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Passings: Gary Pickford-Hopkins, Sang With Rick Wakeman

Gary Pickford-Hopkins, who was part of the British music scene most of his life including stints with Wild Turkey and Rick Wakeman, died on Saturday after a long battle with cancer.

Pickford-Hopkins was one of the vocalists on two of Wakeman's most successful solo albums, Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable. Wakeman issued a statement on his website:
Thanks to all who have written to the website expressing their sadness at the passing of Gary Pickford-Hopkins. It’s been a rotten year for losing friends and Gary was one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet. We had so much fun both in the studio and on the road and he and Ashley made a great partnership in the mid-seventies.

I first saw Gary when he was singing for Wild Turkey and ear-marked him then to work alongside Ashley on Journey and he went on to sing on King Arthur as well.

From that time we have now lost David Measham (conductor) , David Hemmings (narrator) and now Gary. Also we have lost Martin Shields from the late seventies English Rock Ensemble.

I wish Gary all the peace that there is to offer him after his long battle with cancer and my heart goes out to his family and friends as indeed it does from all involved with the ERE.

His name will appear as a dedication alongside the two Davids when the official release of the full length studio version of Journey is released later this year.

Rick Wakeman
23th June 2013
At the age of 16, Pickford-Hopkins became a member of the local Neath group Smokestacks. When they broke up, he became lead vocalist of Eyes of Blue, a group that became popular throughout South Wales before breaking nationally by winning the 1966 Melody Make Battle of the Bands.

While Eyes of Blue never hit mainstream success, they did have a cult following. In 1971, Gary moved to Wild Turkey which was formed by Glenn Cornick, previously of Jethro Tull. The group released two full length LPs (Battle Hymn (1971) and Turkey (1972)) before Picford-Hopkins left the group to join Wakeman.

His pinnacle of commercial success came with Wakeman's live album Journey to the Center of the Earth on which he shared vocals with Ashley Holt. The album went to the top of the British charts and number 3 in the U.S.

Gary recorded a number of solo projects during the rest of his career along with returning for a reunion stint with Wild Turkey that produced the albums Stealer of Years (1996) and You and Me in the Jungle (2006) along with a live album.


Ian Stewart said…
Hey Gaz, rest in peace my friend and thank you for all your time as a musician and a friend. You and your voice will be missed but never forgotten.
Ian Stewart
Detroit Michigan.
Unknown said…
sorry to hear of the passing of my friend and neighbour Gary when we were young children in Abergarwed near Neath Wales.
Gary sang with the Vern Davies band a number of times before he became famous.
Rest in peace my friend

Pat Davies
Mike said…
Sorry to hear of the sad news regarding Garry
you will always be in my thoughts and prayers
Mike Davies