- 07 Jun 23
"What a guitarist he was," Captain Sensible of The Damned remarked. "...a lovely bloke and a huge inspiration for myself as a young wannabe muso when I'd plonk myself right in front of the stage at Groundhogs gigs. Brilliant!"
Tributes are being paid this morning to Tony McPhee, following news that the English guitarist, and founder of blues rock band The Groundhogs, has died aged 79.
His band confirmed the sad news on their Facebook page last night, stating that McPhee "died peacefully at home" on June 6, "from complications following a fall last year."
He is survived by his wife Joanna, sons Conan and Vincent, grandchildren Scarlett and Victor, and sister Olive.
Led by McPhee – who was often credited as 'Tony (T.S.) McPhee' – The Groundhogs were established in the '60s, and famously backed American blues acts John Lee Hooker and Champion Jack Dupree during their UK tours in the middle of that decade.
They went on to play as session musicians with Hooker for his 1966 album Seven Nights. McPhee also joined Dupree in the studio, resulting in the 1966 single, 'Get Your Head Happy'.
In the '70s, The Groundhogs went on to score three Top 10 albums in the UK, as they continued to expand their sound – with 1970's Thank Christ for the Bomb, 1971's Split, and 1972's Who Will Save The World? Their success led them to a 1971 UK tour supporting the Rolling Stones, at the request of Mick Jagger.
McPhee also enjoyed a notable solo career, releasing well-received albums like 1968's Me And The Devil, 1973's Two Sides of Tony (T.S.) McPhee, and 2002's Bleachin' The Blues.
He was a noted fan of Rory Gallagher – telling the Lancashire Telegraph in 2014 that his dream festival line-up would be the Irish guitarist, Cyril Davies All Stars, and John Lee Hooker, as "they were the best..." McPhee joined Gallagher on stage during the encore of a show at The Hummingbird in Birmingham in 1987:
See some of the tributes to McPhee below:
Sad to say the great Tony McPhee has just departed the stage of life.. what a guitarist he was, a lovely bloke and a huge inspiration for myself as a young wannabe muso when I'd plonk myself right in front of the stage at Groundhogs gigs. Brilliant! 🎸https://t.co/v3pj9YQ9RM
— Captain Sensible (@CaptainSensible) June 6, 2023
Heartache. The fantastic Tony McPhee has departed the stage. In 18 months in 1970-72 his band, The Groundhogs, made three perfect UK blues rock albums. Loud, tough, abrasive and that rarest of things, near-metal that swings. His later solo album is also brilliantly strange. pic.twitter.com/iXhCzVbOlr
— Danny Kelly (@dannykellywords) June 6, 2023
RIP Tony McPhee; leader of the great Groundhogs, and creator of this off-kilter wtf-was-that classic pic.twitter.com/Nm1C9vLRKb
— South Records (@southrecordshop) June 6, 2023
Farewell to a true giant of British blues (and beyond). Tony (TS) McPhee. There was no one else like him pic.twitter.com/h5wZZ97feD
— Stuart Penney (@StuartPenney1) June 6, 2023
- Live Review
- 12 Jun 23