Neville Chesters 1945-2023Posted 1st May 2023
The music world is mourning the loss of former road manager Neville Chesters, who passed away on April 27. He was 77 years old, writes Sammy Jones.
Yorkshire born, Neville worked for some of the industry’s biggest players in music, a career that began in 1963 with The Merseybeats, which is when he first made the acquaintance of Lemmy Kilmister, who would of course go on to be the frontman with Motorhead.
“I remember it well – we were playing at the Blackpool Palace Ballroom,” Neville told me during one anecdote laden conversation.
Lemmy told Neville about his band, The Rockin’ Vicars, and during backstage chats a firm friendship was forged.
“He was a little bit brazen even then, but nowhere near like he became,” Neville recalled.
During the sixties and seventies, Neville was a road manager for bands including The Who, and it was Neville who gave Lemmy his infamous job roadying for Jimi Hendrix.
“…he never ever did anything! He would pick up two guitars, carry them into the gig, and then he’d disappear.
“But Lemmy just slotted in. Although he didn’t have the job for long, there wasn’t an actual end to the relationship, other than him telling me that he was going to put his own band together.
“He always had a respect for me, and me for him. To me, Lemmy was a lovable character, and a loyal friend.”
Neville worked for bands including Cream and The Bee Gees, and spent time with The Beatles’ founded label, Apple Records.
Despite taking breaks from the industry, the live environment always lured him back and he went on to work with many other artists including Greg Lake, from Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
At the start of the ‘90’s he upped sticks and moved to New York, launching film company, The Loft.
In 2013, he moved back to these shores, settling in Stony Stratford, where became friends with local musician Neil Harrison.
“Neville had many sides to his love of music including supporting the grass roots DIY Punk scene,” he said, “He became great friends to local punk band Crash Induction and was involved with the aptly known Concrete Punx Gig Nights,” Neil said.
“Neville attended nearly all these events at The Blacksmiths Arms in Downs Barn. Neville would often introduce the bands on stage, and loved chatting to the band members and punters, sharing his amazing stories. He was very popular and much respected.
“A ‘Punk 4 Neville’ night is currently being planned in his memory.”
Musician Malcolm Bruce – son of Cream bassist Jack Bruce, said: “Such an amazing and unique person with an incredible life story. Neville was always so encouraging and positive and honest, I know he had an impact on a great many people and he will be sorely missed. Much love Neville, fly high and keep smiling over us.”
Stray frontman Del Bromham also paid tribute: “Trying to pin down the exact date when we first met is hard to remember,” Del said, “I know it was in Milton Keynes at The Craufurd Arms, possibly sometime mid to late 1980’s. I was hosting a musicians jam night. My friend Stuart Uren had been on tour with Dexys Midnight Runners and became friendly with the American session guitarist Jerod Minnis.
“Stuart brought him along to play a few songs. Jerod was playing his Fender guitar left handed and it was like having Hendrix in the room. “Unusually, Neville was there that evening and introduced himself, enquired who the guitarist was and could I introduce him? The more we talked I realised the reason he was interested was because this was the infamous Neville Chesters who was once the road manager for Jimi Hendrix.
“Over the years I got to know Neville well. He always talked affectionately about my choice of guitars – mainly the Gibson Firebird. I am going to miss him at my shows and sharing our stories and his bright pink dayglo trainers,” Del added, “They don’t make ‘em like Neville Chesters. Rest in peace old friend. You were a special man.”
New York based musician and Blues Hall of Fame inductee Tommy Maher met Neville more than a decade ago and the pair struck up a mutual appreciation: “Neville was one of my very closest and best friends. Probably the most caring and unselfish man I’ve ever met,” Tommy told Pulse Music, “I only wish he could have seen himself the way others saw him. He was an icon, a legend, and a major part of rock n roll history. Rest easy my brother. See you on the other side.”