow bandmates and fans of the group will cherish for many years to come.

Chris Gorman from the band has posted the following statement on their Facebook page:

"I first met Jeff well before i was ten years old as i lived on the same street as him, he was the guy you went too if you were getting any trouble, he would see anyone off for his mates for many years onwards, he was two years older than me .. the phrase 'i'll get Jeff on you" carried a lot of weight!

My mate Phil and i and i really connected with Jeff for the first time when we bought guitars age 12/13, he spoke to us on the school bus one morning when he heard of this,an hourly rate of £3 was quickly agreed and we both started to go round to his loft for lessons and fag smoking sessions. Jeff was always a canny business man.

Jeff really was a musical prodigy.He taught himself Guitar in 6 months .He could play every note of Guns'n'Roses 'Appetite for destruction' (his favourite album) along with the CD and it was so note perfect you couldn't tell what was Jeff and what was the record, he also quickly memorized tracks by Steve Vai and Joe Satriani as if it were child's play . We would all go round and he would rip it up with a cig in his mouth while we all sat open mouthed and amazed.

Anyway, he quickly joined Leon, Pk and Keith in Northern Uproar (then called the paperboys.) When they went round to audition him (he was in within 20 seconds) they found all the recording equipment that had been disappearing from the school musical department for the last couple of months. So now they had an ace guitarist and a home studio.

Jeff recorded my bands first demo on that gear for £7.50 and 3 Kit Kats.

They soon started playing in town, we all went to every gig, all of us (including the band of course) were way under age. They got good fast, a buzz developed around them and the rest is history.

After a bidding war involving Tony Wilson's Factory and a load of other labels, Uproar signed with Heavenly records .A year out of school they were on Top of the Pops. Easy.

After the first album, with a string of summer festivals lined up, Jeff broke his arm in a Go-Cart accident in Blackpool.They needed a guitarist... A few names came up, a few people were tried. Then Jeff asked me 'Do you think you could do it?' in the spirit of the teen bravado the band were known for i said 'Of course i can'.

Jeff didn't have to do that, i was 15. They could have paid any session guy to learn the parts in a few days off the record. Instead , for two months and with his arm in plaster Jeff had me come round to his loft and he taught me every part, not just the notes, but EXACTLY how he wanted them played, it was hard work and i learnt A LOT.A life as a musician grew out of that generous act, i'll never forget that.

The band also let our band rehearse in their studio, use their equipment, everything .No big deal.

Years later i got to play side by side with Jeff in the band in many gigs and on albums too.

Leon and Jeff were like brothers, exactly like brothers.Leon is really hurting, they had such a loyalty to each other and a telepathic, no nonsense way of writing that i got to be part of in the last few years. Nothing was precious and it didn't matter whose idea it was, it came straight from the heart and the balls, often bypassing the head entirely .Then at the end of rehearsals a Northern Uproar song would be there and i would have no idea how we did it. 

As you all know we were/are in the middle of recording an album. Jeff had decided to take a back seat on this one, (the 3rd 'Stand and Fight' album was very much HIS album, Jeff liked riffs, and he knew Leon has had a build up of things that didn't fit on 'All that was has gone) but was very concerned with how it was going and we had his blessing, which was important as i consider it his band, but Jeff was a modest and unassuming guy.
We are all friends first and foremost, we all spoke about the album with Jeff just last Thursday. He wanted to make sure he got his name in the credits along with all the other thankyou's , he said it would make him proud. As if that ever wasn't going to happen, but as i say he was a modest guy, with a big heart. We will finish the record and are trust trying to stay busy and think of the literally endless belly laugh inducing moments he gave us.

Of course the album will be dedicated to Jeff, our brother.

We are thinking of doing some kind of night in memory of him and will let you all know .Also i think we'll have a couple of extra tracks on the album, ones Jeff was really proud of and wanted to add to 'All that was has gone' as bonus tracks.

Thanks for everyone's comments and messages and phone calls, it has really helped.

Our hearts go out to all of Jeff's friends and of course his family.

These are just my own personal thoughts and memories, look after each other everyone.


Northern Uproar are currently recording their fifth album, due for release next year. A biography of the band can be found HERE. In the meantime, here's a track from my favorite NU album, 1998's magnificent 'Yesterday Tomorrow Today'. Rest in peace Jeff and thank for the musical magic you've left behind.

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