Today, we say goodbye to our dear friend Harry Roberts, more commonly known in Bradford as “Scouse”. He passed away on 29th April after suffering a heart attack during a shopping trip. The funeral service will be at Scholemoor Crematorium at 2.40pm today (Wednesday 18th May, 2016) followed by a gathering at his favourite pub The Black Swan, Thornton Road, Bradford. There will also be a memorial all day event featuring a collection of local bands and DJs. This will be held at The Beehive pub, Westgate on Saturday 4th June starting at 2pm.
Harold George Roberts (Scouse) was a well known and much loved sound engineer, spending many of his later years working in the venues of Bradford. He was a unique character with a wicked and mischievous sense of humour, which got him into trouble from time to time but as anyone who knew him will testify, his heart was always in the right place.
His time in Bradford stretches back about 20 years when at that point he had retired from the sound engineering business and was working as a sheet metal worker. He first came out of retirement at The Peel pub in the early to mid 2000’s, where he started off doing bits of karaoke. When The Peel closed, he started up at The Black Swan, where he laid his heart. He was to continue with live sound at that venue on and off until very recently.
He moved from the Black Swan to the Zuu bar in 2010 where he worked for another year or so. After the Zuu closed, he decamped back to the Swan again for a while until in the summer of 2013, he started doing bits at the Love Apple and moved into Vampire as resident sound engineer in the September. The following year, he moved along with the Vampire team to the Tavern in the Town on Barry Street where he worked for a while. He later moved on to Trash on Sackville Street and continued with bits of work at the jam sessions at The Black Swan. He mixed hundreds of bands in those few years alone and he was a very well known face in the city. However, what many people don’t realise is his rich and varied history with sound engineering.
When Scouse passed away, he was 70 years old and was coming up to celebrating 50 years service in the entertainment industry as a sound engineer. He started off in a band in Liverpool in the early 60’s in which he played the drums. He didn’t feel as though his talent laid in this role and decided that being a roadie was where his heart was. He was one of the first people in Liverpool to own a mixing desk. In the 60’s they were all valve and cumbersome with only 4 channels but he could see the value in using one for a rock band. Marshall were hesitant to let him buy it at first as they intended the product to be for the BBC and such like but after his persistent nagging with the various sales executives, they agreed to sell him one. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, he worked in London and Liverpool, doing sound for many up and coming bands often going on tour with them.
He also worked as a junior sound engineer in the early 70’s at some big gigs in Hyde Park, London. They were known as the Hyde Park Free Concerts and the bill contained such heavyweights as King Crimson, Soft Machine and The Rolling Stones.
He went on tour with Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Kool and the Gang, The Real Thing and Supercharge. He loved mixing brass and vocal harmonies more than anything and his favourite band was the Eagles.
Of course we only knew him in recent years and the facts above were compiled from various stories and anecdotes. We believe in all those years, he must have worked with many well known acts and had probably forgotten more than most people experience in a life time. He was never one to brag or name drop and would only talk about his time on the road when asked and (usually) under the influence.
He was a very passionate man who lived and breathed music. He paid for all of his own equipment from his pension and built all of his own speaker cabs from scratch. He was also a master carpenter and watching him at work was a joy.
For all in his latter days, his ears sometimes failed him (he left many a ringing ear after some of his gigs), his heart never did and he particularly loved watching new upcoming artists. He also passed on some of his knowledge to young budding sound engineers and was always happy to help and teach anyone who wanted to listen.
Rest well old friend, we will miss you.
Alec Marlow & Michael Dunn.