Deke Leonard, guitarist for influential Welsh progressive rock band Man, has died aged 72.
Born Roger Leonard in Llanelli, South Wales in December 1944, Deke played in various bands throughout the sixties and took his stage name from Deke Rivers, Elvis’ character in the 1957 movie ‘Loving You’.
In 1968 he joined harmony group The Bystanders, however, the band soon embraced a West Coast psychedelia, progressive rock and blues dynamic and changed their name to Man.
As guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, he enjoyed five separate spells with Man over the decades and co-wrote/performed on dozens of their records from 1969’s ‘Revelation’ (featuring the banned track ‘Erotica’ due to its simulated orgasm) right up to 2002’s ‘Undrugged’.
He’s also celebrated for his own band Iceberg, which he formed and disbanded several times, and received considerable critical acclaim.
In more recent years, Deke regularly performed with Son of Man featuring some original band members and their offspring.
Alongside music he was a talented writer, penning the liner notes for many of Man’s albums together with four autobiographical books Rhinos, Winos & Lunatics (1996), Maybe I Should've Stayed in Bed? (2000), The Twang Dynasty – From Memphis to Merthyr, guitarists that rocked the world (2011) and Maximum Darkness: Man on the Road to Nowhere (2015).
Other ventures included as a panellist, commentator and narrator on a number of television and radio shows.
Remembering his friend, Welsh filmmaker Kevin Allen told the South Wales Evening Post: “Deke was a true gentlemen of acid rock and he had a fantastic presence on stage. How on earth he survived that era to remain so erudite and engaging was a mystery.
“Deke was such an interesting, gentle and lovely person and he was part of a dying breed – he'll be really missed.”
The cause of Deke’s death hasn’t been revealed.