Barely stepping into the new decade, we have sad news of the demise of one of rock’n’roll’s few genuine guitar giants, MICK GREEN, whose personae of the ‘gentleman gangster’ will be immensely missed by us.

In the sixties, Mick found popularity with British rockers JOHNNY KIDD & THE PIRATES, one of a handful of British rock’n’roll groups to deliver a bona fide timeless masterpiece in his shape of ‘Shakin’ All Over’ .

When Mick joined the Pirates in 1962, he was flanked by bassist Johnny Spence & drummer Frank Farley, and with Johnny Kidd’s encouragement, the trio began releasing records under their group name THE PIRATES, who were heralded by NME’s Roy Carr as “Britain’s first bona fide underground band”.

After a couple of years with Kidd, Mick left to work as a “guitar-slinger-for-hire” for many acts ranging from Billy J Kramer and Cliff Bennett to a long-term residency in Engelbert Humperdinck’s band, whilst it wasn’t long before Spence & Farley hung up the Pirates mantle, leaving Kidd to hire a new band shortly before his death in a tragic car crash.

Mick’s guitar style captivated not only audiences but his peers too. Employing his own wizardry , he could somehow manage to play twin guitar parts with no effects trickery, just simply a rhythmical mastery that to this day eludes most students of his guitar-style.

Erstwhile NME head honcho Roy Carr best described Green’s raison d’etre as “..the very best aspects of (Elvis’s guitarist) Scotty Moore’s fingerpickin’ Sun sound, a basic urban R&B back-beat and a few choice Diddley rhythms into a highly personalised dry, tense, barbed rhythm chop, … played with such aggresive skill…”

As the dawn of punk loomed over the horizon, the bubbling pub / R&B scene had thrown up bands like Eddie & the Hot Rods and Dr Feelgoods, the latter of which featured guitarist Wilco Johnson who made no bones about his wholesale mimicry of Mick’s unique guitar style, with Mick contributing material for the Feelgood’s Number 1 album ‘Stupidity’.

Mick’s current group SHANGHAI (which featured Cliff Bennett on vocals but also Mr Thunderclap Newman John ‘Speedy’ Keen on bass) were overshadowed by the new bands, and whilst punk gave rock’s pageantry a sharp beating, a proposed one-off PIRATES reunion gig at London’s Dingwalls was organised, in part to celebrate the 10 th Anniversary of Kidd’s death.

When NME’s Roy Carr waxed lyrical about the band’s explosive performance, focussing particularly on Mick, it cemented a record deal and a live legacy that saw The Pirates gigging on the punk circuit, by virtue of the fact that the sheer ferocity and fury of their no-nonsense three chord shows blasted many punk bands into oblivion.

Releasing two critically acclaimed albums on Warners, and a third on our own Cube Records label, The Pirates consolidated their cult status, but mass appeal eluded them. Their blistering re-worked version of ‘Shakin’ All Over’ threatened to tilt the balance towards stardom, but the album ‘Out of Our Skulls’ evaded the album Top 50 by a whisker.

After punk morphed into new wave, The Pirates stage favourite ‘Please Don’t Touch’ was covered by the combined forces of Motorhead & Girlschool (and produced by the Pirates producer Vic Maile) who made the track a Top 5 hit in 1981 just as Adam Ant nicked The Pirates stage clobber for his 15 minutes Prince Charmingness fame.

For the past two decades, Mick enjoyed his “guitar-slinger-for-hire” mantle, playingd and touring with the likes of Van Morrsion and Sir Paul McCartney, whilst in Japan the most popular new rock’n;roll band in the country — THEE MICHELLE GUN ELEPHANT — heralded Mick Green as their hero of choice. They took their adoration a stage further by inviting Mick to Japan to record an instrumental single with them ‘Kwacker’, which resulted in The Pirates back catalogue selling faster than sushi to teenagers who idolised TMGE and their hero, Mick Green. The band even based their own band logo on The Pirates ‘skull & two guitars’ motif.

But it was during a tour of New Zealand in 2004 whilst playing in Bryan Ferry’s band that Mick suffered a massive heart attack which required quadruple bypass surgery.

By 2006 Mick was back recording and playing with The Pirates but his health concerns prevented them travelling beyond these shores.

Mick never lost his passion for music and was a regular at clubs and veniues checking out new bands. Whenever Mick was around his larger than life prescence always lifted those around him, and his memory will be treasured by us.


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