Ollie Halsall

Ollie Halsall died in Madrid on 29th May 1992 of a drug related heart attack at the age of 43. His friends laid his ashes to rest beneath the warm skies of Deya on June 9th.

His career through Timebox, Patto, Tempest and Boxer and his collaborations with many artists apart from Kevin Ayers such as John Otway, John Cale, Grimms and the Rutles will be familiar to many of you who read this and who embraced those artists and bands purely because of the sheer quality that Ollie's involvement brought to them.

He first played with Kevin Ayers when he wandered in on the Dr Dream sessions at the very beginning of 1974 and since that date there has not been a single release, to my knowledge, in which Ollie was not in some way involved. Only when commitments to Boxer in 1976 and 1977 prevented it did Ollie not form part of any Ayers major touring band. In an interview for Greater London Radio at the end of April 1992 when Kevin and Ollie did a short acoustic set, Kevin referred to them as 'the elderly brothers' - and brothers they had become, born of the same Spiritual Mother. They were each, as a friend put it, 'structures behind the edifice', both self-effacing men whose distinctive skills gelled as no other into a fluid and magical song.

All of us have dreamt of playing the guitar like Ollie - effortless flurries of notes that sighed and wept and sang and laughed from the speakers. He could play visions such that we could never see. He played our dreams for us.

Our common humanity can share sadness and anger and disbelief that Ollie's destiny should have been such. Yet he carried the flame of an immense talent and the whole Universe does not contain enough darkness to extinguish that flame.

Every note that Ollie played for us still rings in the air.... Close your eyes..... Listen....