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Barrington Stewart: a tribute

John Nuttall and a musical community in mourning

Published on May 9th 2011.


Barrington Stewart: a tribute

Friday saw a remarkable gathering of many of Manchester's finest musicians and singers performing at UMIST in a tribute to the late Barrington Stewart, one of the most gifted artists to emerge from the Manchester music scene.

The Facebook tribute page set up after his death was swamped with messages from young singers and musicians he'd inspired. 

Among those performing on the night were LMC & LoveLand vocalist, Rachel McFarlane; Primal Scream & Electronic vocalist, Denise Johnson; Sub Sub vocalist, Melanie Williams with Joe Roberts; Evolution and Simply Red vocalist, Yvonne Shelton; Ruby Turner & Errol Brown musical director, Andrew Williams backed by Simply Red and Stone Roses guitarist, Aziz Ibrahim; Stone Roses & Rebel MC drummer, Robbie Maddix; Miss Dynamite and George Michael keyboardist, Luke Smith and Barrington's brother Lawrence on bass.

Barrington was immersed in music from a very early age with his background in the Manchester gospel scene. He soon moved into secular music inspired by bands such as Funkadelic to sing in his band, Projektion with soon to be Simply Red musical maestro, Fritz McIntyre. That band morphed into funk rock powerhouse, Gina Gina in the mid 80s. Featuring Barrington on vocals; brother Lawrence on bass; drummer, Robbie Maddix who went on to join the Rebel MC and the Stone Roses and guitarist Aziz Ibrahim who went on to join Simply Red and the Stone Roses.

Barrington and Lawrence were given a production deal with Whitney Houston's producer, Derek Bramble giving Barrington an insight into the production and writing side of the music business.

Inspired by this he then turned his hand to writing and producing other artists. With Lawrence Stewart he produced Kid Creole amongst others. Much in demand as a backing vocalist he provided backing vocals for George Benson and Doves. Jimi Goodwin, who had known Barrington since the mid 80s describes him as “a warm, friendly guy with a wonderful voice and wickedly funny.”

A production residency at Manchester's legendary Spirit Studios resulted in Barrington joining forces with Vanilla Sound Corp's Simon Crompton to form Loopzilla whose 'Walking on Sunshine' single charted on the Noise label.

Another production residency at Stockport's Coconut Grove studio saw Barrington and Lawrence involved in the first John Leckie helmed Stone Roses' tracks. Factory producer, Martin Hannett also called them in for his Happy Mondays’ sessions at Stockport's Strawberry studios.

On record he sang lead vocals with Incognito on their '100% and Rising' album also touring the world singing lead vocal with 808 State. Graham Massey says: “If singers were plants, Barry had green fingers. He nurtured and coaxed others while bringing a quiet confidence and warmth with his own voice. From the Boardwalk to the Hollywood Bowl, Barry effortlessly charmed any audience in his path.”

Click here for a video clip.

Over the last few years Barrington became a mentor at Longsight's Cultural Fusion youth project. There he trained and encouraged young people to realise their musical skills. The Facebook tribute page set up after his death was swamped with messages from young singers and musicians that he'd inspired. 

Barrington Stewart died from a heart attack on 14 April, aged just forty six. He leaves behind seven siblings, three children, his partner Amelia Del Bargo, many friends and a huge musical legacy.

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AnonymousJuly 9th 2011.

TRUELY A GREAT MUSIC LENGEND REST IN PARADISE U MAY B GONE BUT UR MUSIC AND WHAT U AV DONE FOR PEOPLE IN THE MUSIC BUSSSINESS FAR AN WIDE WILL LIVE ON 4 EVA MORE.

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