The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #36669   Message #2906225
Posted By: GUEST,Bob Rowley
13-May-10 - 02:48 PM
Thread Name: Anyone know of Tom Yates
Subject: RE: Anyone know of Tom Yates
Tommy called me on the Friday, to say that if I wanted to come over to say "goodbye", I should do it now. I went straight over and he passed away late Sunday afternoon. Tommy died of bone Leukemia in Antwerp in Belgium about 13 years ago. It took him a year to die and I saw him a couple of times a week during that time. I both paid for and helped the stonemason to make his tombstone and I was one of the six men it took to lift that rough cut celtic cross and to place it on his grave. The grave is no longer there now. Flemish Belgians have seen a lot of this work in the last ninety years and so they only give a grave ten years or so to do it's job.
I would like to say to everyone that Tommy Yates did not just die, he faced the certainty of his own death with the greatest courage I have ever seen in a normal person. Tommy Yates was the bravest and also one of the funniest men I ever knew. He was also a very accurate, if sometimes wickedly comical judge of character, or the lack of it. I guess many people are still wondering about him?
For all of his friends in these pages, I can fill in some of the missing time detais about some of his movements. I first met Tom via Ian Jentle, another great folk singer of that time, two weeks before Tom got married to Cindy in London, around 1970. He invited me to the do and we got to be great frieds. Tom and Cindy moved back North to Disley a few years later when they got a nice council cottage in Bentside Road. Cindy probably still lives there? They had two children Elu and Christie. Tommy did the usual pub folk gigs and also guitar teaching to help pay the bills. He also made a couple of his albums during this period too. I was in the studio for one of them. By 1980 however, things had got on top of Tom so he decided to go on the road. He joined with a group of my friends and me and we all went out to Antwerp, where the busking was a plenty and the bars never close. I did a full seven years in that wild art and music scene before I met my now Belgian wife. Tom came to our wedding and sang a song along with all the other buskers. He was royal and well respected in that scene. By then, his first marriage to Cindy was over and Tommy had taken up with a fine Belgian girl called Sonia. He was this ugly little crippled bloke who looked and laughed like an elf, but he was always covered in beautiful women?
Anyway, he settled down a lot with Sonia and started to get into writing, politics and finally they both became devout Christians.
I used to see hime from time to time and we would go to each others gigs and sometimes drink together. Then, around 1996 he called me to say he had been diagnosed with bone marrow Lukemia. We all did what we could, but Tommy's condition continued to slowly deteriorate.
For a little fellow who could hardly walk, Tommy Yates went very far. He could not be ignored and I think that he left his mark on everyone who ever met him. He was my spiritual brother and I salute him. I still do two of his songs (Rumours & Life Ahead) when I play to a British audience. Contact me on if you want the words and the tunes. I did put them out on the web at one time, so if you Google my name on Myspace or YouTube, they might still be there floating around in the ether?   
I also didn't know that Mary Asquith had died. Mary looked after me when I was just starting out in the old Stockport folk scene around 1968. These days I always think of her when I sing "Cane On the Brassos". Mary taught me that song and she used to sound like my Bonneville motorbike sounds today, when she did it. Bless her memory too. Hey it's Ascension Day today, and I've been getting ghosts coming through all bloody day!