Tragic Ben's talent to be showcased in book and CD

Laura DevlinA talented young bass player and aspiring writer has been celebrated by family, friends and fellow musicians with a posthumous book and a tribute CD, being launched on May 15 at Norwich Arts Centre. Ben Shepherd died unexpectedly two years ago, aged just 29.Laura Devlin

A talented young bass player and aspiring writer has been celebrated by family, friends and fellow musicians with a posthumous book and a tribute CD.

Ben Shepherd played bass with an up-and-coming Norwich trio and was branching out with his own solo work when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack two years ago, aged just 29.

Bands from the city's vibrant music scene and further afield were rocked by the loss of a popular and passionate artist and were eager to pay tribute to their friend.

And after his sister, Ellen, discovered some of Ben's writing on his computer, they decided to craft songs around his lyrics to ensure his legacy lives on.

Many of the artists who feature on the CD, Songs in the Key of Ben, will perform their interpretations live for the first time on May 15, the second anniversary of his death, at Norwich Arts Centre.

The CD launch coincides with the publication of a collection of his lyrics, poetry and prose, entitled …sometimes I pretend to be a writer, which will be sold together.

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The book cover features a close-up scan of one of Ben's well-known stripy jumpers.

'After speaking to some of Ben's friends everyone kept saying that his writing was really good and that we should get it out there,' said Ellen, 28. 'It is amazing, and I'm really looking forward to hearing all the bands on May 15.'

Ben played bass in Lalia, which got to the final of the prestigious EDP Next Big Thing competition in 2005, and also launched his own solo venture, We Are The Dots, which features on the CD.

His former band mates, Angela and Rob, pay tribute along with Bearsuit, Andrew from Magoo, Cruiser Chimps, Alto45, Master Solo and many more.

Charlene Katuwawala, a member of Bearsuit and Tell Me How, described Ben as one of her best friends.

'He has left a massive gap. There was not really anyone like him, he was a great musician with a great sense of humour and quite acerbic - which you can see in his book,' she said. 'I can just imagine that he would not have had the confidence to bring out a book like this. It was in his character to be painfully modest. He wasn't really aware of his talent.'

The book includes a foreword by George Szirtes, lecturer at Norwich University College of the Arts, where Ben studied for a degree in creative writing. 'The fact is, Ben did not pretend to be a writer,' he said.

'He was one, an instinctive writer at the beginning of a road he might have taken. It would not have been an easy road but he had the talent and most of the right walking gear.'

Advance copies of the book will be available from May 18 from Borders at Chapelfield, the UEA branch of Waterstones, Jarrolds in Norwich, Soundclash records on St Benedict's and from

Tickets to the event at 8pm on May 15 are available from the box offices at the arts centre and UEA, priced �3.

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