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Les Payne passes away

2 May 2017Fish · News

I was saddened to hear the news today that a dear old friend passed away suddenly yesterday. Les Payne produced Marillion’s first demo at Roxon studios in July 1981 and gave us our first experience in a recording studio. We went on to become friends and he was immensely proud of his involvement in the very early stages of the band. We kept in touch over the years and I played a couple of gigs with him at the Pegasus in the very late 80’s. My move to Scotland meant we rarely saw each other after that but every now and again I’d hear his eternally cheery voice on the phone. He was an outstanding individual with an overwhelmingly positive personality that always drew a smile from any stranger in his company. His commitment to his songwriting, studio work and performances were inspiring and despite so many hard knocks and disappointments he never lost sight of his goals and his optimism was incredible.Always willing to give advice and help to young bands and musicians he played a part in the rise of many talents. He never made the big time but leaves a legacy of worthy songs and a memory that will always be cherished.An honest and decent man in every respect he will be missed by many and especially in the Aylesbury and Bucks community of musicians where he was a legend. My heart goes out to his family and friends at this tragic loss. Les Payne RIP

The Roxon demo
My Mum handed me a box of really old cassette tapes I’d given her over the early band years including a couple of the original and now legendary Roxon Studio demos we recorded over the 18th and 19th July 1981 with Les Payne producing.

We’d met Les through his strong association with the Friars Club and were introduced to him by the promoter David Stopps.We saved up enough money from gigs to pay for the demo time ( I think it was about £400 but Les gave us a deal).

It was my first ever time in a “proper” recording studio and I was pretty excited and daunted at the same time. The line up was Steve Rothery guitar, Mick Pointer drums, Diz Minnitt on bass and Brian Jelliman, keyboards.

We were pretty pleased with the outcome and thought the world was ours. Listening back now my vocals were a trifle shabby and that high octave register very unnatural.The arrangements on the demos that were rejected by every major record company at the time were pretty much the same as on the ‘Script For A Jester’s Tear’ album and with ‘Garden Party’ reaching number 16 in the UK charts nearly a couple of years later I admit to having a chuckle sometimes.

I still have the rejection letter from EMI :slightly_smiling_face: “Rinky Dinky Doo” :slightly_smiling_face:

Les, thanks for all your help back then and I’ll always retain a happy memory from those days. RIP mate.