A Dundee musician is “devastated” by the news that Denny Laine, lead singer of the Moody Blues and guitarist with Sir Paul McCartney’s band Wings, has died at the age of 79.
Steve McDonald, who played in Laine’s backing band for eight years, said that while he had known about his health issues for a while, it still came as a “shock”.
“He was an amazing guy,” Steve told The Courier.
“He was very humble but very generous with his exceptional talent.
“All our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Elizabeth and all of Denny’s family at this very sad time.
“Grant (Roberts) and I will treasure our friendship with Denny.
“It was an absolute honour to play in his backing band.”
Dundee’s Kyle Falconer on list of musicians to play Denny Laine benefit gig
Steve, who leads McDonald’s Farm, the resident band at the world famous Cavern Club in Liverpool, said a benefit gig had been planned for Denny, in conjunction with Cavern City Tours, at the Cavern on February 18.
“Some great artistes have lined up to perform,” said Steve.
“These will include our very own Kyle Falconer, Brian Nash (Frankie goes to Hollywood),Tony Skeggs (the Overtures), Tony Coburn (Pure McCartney – Cavern Club Beatles) with other additions to be added, and our own band, McDonald’s Farm.”
How did Dundee’s Steve McDonald become backing band for Denny Laine?
Steve recently told The Courier how The Beatles “saved his life”.
He said that during a lifetime of being influenced by the Fab Four and meeting Paul McCartney several times, he was lucky to be at Paul’s late wife Linda McCartney’s birthday party at the old Angus Hotel when Wings played Dundee in 1975.
It was through those encounters that he met Denny Laine and became Laine’s backing band for eight years, doing music full-time.
“In 1988 we met Denny in Liverpool and agreed to record one of his songs ‘Eyes of a child’,” said Steve.
“In 1989 we brought Denny to Dundee.
“We rehearsed at the Marquee, played a gig at De Stihl’s nightclub, then went on to play a gig with Denny at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge.
“We moved to London where we were resident band in Lennon’s Rock n’ Roll restaurant, which was right next door to ‘Stringfellows’ in Covent Garden.
“It was owned by our good friend Peter Stockton and John Lennon’s first wife Cynthia.
“We played numerous gigs in the UK and abroad as Denny’s backing band.
“In 1992 we were top of the bill at the Liverpool Beatles Convention, when we performed with Denny Laine, Steve Holley and Laurence Juber.
“This was basically the first Wings reunion, all be it without two of the most important members Paul and Linda McCartney.”
Denny Laine tribute paid by former RAF Edzell serviceman who visited Dundee
Tribute was also paid to Denny Laine on Wednesday by a former serviceman at RAF Edzell.
Jerry Sipes said on Facebook: “During my time stationed with the US Navy at RAF Edzell, I was fairly close to the local music scene and had the opportunity to meet several local bands and celebrities.
“Through one of these connections I was able to be part of a local music showcase in Dundee at De Stihls where Denny Laine was headlining.
“After the show a few shipmates and I were invited to a small after party at another famous musician in his own right, Steve McDonald’s home.
“I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Denny, sat up drinking single malt scotch whisky, smoking cigarettes and along with others present hear stories from Denny about John Lennon, Paul McCartney and the ‘early’ days until the wee hours of the morning…a truly humbling and once in a lifetime experience.”
Paul McCartney tribute to Denny Laine
Denny’s wife Elizabeth Hines said he died after a long battle with lung disease.
Among other achievements, Laine sang on The Moody Blues’ multi-million selling Go Now and co-wrote the Wings hit Mull of Kintyre.
Sir Paul McCartney paid tribute on Instagram, calling the musician “an outstanding vocalist and guitar player”.
“Denny was a great talent with a fine sense of humour and was always ready to help other people,” he said.
“We had drifted apart but in recent years managed to re-establish our friendship and share memories of our times together.”
US musician Christopher Cross also posted a message, remembering Laine as a “dear friend… an icon and a sweet man.”
“He will be missed. Prayers for his wife Liz and their family,” he added.