Geoff Mann 1956-1993

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Thursday 1st April 1993

Rock musician and vicar Geoff Mann dies in Rochdale.

THE MUSIC world, both secular and Christian, was shocked by the death on 5th February 1993 of singer, guitarist, painter and vicar Geoff Mann. Geoff was admitted to hospital in Rochdale towards the end of 1992 where it was at first thought the singer had Crohns disease. But cancer of the colon was eventually diagnosed. Geoff had only just become Vicar of St Luke's Church in Rochdale, after a curacy in Bolton, when he was rushed into hospital. He died peacefully at his home.

Born in Salford, Geoff cut his musical teeth when in 1974, while at Reading University he joined an instrumental group called Twelfth Night and persuaded them they needed a vocalist as well as a guitarist. By 1979 the band, heavily influenced by 60s/70s progressive rock, were earning a large live following and the affectionate nickname "Punk Floyd". Twelfth Night recorded three albums: 'Smiling At Grief (1981), 'Fact And Fiction' (1982) and 'Live And Let Live' (1984), but despite extremely popular concerts and overtures from major record labels Twelfth Night never made it to the secular first division.

After the band had played the Reading Rock Festival Geoff left Twelfth Night, returning to Salford. Having become a Christian prior to joining Twelfth Night his faith was making an ever deepening impression on the singer and his first solo album (on Food For Thought, a subsidiary of Music For Nations) 'I May Sing Grace' showed both a zealous Christian commitment and Geoffs love for wacky puns. His next album 'Psalm Enchanted Evening' was on his own label, Wobbly Records, named after the extraordinary effects-laden guitar sound he had made uniquely his own.

An experience of the Holy Spirit led Geoff to hear a call to train for the Anglican ministry and in 1986 he entered theological college. But his musical activities continued. He formed a rock-gospel band, The Bond who recorded three albums and played regularly at venues like the Marquee.

In 1988 Geoff made the first of two largely instrumental duo albums with guitarist Marc Catley for Plankton Records. After the demise of The Bond and Geoff's ordination as a deacon the singer/guitarist found himself with gigs to fill and "A Geoff Mann Band" were assembled. In 1990 the group, consisting of John Maycraft, Paul Keeble, Gary Mitchell and Geoff, recorded what was to be a highly acclaimed album 'Loud Symbols', continuing his long association with Music For Nations/Food For Thought. For their next album Geoff's love of silly names re-asserted itself and 'Ministry Of The Interior' (1991) was released under the moniker Eh! Geoff Mann Band. The Band played gigs regularly both in the 'secular' mainstream and Christian festivals such as Green-belt and Cross Rhythms. Geoff's last release before his death was 'Casino', an ambitious rock-concept album with musicians from Pendragon, Threshold, Shadowland and Twelfth Night, using the misadventures of a professional gambler to bring out spiritual insights.

Said Paul Keeble, close friend and member of Eh! Geoff Mann Band, "Geoff was a great musician and a great bloke. We all haven't got used to him not being around. It's a huge loss to the world of music, to the Church and to his family." Geoff leaves a widow, Jane, and three children, Thomas, nine, James, seven and Bethany, two.
Tony Cummings CR

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