Tuesday, July 1, 2008

John Free

John Llewellyn Free, bass guitarist for the group 'Blind Lemon Chicken', died peacefully in early June 2008 after a short illness. He was 55. John was diagnosed with a rare form of connective tissue cancer in mid-January and faced death bravely and with great dignity.

We regularly went to see Blind Lemon Chicken when we lived in Sydney. They were a three piece band, each member possessing great skill. They brought to the stage an enthusiastic and infectious enjoyment of playing together and a sure knowledge that they played well. They morphed seamlessly from one song into another and did this so smoothly without a word or nod of the head, that it caught one by surprise and delighted both young and old music lovers.

Blind Lemon Chicken began way back in 1991 featuring Damien Robison on guitar, John Free on bass guitar and Jim Crowley on drums. All three members sang, contributing three-part harmonies to many of their songs. The band worked its way around Sydney for over ten years, generating a loyal supporter base, especially in the inner city. In 2002 Jim Crowley died of liver failure. John and Damien took a break, thought about continuing as a duo, then decided to include Peter Jacob on drums. Now that John Free has died, Blind Lemon Chicken will pass away with him.

We knew John as a talented musician. But he had a day job and that was as a teacher librarian. John was joint winner of the Australian School Library Association (NSW) NSW Teacher Librarian of the Year 2008, presented at the State Library of NSW earlier this year. He threw himself into all aspects of school life - readers' theatre, school camps, staff concerts, sports' days to name a few. He was a remarkable short story writer for adolescents and took every opportunity to be involved in all things musical at the school.

We extend our heart felt sympathy to John's family and to the remaining members of the band.

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