Gary Thain

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Full Name:  Gary Thain
Born:  May 15th, 1948
Died:  December 8th, 1975
Hometown:  Christchurch
Musical Background:  Singing Contests at age 13
Instruments Played:  Bass Guitar
Career Began:  1965 with The Strangers
Groups:  Strangers, Secrets, New Nadir, Keef Hartley Band, Uriah Heep
Tours:  Various especially with Uriah Heep
Residencies:  Plainsman

  Award presented 2009

Gary Thain was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on May 15, 1948.  He had 2 older brothers, Colin and Arthur.  An old school friend describes Gary's personality as being quiet, maybe broody even, but also as just your average teenager, with a passion for music.  Gary went to a catholic school called Xavier College in Christchurch.  He started performing around age 13.  Gary also won a singing contest in his High School with the song "Where Have all the Flowers Gone".  The official start to his career was with the New Zealand group "The Strangers".  Besides his brother Arthur (vocals and lead guitar), the other members were Graeme Ching (Rhythm Guitar) and Dave Beattie (Drums).  Gary wrote his first (released) song "I'll Never be Blue" with The Strangers in 1965 at age 16.  "The Strangers" released 3 Singles.  After "The Strangers" split up, at age 17 Gary moved to Australia.  Gary became part of "The Secrets", but they only released one Single in 1966, with "You're Wrong" on the B-Side, which was co-written by Gary.  The other band members were Derek Wright on Lead Guitar and Vocals, Paul Muggleston on Rhythm Guitar and Vocals, Wayne Allen on Drums.  After their one Single, "The Secrets" split up.  It was still 1966 when Gary and Paul joined up with Peter Dawkins and Dave Chapman, taking the name "Me and The Others" to the UK, touring England, Scotland, Wales and Germany.  In 1967 after "Me and The Others" ceased to exist, Gary became part of his first professional Band called "New Nadir".  They were especially popular in Switzerland, where they played in a lot of clubs for about half a year.  It was a trio that played Jazz influenced music.  The other members were Ed Carter on guitar and a drummer named Mike Kowalski.  Besides playing their own music, they also worked as a backing band for an all-female group called "The Toys".  New Nadir recorded an album for the "Witchseason" label, but it was never released.  In 1968 New Nadir dissolved and Mike and Ed have since then played in many bands together, and even were part of the Beach Boys backing band.  Gary of course joined the Keef Hartley Band.  Not only did Gary play on 6 of their albums, but he got to be part of Woodstock in 1969 with the Keef Hartley Band.  They played on the second day (before Santana).  However, there is no Video footage available.


Another Festival worth mentioning (even though much smaller scale) was the Bath Blues Festival held on June 28, 1969.  The KHB played along with the Likes of Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac that day in front of an audience of about 40,000.  Not only did Gary co-write a lot of material for the KHB, he also sang lead vocals to one of his compositions: "You Say You're Together Now".  That song can be found on the "72nd Brave" LP released in 1972.  Early in that year, Gary received a phone call from Ken Hensley and joined Uriah Heep as their 3rd bass player (replacing Mark Clarke) - the rest is, as they say, history.  Up until then Gary had only played Jazz and Blues material, and now found himself in a totally different genre.  However, his playing style stayed unique - using no plectrum and all his fingers.  Gary's first gig with Uriah Heep was on February 1, 1972 at the Whiskey A Go-Go in Los Angeles, California.  However, the earliest known Heep recording with Gary in the lineup (Bootleg) is either from Feb 27, 1972 (Columbia Coliseum, South Carolina, USA) or a Youngstown, Ohio, (USA) appearance.  The latter was a support performance (Bootleg) for the Band "Cactus" sometime in February of 1972.  The first album that Gary recorded with Uriah Heep was "Demons and Wizards" (released May 1972), only 4 months after he joined Heep.  "The Magician's Birthday" followed later that same year, and by that time Gary co-wrote some of the songs (Spider Woman and Sweet Lorraine).  The remastered edition (released 2003) also includes "Crystal Ball" and "Gary's Song", which he wrote during that time.  (Gary's Song being an alternate version of Crystal Ball).  Unfortunately, 1974 saw the last recording contributions of Gary on "Wonderworld" which was recorded in Munich, Germany.  Gary received an electrical shock during the song "July Morning", while on stage.  Gary's health never fully recovered and in January of 1975 he had to leave the band.  The very last known recording with Gary on Bass is dated November 25, 1974 and took place in Brisbane, Australia.  There are some very interesting comments about that Bootleg on the official David Byron website, and to quote: "This is one of the best audience recordings of the band ever to surface.  Not due to the sound quality, but the content itself.  The band was very strong on this date, the crowd really reacted to the show, and it provided some rare pieces of the puzzle we were looking for.  A good bit of improve is laid into this one, lots of talking between tracks and long renditions of certain tracks that didn't appear much on other shows .... only three tour dates are listed after this before he (Gary), left the band in late January 75.  So this show marks the end of an era of sorts, the classic lineup is done.  The rebuilding process begins but it never regains the same intensity or presence that was created during the past three years.  It's a sad but true fact that even the most dedicated of Heepster must accept.  All in all, Gary Thain participated in over 140 live performances all over the world with Uriah Heep in just 3 years.  After continued struggles with health and drug problems, Gary died December 8, 1975, in his flat at Norwood Green at the young age of 27.