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1985 to late 1980s; 2002 to 2007)
Howe is one of those rarities - a two-times Wurzels. He first joined
the band in the mid-1980s; I have been unable to find a more exact
date than that. He replaced Tony Baylis, long-time bass player who
had been part of the highly successful Banner-Bayliss-Budd line-up
which had topped the charts in the mid-1970s. Although he left not
long after (again, exact date unrecorded), he returned towards the
end of 2002 when he replaced Dave Wintour. He left the band for
the second time in 2007 for health reasons.
was born John Howe in Torquay, Devon, and brought up in the nearby
village of Hele. After leaving school, he started work as an apprentice
in a locksmith. He had several jobs, working at Littlewoods, and
for a while working at a company in Newton Abbot which specialised
in precision engineering for the medical industry - making joints
for artificial limbs. But it was music that was his first love,
and work was always a means to the end of playing in bands.
first band was a skiffle outfit at school. Short of a bass player
(as this skiffle, we are talking a tea chest with a broom handle
in it!), Jai was offer the chance to play and has never looked back.
His early bands started with skiffle, moving onto covers of the
popular music of the time - The Shadows, and later The Beatles.
Then came The Ventures, not the American surf band,
but still a local band of some renown - gigging around the clubs
and pubs of Torquay and the village halls of Devon.
was drummer John Morgan
who eventually offered Jai his first big break as the bass player
in the house band at John's nightclub The Riverside in Exeter (the
former King's Hall, St Thomas). The hours were long, and the pay
tight, but it was a job as a professional musician, and that suited
Jai! He continued to work with John at the influential Dolphin Nightclub
in Gloucester - at this venue could attract the top names on the
circuit including Adge Cutler & The Wurzels who regularly headlined
- and in cabaret in Blackpool. Jai then returned to the West Country
to team up with John's bother Les Morgan in his soft rock band Mavis.
After that he worked with keyboard player Terry
Pascoe (also later to become a Wurzel) back at The Riverside
in Exeter, and later the Rainbow Variety Club in Swansea, before
teaming back up with John Morgan in a Country and Western band in
the early 1980s.
was now playing with The Wurzels, and when Tony Baylis announced
his departure, John suggested that Jai take over. One successful
audition later, and Jai was a Wurzel. He lasted about three years
with the band before leaving, only to rejoin again in 2002. Interviewed
in 2004 for Mervyn Hancock's book Wurzels World, Jai (then
57) hoped that this was a job that would last him for the rest of
his life. Sadly that wasn't to be, and in 2007 he left the band
for a second time, due to ill health.
illness turned out to be inoperable brain cancer, and sadly on Thursday
the 5th of February 2008, John 'Jai' Howe died at his home in Swansea
surrounded by close friends and family aged 60.
Hall, St Thomas on Exeter
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