Gentle Ronnie who gave so much joy through music

Ronnie Dearing (on left) with the Midnights, pictured around 1962.

Ronnie Dearing (on left) with the Midnights, pictured around 1962. - Credit: Archant

Many blues and rock bands which walked on stages in Norwich and Norfolk during the last half century or so had one thing in common – a tall, quiet guitarist by the name of Ronnie Dearing.

Ronnie Dearing with his Gibson ES330 in 1966

Ronnie Dearing with his Gibson ES330 in 1966 - Credit: Archant

There he was, doing what he loved best, making great music. Ronnie was a class act, a lovely man, and a musician who gave so much pleasure to others over the years. He also helped to fix their guitars.

This gentle man was one of the Norwich's best-loved musicians.

Family and friends will be gathering tomorrow to pay their respects at his last ever gig. Ronnie's funeral service will take place at Colney Woodland Burial Park. He was 68 and had been ill for some time.

Back in July he featured in this column in stories and pictures about one of his first bands, Eyes of Blond, formerly Circuit 5, and today two former members of the group share their feelings on Ronnie and the impact he made on their lives.

Colin Clegg went to Mousehold nursery and infant school with Ronnie and later teamed up with him in around 1964/5, at the height of the swinging 60s.

'He was a year older than me and I would look up to him not just before he was rather taller than me but because he had about him a quiet confidence and really knew his music,' said Colin.

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'Over the succeeding years we played in several bands beginning with Circuit Five, later Eyes of Blond, and ending with The London All Stars. We completed an eight-week tour as the backing band for the Drifters,' he added.

He and Ronnie kept in touch and then Colin went off to be a teacher in Norfolk for 25 years.

'Ronnie went through a difficult patch about that time yet emerged as one of Norwich's life-blood musicians playing with just about anybody of note on the blues scene for the following 30 years. Then, having decided to give up his day job (he'd built up an audio/visual repair service) he enjoyed the life he was born to.

'One of his last acts was Daniels and Dearing, a great blues duo. Ronnie became very ill but even after a stroke he battled back and made an appearance for the legendary Albert Cooper at his 80th birthday celebration gig.

'Ronnie was a gentle soul, considerate and wise. He gave immeasurable pleasure to countless music enthusiasts though fifty years of public appearances,' said Colin.

'As a bandsman he exercised authority in the part he played and was always an encouragement and support. He was vigorously independent and led a spiritual life bearing his suffering with immense courage and good humour. He will be remembered with great affection and respect – one of Norwich's best loved musicians.'

Another pal, Phil Wade, added: 'Ronnie was the first guitarist I ever played with. Circuit 5 (Eyes of Blond) were inspired when he joined and showed us what can be done – even with the inexpensive guitars we were using at the time. He was a very fine blues guitarist and our early sound was very much down to Ronnie's playing.

'He with us for two and a half years during the period of the most rapid change in our ambitions and competence,' said Phil.

'Ronnie never looked back and he made a real contribution to music wherever he went. The respect he earned from guitarists and other musicians will mean he will always be remembered. He was a real fighter and lived for 15 years after being given five years to live. An inspiration to the end,' he added.

The last word comes from Terry Wickham, organiser of the Evening News/Radio Norfolk Golden Years gigs which raised more than £125,000 for charity, who said: 'Ronnie played at a number of our concerts. He was a wonderful musician, a lovely man and a very skilled electrical technician. He will be greatly missed.'

Ronnie leaves a sister Pat, her husband Bob, and his partner of more than 20 years Ruth.

Ronnie's funeral takes places at The Woodland Hall, Colney Woodland Burial Park, Colney, tomorrow at 1.30pm. Donations can be made to Gordon Barber Donation Account for Rheumatology and Immune System Training and Research, NNUH, at 317 Aylsham Road, Norwich, NR3 2AB.