"The Heavy Metal Kid turns 60!" & Musical tributes!
Donna Holton - Gary's Wife
I was married to Gary for 7 years so obviously there are so many close up and personal things I can recall about our time together, but the most important memory for me is that he had a great big heart. Gary was a great man, what you saw in Gary is what you got. He always lived life on the edge but because of his fun loving personality he was always going to be successful. It was lovely to be able to support him in his singing and acting career because deep down Gary was always Gary and the loving bond between us pulled us through some scrapes along the way. I was his "Ruby" because I always used to wear red lipstick. He used to write and sing songs about blonde, blue eyed girls when in reality I had dark hair and big hazel eyes, but our love has endured forever.
Gary was such an exciting character that his name and his memory deserve to live on forever and ever.
Happy birthday Gary. Love you darling, know you love me too.
John Harwood Bee - Gary's Manager & Friend
Hard to believe, if my maths is still OK, that Gary would have been 60 years old this year. Even harder to believe is that in October it will be 27 years since we lost him and his significant talent. Such was his impact on me that there are, even now, very few days that he does not cross my mind at some time. I only have to look at the gold discs and posters in my office or to open a file from Carlton TV and some memory of him will come back to me. We had first met in 1975 in the early "Kids" days but it was not until some years later, and by coincidence, that my business partner in Norway, Barry Matheson, played me the demo that was to lead to us taking on Gary's management. Anybody who knew Gary will appreciate that managing him was like trying to tame a tornado but I have never regretted one minute of it. What I gained from it,as well as a client, was a friend who loved my family and who was loved by them. Gary was without doubt a very talented person; volatile and sometimes impossible but mainly a guy dedicated to what he did. You only have to look at his credits as an actor and the gold and platinum discs for his album sales to recognise that. On the other hand he was an incredibly generous and caring person who quietly supported charity without publicity or razzmatazz. Gary lived life 150% but always delivered.
It says a lot that his TV appearances are still showing and that, 27 years on, a new compilation DVD of "Holton Steel" is in demand in Norway. I was talking to his mum Joany the other day and we discussed his career as we always do. Although now in her 80's, she still has a sharp memory and every time we talk I find out little things about him I never knew before. When we finished the conversation I stopped to reflect on what might have been. What heights could he have gone on to. At the time of Gary's death we were considering a number of very good offers for TV and film. In Norway there were plans for a new album and in UK we were talking about another single and album. Sadly they were not meant to be. We lost Gary at a time when his star was rising. Would he at 60 have gone on and on still being that loveable character or would the world have devoured him anyway unable to understand him. We shall never know. All I know is that I lost a good friend, a great client and the world lost a unique performer.
Dave Thompson - Author & Journalist
The 70s produced a lot of stars, and every single one of them took a lot of effort to create, a lot of image and a lot of hype. Bowie, Bolan, Rotten, the lot. And then there was Gary, whom nature had given everything that those others had to work hard to create, and who made the lot of them look like brickies. Plus, he was one of the nicest guys I've ever met.
Justin McConville - Heavy Metal Kids
Gary became a huge cult figure in his own right there's something about him that's timeless. Singing Gary's songs, and indeed all the songs, is about little episodes of menacing, chancing London lads up for a laugh and are as relevant today as ever. I love Gary's little spoken stories of on the road humour.
Jahnet McIllwain - Gary's former girlfiend
People are always scared of publicity, Gary wasn't, he loved the light. Energy and talent were a hard cross to bare in the times he lived in and he was a wild boy, then so were we...not so much wild as untameable.
Gary Shail - Gary's Quadrophenia co-star & friend
Holton at 60 eh?? Now that is one party that would have brought me out of drinking retirement!!!
