Slack Alice frontman Cliff (70) dies

Tributes are continuing to pour in for one of the music industry's most charismatic characters.

Monday, 2nd May 2016, 12:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 4:08 pm
Cliff Stocker

Cliff Stocker, the unforgettable frontman of hit Blues outfit Slack Alice, died last Saturday at the age of 70.

Originally from the North-East, he made his home in Barnoldswick but was renowned across the North-West for legendary live performances, a tireless work ethic and his friendly nature.

A statement from the band read: “The band would like to extend their deepest sympathy and condolences to Anne and Cliff’s immediate family.

“Cliff’s legendary status and reputation were already firmly established prior to our coming together as the last and most successful incarnation of Slack Alice. To be asked to work with him in the band was an honour and a privilege but to actually experience working with him made you realise just why he was legendary.

“His musical vision was paramount and he worked ceaselessly to achieve it. He had the uncanny knack of always getting the best performance possible out of you and he was always ready and willing to listen to new ideas and arrangements.

“He gave us all so much encouragement and always gave credit where it was due. I think it’s fair to say he made us all grow as musicians. Being associated with Cliff and Slack Alice made us all feel special and took the humdrum out of everyday life.

“We’ll all miss him and our life together as a band dreadfully but we’re all grateful he gave us the chance to shine.”

Bass player Alan Sagar added: “It has been an honour and a pleasure working with Cliff and Slack Alice for the last nine years. We’ve travelled the country and had great laughs and fantastic gigs. I have watched with admiration Cliff performing over the last 40 years and cannot ever thank him enough for his encouragement and support as a musician and friend.

“Words cannot express how sad my wife and I feel at this moment in time.”

A staunch supporter of the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival, in the last decade Cliff became heavily involved in booking talent for the festival, offering a number of young emerging artistes their chance to shine.

Pendle Leisure Trust Chief Executive Alison Goode said: “Cliff was a true gentleman and one of the loveliest people I have ever met

“He has been so supportive of the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival over the years. He has worked with me over the last eight to nine years being actively involved in programming the British and Official Roadhouses for the festival.

“He worked tirelessly in this role ensuring that the festival showcased the best musicians along with finding and showcasing young emerging talent. He always took great pleasure in seeing artistes he had put on the line up being well received by the audience. He was instrumental in making the Festival what it is today.

“He was also a very talented artiste himself with his own unique style and voice and whenever he played along with his band at the Festival you could always count on a full house. The world has lost a very special man and I will miss his support, advice and above all his friendship.”

One of the artistes he took a chance on was Burnley-born Blues starlet Lucy Zirins, whose reputation as a singer-songwriter has been growing ever since.

“I’m shocked by Cliff’s death, it seems so sudden,” she said. “He took a chance on me at 16 and booked me for Colne Blues which was a massive deal as it broke me into that world and helped me get noticed. He always had words of advice and I know he’ll be missed by the music community.”

Cliff formed Slack Alice in 1973, later going on to be a member of Seven Year Itch with Dave Walmley. He reformed Slack Alice in 1996 and the band were as busy as ever with a number of tour dates scheduled for 2016.

Cliff was also a well-known figure at The Grand in Clitheroe having performed and recorded there on a number of occasions.

Studio manager Tom Peters said: “It’s hard to think of a more committed and passionate person than Cliff; his tireless desire to get the music in his head faithfully translated for the world to hear was undeniable. His warmth and character will be missed so dearly here, to think that he will no longer stroll through the door of the studio with his trademark confidence and swagger is heartbreaking.

“Cliff was one of the first real champions of The Grand studio, he made us proud to be engineers and proud to be doing what we do and it was an honour to work with him. His talent, character and humour will live on here at The Grand.”