Bass legend and former Islington Gazette sub-editor dies

08:33 15 May 2013

Ken Whaley

Ken Whaley


A legendary globe-trotting bass player and former Gazette sub-editor has died after a brief battle with cancer.

Ken Whaley, who lived in Islington for more than 35 years, was 67 when he passed away on May 8.

He was brought up in east London and started his journalistic career there, working on local newspapers, following in the footsteps of his father who was a newspaper photographer.

He worked for the Gazette as a sub-editor in the early 1970s during the difficult change from hot metal to digital and during industrial unrest.

At the same time as he was forging his career as a bass guitarist in various rock bands. He combined the two for some time, but eventually quit to concentrate on being a musician – soon touring and playing massive gigs in the United States with the band Man.

Described as a “legendary” bassist by his former manager, he was a founder member of the band Ducks Duluxe and made four albums with Man and another outfit Help Yourself – including the eponymously titled The Return of Ken Whaley.

In recent years he played with his brother Simon in a band called The Green Ray, often with American 60s guitar legend Barry Melton.

He later returned to journalism, and in 1982 returned to the Gazette where he worked as a sub editor for a further 10 years.

Tony Allcock, former editor of the Gazette, said: “Ken Whaley was a very talented and creative man who was respected by all who knew him. He was a world-class bass player and an excellent sub-editor – one of the best I ever worked with.

“He was also a lovely person – kind, generous, unassuming and a loyal friend. He made a great contribution to the Islington Gazette over the years and will always be remembered fondly by all his former colleagues.”

Mr Whaley played many gigs in the famous Hope and Anchor pub, in Upper Street, Islington, in the 1970’s as it became a trailblazing rock pub and breeding ground for fresh talent.

John Eichler who ran the pub and also managed Help Yourself, said: “Ken has been a large part of my family’s lives for the past 40 odd years. He was a great friend and an entertaining companion.

“We were chalk to cheese and could argue our views on modern culture for hours. Ken turned me on to so much music and literature I’m so grateful.

“Ken was elegant in looks, in thought and in his rich and subtle bass playing.

“I always felt he was a man out of time; his sensibilities were from a earlier age. He was a truly gentle man.

“We worked, lived and laughed together for many wonderful years and he leaves a bloody great hole in my heart.”

Mr Whaley is survived by three brothers and two sisters.

His funeral takes place at the Islington Crematorium, in Finchley, on Friday at 3.30pm.


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