Andy McCoy (Hanoi Rocks)
"Gary was a sweetheart, a good mate. I have beautiful stories about him, and some terrible ones that I won't tell. He had substance abuse problems at the time, which was a huge shame, and of course so did I. Now, I want to see my grandchildren. I was the biggest Heavy Metal Kids fan. Gary came to every Hanoi Rocks gig. He hung out, got drunk and did whatever we did. At the time I was living in Great Titchfield Street in Soho, so it was convenient for partying - which we did plenty of! I was in L.A. when he died; I was upset but not too surprised. Like a lot of artists, he took drugs because he was too sensitive. Today you've gotta be a hard motherfucker."
"The bastard owed me a fiver when he died! In today's money that's twenty five quid! Gary was the first person I knew to own a Walkman. One night, after we'd been in a north London club, we walked all the way home, both speeding out of our boxes. I climbed through his window and left him a note: 'You were crashed out, so I did the only thing possible. I stole your tape recorder!'. He was a junkie, but a great guy. Once saw him play a gig in a wheelchair."
Joe Elliott (Def Leppard)
"I first saw the Heavy Metal Kids at Sheffield Top Rank in 1976. I was in the front row and when they played 'The Cops Are Coming', Gary Holton shouted: "What happened next?" Like a fucking idiot I replied: "His head fell off"...Holton threw me this terrifying look. I thought he was gonna jump down into the crowd and kill me. I once met Gary at London's Music Machine, he was just like his TV character. They were such a great band; they all looked like Ronnie Wood, too thin for their own good. They weren't musos, they were doing it for the right reasons. I still carry the first two albums with me on my i-pod wherever I go. If they ever want the third one [Kitsch] remixed then tell 'em to get in touch. I'll do it as a freebie."
Max Splodge (Splodgenessabounds)
"Gary Holton was Wayne [his character from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet], he wasn't acting. One night we overheard some chaps talking about a party for Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Gary rang the club and told 'em he was calling on behalf of Mr Holton and Mr Splodge, who'd been invited but couldn't make it, only now they'd caught an earlier flight. So could the doorman please make sure they were let in? As we pulled up, a motorbike nicked his parking space and its rider boasted: "You gotta be fast to do that". So Gary just reversed over his bike, grinning: "You've gotta be rich and famous to do that". Inside the club, we're given a table and he clicks his fingers to get champagne sent over. He knew all the dancers because he'd been in Hair with them, so he was telling these gorgeous girlies, "Come and sit with us, not them old poofs". It was a blinding night. Elton and Bernie were completely ignored and ended up walking out in disgust."
Mick Box (Uriah Heep)
"We toured with the Kids a lot and Gary was an all-round great guy. You'd have fun in his company, but you'd always end up in trouble. In a Munich hotel, I was waiting in the lobby for him to come down. The lift door opens and he's wearing a black and white plastic raincoat with a pair of stilettos. It was floor-length, and looked like a tablecloth. And he was wearing make-up. He'd like to take a bit of Valium and have a good drink, but Gary could talk himself out of a ruck. We did fleetingly consider Gary as a replacement for David Byron [in Heep], and I believe he could've done the job. His role within the Kids underplayed the fact that he was a good singer. But he never actually auditioned. Like his Wayne character, he'd walk into a room as though he owned the place. That was his persona, it gave him his star quality."
Michael Monroe (Hanoi Rocks)
"When Andy [McCoy] and I were kids, he had their single 'She's No Angel'. I always loved that song, so when Hanoi broke up I recorded it for my 'Nights Are So Long' album [in 1987, Scandinavia-only], and then again [two years later] on my worldwide record, 'Not Fakin' It'. Hanoi also recorded 'Delirious' on our latest album, '12 Shots On The Rocks'. That band were so ahead of their time. The verse in 'Delirious' goes "No-one in the world likes me" - it's the Pistols before punk. I never got to see the Heavy Metal Kids, but I already knew Gary Holton. When Hanoi first moved to London we all went to see him at the Marquee in his band Casino Steel. He then brought his wife and kids to our Marquee show; all dressed up as cowboys, with cute little guns and holsters."
*Thanks to Dave Ling*