Passings: Alan Henderson of Them (1944 - 2017)

by VVN Music

There are few details, but it has been learned that Alan Henderson, the founding bassist of the band Them, died early last week at the age of 72.

According to the Belfast Newsletter, former bandmate Billy Harrison told them of his passing. "I tried to speak to him three weeks ago when he was down in Mexico but the WiFi there was useless, so we texted and arranged that we’d catch up when he got home. We never got to actually talk and next thing, bang he’s gone."

Henderson and Harrison, along with Ronnie Milling, formed a band called the Gamblers in 1962 in East Belfast. Over time, they added Eric Wrixton on piano and, finally, Van Morrison on sax, harmonica and vocals.

Them made a name for itself as a live band, where Morrison thought they were their best. The band would feed off the crowd and mold their sets to the whim of the audience on any specific night.

Although Morrison doubted the live sound could be translated to studio recordings, Them signed a two-year contract with Decca. Their first single, Don't Start Crying Now, failed to chart but the second, Baby, Please Don't Go/Gloria, went to number 10 in the U.K. and their third, Here Comes the Night, became their biggest peaking at number 2.

The band, though, had gained a reputation of being uncooperative with the press, giving either sarcastic or monosyllabic responses. Luckily, their reputation as live performers won over fans and they released their first album, The Angry Young Them in mid-1965 followed by Them Again in early-1966.

While touring the U.S. in mid-1966, the band had disputes with management and themselves over finances and ended up breaking up with Morrison and Henderson returning to Ireland. Morrison went on to his solo career but Henderson decided to move forward with a new edition of Them, recording two albums, Them (1970) and Them in Reality (1971) but the band broke up in 1972.  They returned late in the decade and recorded a final album, Shut Your Mouth (1979).

Harrison told the Belfast Newsletter that Henderson eventually went into construction.

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