Singer, songwriter and musician Mike Bowden who settled in the East Neuk after playing major arts and entertainment roles across the UK has died aged 73.
In the 1980s, he became a member of the Roach Twins band after they had played at his pub, The King’s Arms in Salford.
Early in his career he had shared a bill with Paul Simon, was a friend of punk poet John Cooper Clarke, and had seen Bob Dylan branded a Judas at his infamous 1966 gig in Manchester.
Mike had lived in the East Neuk for a decade after moving there to be with partner Mary Johnstone.
During his time in Fife he formed the band, Mike Bowden and the A917, named after the road through the Kingdom.
Mike was also a gifted writer who had worked in television and travelled widely as a theatre stage manager.
“He was a great writer and a man of social conscience,” said Mary. “He was an all-round creative person and a gem of humanity.”
Mike was born in Wigan in May 1950, passed his 11-Plus exams and attended Urmston Grammar School in Greater Manchester.
During his school years he developed a love of literature, became a follower of blues singer and guitarist Howlin Wolf, and began to write songs.
His working career was varied but always underpinned by his involvement in music and a love of the written word.
Mike had a spell as a civil servant and taxman and was active in many community projects. He had found his social voice at the kitchen table at home where his father was an industrial relations manager.
Mike went on to work at the Granada studios in Manchester where he fitted the letter boxes to the houses in Coronation Street and operated the scoreboard on University Challenge. He was also a union representative at the company.
After his spell in television, Mike travelled as a stage manager with theatre companies while continuing his involvement in music.
He later ran the King’s Arms pub in Salford, well known as a music venue and where the rock-blues band the Roach Twins started out.
Mike was to join the band in the late 1980s as vocalist and wordsmith. He left the band a few years later but rejoined a slightly changed line up at the turn of the century to play on the critically acclaimed album, Got A New Job.
His compositions were much sought after and he wrote for Anglo-Brazilian music star, Nuno Mindelis, who paid tribute to Mike from the stage on the night he died.
Over many years Mike had organised blues festivals across the UK and, in 2019 was given a standing ovation at the Carlisle Blues Festival, not long after undergoing a bowel cancer operation.
It was at a gig at Maryport Labour Club in Cumbria that he met Mary. She was captivated by his lyrics and the two began to correspond by email before they decided to set up home in Fife.
He was highly active on the music scene in the East Neuk as well as playing gigs at the Green Hotel, Kinross, venues in Edinburgh and undertaking UK tours.
Mary said: “Despite ill health, his creative energies never dwindled and his opened for Nazareth on its 2017 tour with his band Blue Swamp and the result was the album Blue Swamp Live At The Grand.
“Mike was a man steeped in words, very literate and once ran a bookshop in Chester.
“He loved his years living in Fife, loved Scotland and Pittenweem in particular.”
You can read the formal announcement here.