Tuesday 6 December 2016

'Words cannot express the sadness we feel' - Tributes paid to death plunge band Viola Beach and manager

Tributes pour in for up-and-coming band

Press Association

Published 14/02/2016 | 10:16

Scene of the incident. Inset: Viola Beach
Scene of the incident. Inset: Viola Beach
A badly damaged car is towed up from the canal under the E4 highway bridge in Sodertalje, Sweden, Saturday, Feb.13, 2016. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP)
A badly damaged car, bottom, center, is towed up from the canal under the E4 highway bridge in Sodertalje, Sweden, Saturday, Feb.13, 2016. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP)

A British indie band and their manager have died after the car they were travelling in plunged more than 80ft into a canal in Sweden.

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The four members of Viola Beach and manager Craig Tarry were killed when their vehicle crashed just hours after they played their first gig outside the UK.

Tributes were paid to the group - whose members were Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe and Jack Dakin - and Mr Tarry following the accident in Sodertalje, 18 miles from the capital Stockholm, in the early hours of Saturday.

The family of Mr Leonard, 20, said: "Words cannot express the sadness we feel at the loss of our precious Kristian. He was doing the job he loved and will be missed so much by his family and friends."

Very excited to announce we've been invited by to play BBC Introducing and PRS for Music Foundation’s showcase at SXSW...

Posted by Viola Beach on Tuesday, 2 February 2016

"We ask for privacy to grieve at this devastating time."

Read more: Viola Beach's breakthrough came after frontman 'sent song to the BBC while cleaning toilets'

A badly damaged car is towed up from the canal under the E4 highway bridge in Sodertalje, Sweden, Saturday, Feb.13, 2016. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP)
A badly damaged car is towed up from the canal under the E4 highway bridge in Sodertalje, Sweden, Saturday, Feb.13, 2016. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP)

The family of Mr Reeves, 19, said they were "heartbroken" by his death alongside the bandmates and manager "he adored and loved".

In a statement, they said: "Viola Beach were on such an exciting journey and River could not have been happier. He would have loved to have stuck around for the party.

A badly damaged car, bottom, center, is towed up from the canal under the E4 highway bridge in Sodertalje, Sweden, Saturday, Feb.13, 2016. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP)
A badly damaged car, bottom, center, is towed up from the canal under the E4 highway bridge in Sodertalje, Sweden, Saturday, Feb.13, 2016. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP)

"All River wanted to do was perform and entertain and to think that he will never make us laugh again with his ridiculous impressions and cheeky banter is beyond comprehension for all his family."

Mr Tarry's family said they were "devastated" and "grieving the loss of their son and also for the other families involved in this tragic accident".

The band, from Warrington, Cheshire, had played the Where Is The Music? festival in Norrkoping, Sweden, shortly before the crash.

A musician who played at the gig said there had been "a lot of snow" that day and Mr Tarry, 32, had not been drinking at the event because he was driving.

John Olsson, from Swedish band Psykofant, told the Press Association: ''We shared a dressing room. They were fantastic people to be around. Very happy and chirpy.

"With their charming British accents, they were like The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night. I was standing in the audience thinking I will be able to say I hung around with Viola Beach before they made it big.''

Read more: Family's lament for teenager who died with bandmates and manager in canal plunge

Swedish police are examining the band's car in the hope of discovering the cause of the crash.

Officers were called to the incident at about 2.30am and said the Nissan Qashqai had gone through a barrier of a bridge which had opened to let a boat pass underneath.

The barrier, 50 metres before the opening, had flashing lights and warning signs, the officer handling the case said.

Inspector Martin Bergholm said: ''For some reason, the car drove through the barriers and crashed down into the canal."

''The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear.''

Police spokeswoman Carena Skagerlend added: "We are looking at the car and talking to witnesses.

Viola Beach described themselves as an ''indie pop'' band, with Mr Leonard on guitar and vocals, Mr Reeves on guitar, Mr Lowe on bass and Mr Dakin on drums.

The four-piece released their debut single Swings & Waterslides last year and had featured on BBC Introducing, which showcases up-and-coming music artists.

The band, who previously toured with The Courteeners, were just weeks away from playing a homecoming gig at Warrington's Pyramid on March 12 and had announced plans to play their biggest home town show at the Parr Hall on October 1.

They had also been scheduled to play at the Boileroom in Guildford, Surrey, on Saturday but the event was cancelled following the tragedy. Posting on Instagram, the venue said it was "saddened and devastated" to learn of the fatal crash.

Tributes to the five men, aged between 19 and 32, poured in from the music world.

British band The Enemy wrote on social media: "RIP Viola Beach and their manager. Such incredibly tragic and sad news. Thought with the friends and families of all involved x."

James Walsh, lead singer of Starsailor, said: "Very sad to hear the awful news about Warrington's Viola Beach and their manager. Lives and music tragically cut short in their prime."

Ross Jarman, from The Cribs, said his "heart goes out to the Viola Beach guys and their families" while The Coral's James Skelly posted: "So sorry to hear about viola beach and Craig tarry's accident so sad, their families must be devastated."

Radio One DJ Huw Stephens added: "So sorry to hear the news about Viola Beach and their manager. The saddest news. Thinking of all their families at this awful time."

Tributes were also paid to Mr Tarry who was described as a "man of unshakable (sic) optimism" and a passionate Manchester City football club fan.

Club fans rallied on Twitter to arrange a round of applause during the fifth minute of the Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur Premier League match.

Press Association

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