Preston drummer who played at Woodstock dies aged 67

Artwoods: Keef Hartley, from Preston with his band
Artwoods: Keef Hartley, from Preston with his band
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THE family of a Preston drummer who played at Woodstock and backed rock legends including John Mayall have been paying tribute following his death at the age of 67.

Drummer Keef Hartley followed in the footsteps of Ringo Starr, taking his place in Liverpool band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, before carving out a career in his own name in the Keef Hartley (Big) Band.

Keef Hartley, musician

Keef Hartley, musician

Keef was born in Preston on April 8 1944, living at his family home in Cambridge Street, Plungington. At 15 the music mad teenager left his home town and moved to Liverpool to follow his dreams of becoming a musician.

And as the beat era began to explode in the city, Keef’s musical career followed suit.

After stepping into Ringo’s shoes there was a stint with Freddie Starr and the Midnighters and blues legend John Mayall before moving to London in the late 60s.

But Keef never forgot his roots.

Nephew Kevin Orme says: “He used to come home and tell us stories – Freddie Starr used to come round to my grans for jam butties, apparently!”

The Keef Hartley band toured Europe and America, where the band’s first LP, Half Breed was soaring up the charts.

It was this success which led to the band being booked at Woodstock.

Speaking to the Evening Post on his return to Preston in 1994, he said: “They were hiring some incredible names but they had a fixed budget to stick to so they needed some lesser known names as well.

“I can’t remember what we were paid now but it was two or three thousand dollars and I got the lion’s share!”

In the early 90s Keef hung up his drumsticks and returned to the city, moving back in to the family home in Cambridge Street.

He took up work as a joiner, working as one part of Hunter Hartley of Preston, but he kept a raft of rock’n’roll stories up his sleeve.

Keef died at Royal Preston Hospital on Saturday November 26, aged 67.

His cause of death is yet to be established and the matter has been referred to the coroner. His funeral is expected to take place next week.

Any enquiries should be made with Kevin by e-mail at k_orme@sky.com.