SAD NEWS TO REPORT ~ HUDSON FORD GUITARIST, MICKEY KEEN'S PASSING - by Jill Morrison
Photo from Lindsay Sorrell's collection - Mickey Keen far left, Hud, Ken Laws, John Ford, Chris Parren
I was a friend of Mickey Keen for almost 14 years: after he managed one of my bands in the mid 1990s, I have stayed in touch with him and saw him regularly.
Mickey was still playing guitar and involved in the music business until recently. His passing is a great loss to those who knew him and he will be greatly missed.
Mickey's service will be held at Thornhill Crematorium, Cardiff at 11 am on Saturday 15th November. A memorial/jam session to celebrate his life will be held at The Pilot, Queens Road, Penarth, Cardiff, starting at around 1.30pm. Mickey regularly jammed at The Pilot on Sunday evenings, and he was highly thought of in both personal and musical terms.
Should anybody need directions to either Thornhill or Penarth, please let me know in advance: I can be contacted on 07980 598457 until approximately 10am on Saturday.
Sat 8th November - Sad to report the passing of Mickey Keen, original guitarist in Hudson Ford band, early Saturday morning after a brave battle with cancer.
Mickey was heard on first two albums Nickelodeon and Free Spirit which included members John Ford, Richard Hudson - having recently left the Strawbs, Chris Parren and the late Ken Laws. John Ford remarked, Mickey was instrumental in the Monks second album, Suspended Animation and High Society being signed to Eagle Records.
Other bits of Mickey Keen's musical attributions:
In 1969, with a band on stage in the London production of the musical "Hair", appearing on the album as well. Early on in 1965, he played with Division Two, followed by The Ivy League band and on to Hudson Ford. Mickey re-grouped in 1999 with The Ivy League bandmate, Tony Burrows, forming The Hit Squad which also included Chris Parren from Hudson Ford.
Mickey's many recording sessions included Alex Harvey, John Wetton, Larry Norman, Maggie Bell, Malcolm & Alwyn, Sparrow and Edward's Hand [Rod Edwards & Roger Hand], appearing on many album releases.
Just to say how sorry I was to learn recently that Mickey Keen was terminally ill. I hadn't been in touch with Mickey for many years, and the last time I spoke to him was at the pub gathering following Strawbs' Chiswick Park reunion in August 1998. He and Hudson Ford's drummer, Ken Laws (also sadly now deceased) were both there and I believe Hudson Ford had at one time been scheduled to play on the bill but it didn't happen because of time constraints. Mickey was on great form that night, quietly laughing and joking, and I remember him ribbing John Ford over the contents of his travel bag among many other things.
In the Hudson Ford days my friend Christine and I got to know Mickey at concerts, and although I suspect a fair amount of his extremely dry sense of humour went over our heads at the time he was always amusing and very kind. One particular incident I remember followed a concert in Colchester in February 1974 – my friend and I (then aged 15) had booked ourselves into a local hotel. Mickey insisted that the band would drop us back there on their way back to London rather than let us walk in the dark, and we all somehow crammed into the car with Mickey driving. We stopped at a tea-bar en route and Mickey bought everyone a hot drink – slightly bizarre memories I know, but when you're 15 things like that stick in your mind. As we set off again John Ford complained, tongue-in-cheek, that Mickey's driving was making him spill his hot chocolate, so Mickey slowed down to a virtual standstill and really exaggeratedly "drove round the pot-holes" just so John could have his drink. It was just one example of Mickey's great sense of fun, and got everyone laughing.
Mickey was also the first person who ever spoke to me about weird and wonderful subjects such as macrobiotic food (I don't think I'd even heard of health food shops at the time), astrology, and harnessing the power of pyramids to sharpen razor blades. I'd sometimes be listening in awe then catch a twinkle in his eye and wonder whether I was having my leg firmly pulled…
Condolences to everyone close to Mickey. Quite apart from being an excellent guitarist he was a lovely guy who so often seemed to warm the atmosphere with his quiet sense of fun and kindness.
I have just found out about of the passing of Mickey Keen who was my brother in law. I was married to his sister Susan for 33 years until she sadly passed away in December 2005. He had written to me in April 2008 after finding out of the passing of his sister, but made no mention as to his state of health. I had written back to him but did not get a reply.
We lost contact with him for several years after a family dispute. When he eventually got in contact we found out that he had been living in Wales. He moved in with us for many months while trying set up a business in London, but it did not come to anything. The last time we saw Mickey was on a flying visit from Canada when he came back to Wales.
I first met Mickey late 1967 when he was sharing a flat in Hampstead with Alex Harvey and Elaine Page plus a constant stream of visitors including David Bowie and Tim Curry. In the early 60's Mickey was often found at the Flamingo Club in Soho playing at their infamous all-nighters alongside such luminaries as Georgie Fame, Zoot Money, Tony Colton, Chris Farlowe and many others. When I met him he was mainly working as a session musician and playing in a weekend band around the United States Air force Bases led by Ray Shore. He joined the Hair Band when the show first opened and stayed with the band for quite a while. Prior to this he had been with Carter Lewis and the Southerners and the Ivy League.
I would be very interested to hear from anybody who knew Mickey in his latter years.