Most of you who have attended one of our gigs would have been aware of the presence of a big bloke with a huge hug for everyone and enormous presence and who was frequently turned to a blubbering wreck when an emotional song was performed. Well, that man was Steve Beastie who has been sadly and cruelly taken from us far too soon after falling victim to a vicious cancer which in the end he was unable to defeat.
In the very early days when Leeds Blues Club first came into being, I received a message from someone who presented himself as Beastie from Voodoo Radio and who was over the moon that a Blues Club which was local to him had been formed, and how he would love to help support it. He also directed me to his radio show ‘Beastie’s Blues Club’ which was a weekly show on an internet radio station when the man himself played modern blues music from various artists. With his banter between tracks, his catchphrases and most of all his emotion and sheer enthusiasm it became essential listening for me each week and I ended up downloading the shows and listening to them over and over again. His depth of knowledge of the music and the industry were also a huge influence in setting the agenda for the artists that I wanted to play at Leeds Blues Club and as I got to know him, he was the first person I turned to for advice on the artists we were booking to perform.
He also became a great advocate and promoter of our shows, mentioning them most weeks and playing tracks from the artists that were scheduled to play as well as putting his money where his mouth was and becoming our first Heritage Member of the club.
As I got to know Beastie, I begun to appreciate what a special man this was. Although retired he had spent a lifetime in public service as a fire fighter and during retirement had been delivering ‘meals on wheels’ in the local area around West Yorkshire. He also had great respect from many people in the music industry and his association with Leeds Blues Club became so important when it gave us instant credibility with some well known artists who otherwise may have been sceptical about coming to play at a new venue.
His untimely demise has left a massive hole in our club that is unlikely to ever be filled, however we are determined to continue our association with Beastie and honour his memory and contribution, commencing with a tribute gig which we have titled ‘Beastie Fest.’ I obtained a list of bands and performers that Beastie would like to see on a ‘dream event’ and approached them to see if they would be willing to come and play for us. Almost without exception all the bands have agreed to come and play and many more have since expressed an interest in performing. We are in the process of finalizing the arrangements for Beastie Fest with his family and hope to announce the full details soon so please watch this space for more information.
Finally, on a personal note I just want to say a huge thank you to the chuffin’ off the scale wonderful Beastie. My life as well as many others has been enriched by being able to call him a friend. I would like to send huge amounts of love and condolences to his wonderful wife and companion Janice, his daughter Hollie and all the family. Rest easy and in peace Beastie, your name will forever be associated with Leeds Blues Club.