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Pretty Things frontman Phil May dies in Norfolk after surgery complications

PUBLISHED: 18:59 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:08 16 May 2020

The group Pretty Things from the 60s with lead singer Phil May, left, and guitarist Dick Taylor, centre.

 Photo: Submitted

The group Pretty Things from the 60s with lead singer Phil May, left, and guitarist Dick Taylor, centre. Photo: Submitted

The frontman of cult rockband The Pretty Things has died in a Norfolk hospital after suffering complications from emergency hip surgery.

Photo of the 60s band Lead singer Phil May singing at his daughter's wedding in 2006. Photo: Matthew UsherPhoto of the 60s band Lead singer Phil May singing at his daughter's wedding in 2006. Photo: Matthew Usher

Phil May died on Friday morning at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn after falling from his bike earlier this week.

A representative for the band said the 75-year-old died at 7.05am.

The singer and lyricist had been in poor health for some time.

Mr May is understood to have been in lockdown with his family in Norfolk at the time of the accident.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Photo: ArchantThe Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Photo: Archant

MORE: Stars of 60s play at village wedding

The musician was born on November 9, 1944, in Dartford in Kent and formed the band in 1963 with guitarist Dick Taylor, a former bass player for the Rolling Stones.

The band have performed in Norfolk, taking to the stage in 2006 at the wedding reception of Mr May’s daughter Sorrel.

The bride and groom were married at St Mary’s Church, Beachamwell, near Swaffham before holding their reception at a barn at nearby Oxborough.

Speaking at the time, Mr May said he was terrified to be performing, having provided a musical interlude while his daughter and son-in-law signed the register.

Sorrel May and her father Phil May, lead singer with the Pretty Things, arrive at the church at Beachamwell for Sorrel's wedding in 2006. Photo: Denise BradleySorrel May and her father Phil May, lead singer with the Pretty Things, arrive at the church at Beachamwell for Sorrel's wedding in 2006. Photo: Denise Bradley

Mr May said: ““She actually asked if the band would play - I never even thought of it.”

Over the years, he remained at the helm throughout a changing line-up and was seen performing up until 2018, when the band played a farewell concert.

At the wedding, he played alongside Mr Taylor on lead guitar, Jon Povey on piano, bass player Wally Waller, drummer Skip Allen and guitarist Frank Holland.

In 2006, Mr May said: “People have come and gone.

Pretty Things lead singer, Phil May, left, and guitarist Dick Taylor, at the church at Beachamwell for Phil's daughter Sorrel's wedding. Photo: Denise BradleyPretty Things lead singer, Phil May, left, and guitarist Dick Taylor, at the church at Beachamwell for Phil's daughter Sorrel's wedding. Photo: Denise Bradley

The line-up we have at the moment is the line-up from 1966, plus one other member, so it’s the same people who made a lot of the albums.

“Dick and I formed the band at art school but he had a 10-year sabbatical. We had done about five or six years of the screaming and being pulled off the stage and the madness and I think by then Dick felt he wanted a break from it. It was exciting when you were 18 or 19.”

At their last show, billed as The Final Bow, the group were joined on-stage by long-standing friends David Gilmour and Sir Van Morrison.

Acts including David Bowie, Aerosmith, Ramones, Bob Dylan, Sex Pistols, White Stripes, Kasabian, and The Lightning Seeds have cited the group’s influence.

Photo of the 60s band the Pretty Things frontman Phil May playing at the wedding of Sorrel May and Mike Bradley, inside Caldecote Farm in Oxborough. Photo: Denise BradleyPhoto of the 60s band the Pretty Things frontman Phil May playing at the wedding of Sorrel May and Mike Bradley, inside Caldecote Farm in Oxborough. Photo: Denise Bradley

The Pretty Things have a new album due for release this year.

The 75-year-old is survived by his son Paris, daughter Sorrel May and partner Colin Graham.


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