Tony Ashton was an English rock pianist, keyboardist, singer, composer, producer and artist.
In 1959, at the age of 13, whilst Ashton was a student at St. George's School, Blackpool, he joined a local group The College Boys, this was where he started his musical career. When Ashton left school at the age of 15 he was already an accomplished pianist.
After playing with various Blackpool bands, Ashton was invited to join the Liverpool group The Remo Four as organist/vocalist. The group spent some time being the resident band at Hamburg's legendary Star club. They recorded some singles but their best work came in 1966 when they released their album "Smile". .
Tony met Deep Purple in the early 1970s, when the last recording of Ashton, Gardner and Dyke was a collaboration with keyboardist Jon Lord on the soundtrack for a b-movie called The Last Rebel. In the meantime, Ashton had appeared on Jon Lord's first solo album "Gemini Suite" in 1971. In 1973, Ashton joined the group Family for their last album and tour.
By the early 1990s, Tony Ashton had got back on his feet and began to develop his second career, as an artist, specialising in idiosyncratic drawings and more elaborate paintings. He had always dabbled in art as a minor hobby but became very serious about it, thanks to his mother in-law who owned an art gallery.
Tony Ashton died from cancer on 28 May 2001 at his home.
Respected British rock musician to succumb to cancer was Tony Ashton, a vocalist, musician and songwriter who served his apprenticeship as a member of The Remo Four. Ashton performed for many years as both singer and organist with the group as they supported The Beatles in Hamburg (where they were briefly to become the resident band). The nearest he came to stardom, however, was with bassist Kim Gardner and drummer Roy Dyke as the imaginatively named Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, who scored a one-off chart smash with "Resurrection Shuffle" (1971). This trio was to last for three albums, Ashton also finding time to work with Deep Purple mainstays Jon Lord and Ian Paice, as well as assisting with solo work by both Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Ashton later turned his talents to painting and jingle-writing.
1. The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars -Jeremy Simmonds, 2nd Edition, Chicago Review Press, Incorporated, 2012
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