'One-of-a-kind' Northampton-born musician Colin York, who played gigs across the world, dies aged 81

Colin (left) and Graham Worley in Aden, Yemen. This photo made the front of the Chronicle & Echo in 1959.
Colin (left) and Graham Worley in Aden, Yemen. This photo made the front of the Chronicle & Echo in 1959.

A 'one-of-a-kind' Northampton-born musician who made a living playing pubs and bars across the world has died.

Colin York, also known by his on-off stage name Dane Hunter, passed away in Yuma, USA, on January 25, aged 81.

Colin's band The Apex Group after they reformed c1961.

Colin's band The Apex Group after they reformed c1961.

The lifelong musician made a name playing the pubs and bars of Northampton in the early 1950s with his skiffle band The Apex Group before leaving to play across America in the late 1970s.

His friend of 60 years and frequent bandmate Graham Worley told the Chronicle & Echo: "Colin was one very special person, a great guitarist with a wonderful voice. He will be missed by many."

Colin York was born on November 14, 1937. Throughout his late teenage years, he played Northampton pubs and formed the popular Apex Group skiffle band as a talented singing guitarist.

Graham said: "He had a great voice and a good bit of charisma too. He was popular wherever he went."

Colin and Graham play a civic function in Somerset in 1960. 'The girls went crazy,' Graham said. 'Agents wanted to sign us up!'

Colin and Graham play a civic function in Somerset in 1960. 'The girls went crazy,' Graham said. 'Agents wanted to sign us up!'

Graham met Colin in 1959, shortly before they were both drafted into the Royal Anglian Regiment. They were both sent to Aden, Yemen, where they spent a year playing night after night in the army's band to entertain soldiers and officers.

In the years after he returned to the UK, Colin found brief success when CBS Records picked him up. He released the record 'Silly Little Girl' - a song originally written for Tom Jones - under the stage name Dane Hunter in 1965.

In the following years, Colin 'got away' from the record label lifestyle when he went to Sweden for four years with his first wife.

After he returned, he reconnected with Graham to form the band 'Scenery' with Graham Waugh and Glen Ward in 1973. For the next three years, the band found themselves touring back and forth across the country, sometimes playing gigs six nights a week.

Colin's record label photo as 'Dane Hunter' for CBS records.

Colin's record label photo as 'Dane Hunter' for CBS records.

Graham said: "It was the four of us every day, every night, and we never ever argued. We spent a lot of time together, just enjoying the excitement of producing our own music. They were some good days."

When the band split up in 1976, Colin moved to Hawaii with his second wife Julie Webb. He would move from city to city in America for the rest of his life. Colin became a skilled country musician and played bars, trailer parks and holiday sites across the States, including Seattle, San Diego, and Kentucky.

Graham said: "His talent got better and better. He had such a voice for it. If he ever went into a recording studio he would get it in one take."

It wasn't until 1999 when Graham's mother died of cancer that Colin would be called back to Northampton for one last gig.

The band's back together: Scenery on stage at The Picturedrome for one last gig in 1999.

The band's back together: Scenery on stage at The Picturedrome for one last gig in 1999.

Now in their sixties, the four men of Scenery got together for the first time in 25 years to play a sellout crowd at The Picturedrome in Kettering Road and raised over £1,760 for Cynthia Spencer Hospice. Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople fame, and a long-time friend of Colin's, also played.

In later life, Colin continued playing gigs in America and had friends visit him in Yuma. His third wife, Joyce, died in 2013.

Colin passed away on January 25, 2019, with his son Michael by his bedside.

Graham said: "I really miss the guy. We were closer than brothers. He was a one-of-a-kind guy and a real loss to music. He was a treasure to be with.

"People loved his music and he was admired by so many."

Since his passing, dozens of poeple have shared their thoughts to remember him on the Northampton Old Faces Where Are You Facebook page.

Colin and Graham at Colin's home in Yuma in 2013.

Colin and Graham at Colin's home in Yuma in 2013.