Sunday 22 July 2018

The Blades guitarist Laurence Cleary passes away in Japan aged 60

The original line-up of The Blades including (far right) Laurence Cleary
The original line-up of The Blades including (far right) Laurence Cleary Newsdesk Newsdesk

Laurence Cleary, guitarist with rock band The Blades, has died in Japan aged 60.

Cleary, with his brother Paul, the band's songwriter, and drummer Pat Larkin, enjoyed a large and loyal following in the late 1970s.

They drew large crowds to their concerts in local venues such as the Magnet and the Baggot Inn, where they played every Tuesday night with U2 in the summer of 1979, alternating the headline slot.

He used a stage name, Lar Schreiber, in a bid to disguise the fact that two-thirds of the band were from the same family and had been living in the Far East since he left the band in 1982.

He played on the band's first three records, 'Hot For You', 'Ghost of A Chance', and 'The Bride Wore White'.

Cleary grew up in Ringsend, and attended Star of the Sea boys school and Ringsend Tech. He was working as a bus conductor when the band started to make a name for itself.

With his brother, Larkin, and two friends, Joey Donnelly and Johnny Burke, he formed a punk rock band to play at the CYMS hall in Ringsend in 1977.

They later became a three-piece and developed a bright, poppy sound based around Cleary's sparkling guitar and his brother's soulful voice. The Blades signed to Energy Records and released 'Hot For You' in May 1980, but are mainly remembered for their second single, 'Ghost of a Chance'.

Larkin was first to leave, and while Cleary linked up with new members Brian Foley and Jake Reilly for one single, the four-piece line-up was short-lived. The band broke up in the late 1980s but reformed for Christmas gigs in recent years.

Cleary, with his wife Tina, moved to Japan and made a new life there as a translator and English teacher. He passed away last Friday and is survived by Tina and siblings Paul and Helen. The band announced his death on Facebook.

Foley remembered his former band-mate: "I always picture Lar with a book in one hand and a can of Coke in the other. He always appeared to be an old head on young shoulders.

"He liked Steinbeck, Hank Williams and film noir. All we are left with now are some faded black and white pictures of him in a sharp suit and Brylcreemed hair and his beautiful guitar playing on those early singles.

"Maybe that's the way he would like it."

Irish Independent

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