Daily Telegraph

Deke Leonard Obituary – 18/12/1944 – 31/01/2017

Guitarist with the psychedelic progressive rock group Man

DEKE LEONARD, who has died aged 72, was the guitarist with the Welsh progressive rock group Man, best known for their pyschedelic sound and extended jam sessions during live performances in the 1970s and 1980s.

Leonard founded Man along with fellow guitarist and singer Micky Jones in 1968. The band went on to have 17 different line-ups, but the two men’s musical partnership formed its core – on and off – for some 30 years until Jones’s death in 2010.

Man was rooted in 1960s psychedelia and their first album, Revelation (1969), embraced every aspect of prog rock experimentation, combining heavy blues and moody organ playing with pregnant pauses, operatic choral singing and a moaning woman in a state of sexual ecstasy on the track Erotica, as a result of which the song earned a British ban (and became a hit in France).

Man broke up, disbanded and reformed a number of times, and Leonard also had a separate career with his own group, Iceberg (which also disbanded several times). But Man’s cult followers (of which there were many) tended to agree that the group was at its best when Leonard and Jones were performing live together on songs such as Bananas (“I like to eat bananas/’cos they got no bones/ I like marijuana ’cos it gets me stoned””) and Scotch Corner (“His eyes were full of wisdom/But his mouth was full of s—”).

After their second album, 2 Ozs of Plastic with a Hole in the Middle (1969), Leonard left the band to work in a piano factory, but later returned, and during the next three decades he enjoyed five separate spells with Man, co-writing and performing with them until 2004 and playing on some of their most critically acclaimed albums.

Shortly before his death Leonard was performing with Son of Man, a group made up of former members of Man and George Jones, Micky Jones’s son. “I’ve been sacked by every member of the Man band at some point,” he once explained, “but they always found out that they couldn’t do it without me and had to invite me back.”

Roger “Deke” Leonard was born on December 18, 1944, at Llanelli, South Wales. He took the name “Deke” from Deke Rivers, the character played by Elvis Presley in the film Loving You.

After leaving school (where he had formed his first band, Lucifer and the Corncrackers) and a spell working as a building constructor, Leonard decided to devote himself to music full time, playing with various bands, including Dream – who prompted the headline in 1967 “The Biggest Freak-Out To Hit South Wales” – and supporting well known acts such as Johnny Kidd & the Pirates and the Hollies. He toured US bases in Europe as the bass player for the Blackjacks and played in Hamburg with The Jets.

In November 1968 Leonard joined the Bystanders, which almost immediately changed its name to Man. After a spell with Iceberg, he rejoined Man in 1974, staying until the group disbanded late in 1976, and playing on several albums from Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics to All’s Well That Ends Well. His most recent solo work, Freedom and Chains, was released in 2005. Leonard was also the author of several books including Rhinos, Winos & Lunatics (1996), Maybe I Should’ve Stayed in Bed?

(2000) and The Twang Dynasty – From Memphis to Merthyr, Guitarists That Rocked the World (2012), which he described as a “love story” about “strangers and friends, trailblazers and no-hopers, geniuses and fools, maestri and charlatans”. Maximum Darkness: Man on the Road to Nowhere was published in 2015.

Deke Leonard is survived by his long-term partner Mary and his daughter.

Deke Leonard, born December 18 1944, died January 31 2017