Gifted guitarist helmed the British band through its hitmaking period and beyond.
By Rev. Keith Gordon/Blues.About.com
We’re saddened to report the death of British blues-rock guitarist Peter Haycock, best known for his work with the Climax Blues Band, a popular 1970s era outfit that is remembered for their 1976 hit “Couldn’t Get It Right” (written by Haycock). Passing away on October 30, 2013 of an apparent heart attack, Haycock was 62 years old.
Haycock formed what was then known as the Climax Chicago Blues Band in 1967 with singer Colin Cooper, right at the height of the British blues boom. The band released its self-titled debut album in 1969 – reportedly recorded in two days, it featured a mix of original and traditional (Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Boy Williamson) blues songs. In 1970, the band dropped the “Chicago” from its name so as not to be confused with the American band, and recorded a number of well-received albums as the Climax Blues Band during the early 1970s.
In 1976, with an amazing nine albums under their belt (in a mere seven years), the band released Gold Plated, which would become their breakthrough album, scoring Top 30 status on the strength of “Couldn’t Get It Right,” the song hitting #3 in the U.S. and #10 in the U.K. By this time, the band’s sound was more rock than blues, with a few jazzy flourishes thrown in for good measure, but it was Haycock’s lead guitar skills that drove the band’s fortunes. They continued to release albums at a prolific pace, but Haycock left the band in 1985 to pursue his own musical vision, and Climax Blues Band broke up a couple years later.
Haycock soon formed Peter Haycock’s Climax, the band touring extensively throughout Europe, the guitarist later recording a pair of instrumental solo albums for I.R.S. Records. Moving to Germany, Haycock launched a new career writing movie scores, collaborating with composer Hans Zimmer on films like Thelma & Louise before striking out on his own. A benefit project for children with cancer led to Haycock’s association with fellow guitarist Robin George, the two recording a charity single together as the LovePower Band. After a lengthy hiatus from the stage, Haycock returned back to his roots, forming Pete Haycock’s True Blues in 2008, touring and recording a single album.
Haycock returned to his collaboration with George earlier this year, the two men recording as Pete Haycock’s Climax Blues Band featuring Robin George, all but completing their debut album before Haycock’s death. George released this statement about his musical partner: “We had just finished our new album, and were looking forward to touring together with our superb band who have been working with us for the last 5 years, firstly on The ‘LovePower and Peace’ sharing project, closely followed by ‘Broke Heart Blues’ which Pete envisaged as the new true Climax Blues Band recordings…Pete was ready to reclaim his legacy with this fantastic work.” Continuing, George states, “this album will be dedicated to my co-writer and producer Pete Haycock, and hopefully will help his name live on. If he wasn’t the best Blues guitar player in the world, he was definitely in the top one!”
Original CBB vocalist Colin Cooper had re-formed the Climax Blues Band before his death in 2008, and today the band tours without a founding member among its ranks. The band released this statement on its website about Haycock’s death: “Climax Blues Band are saddened by the news of the death of Peter Haycock on October 30th 2013 in Germany. Peter was a founder member of the band in 1967 and performed with the band through to 1985 and was one of the finest exponents of slide guitar of his time, and a great singer . . . We are all shocked and sad and would like to pass on our best wishes and condolences to Peter’s family and friends.”
Photo courtesy petehaycock.com; this obituary originally appeared in Gordon’s Blues column at About.com