He leaves us with what he was trying to tell us all along… that life is precious, life is short, transient and unpredictable and we must live it to the full and remember what matters most.
We first met 7 years ago at a music conference in Bristol. Standing outside wondering if I wanted to stay to hear any more dry business advice, I found a kindred soul, a rebel, someone with genuine passion for music. Wasn’t it time I made a new record? “I can’t… until I recoup on the last record”. I said.“You will”, he said “When your Soul decides it is time…” He was a lot about soul. A lot about gratitude, and the mysteries of life.
Then he started coming over to the gigs here in Box. He treasured things when I had forgotten to do so. The friends and the music in our world and what an honour it was to be a part of it. One day in late 2016 I ran out of the studio at Real World just as he arrived. He got out of his car and I sort of collapsed into a hug with a slightly hysterical “I’ve just finished my album!!”. It had taken a year. A hard year. He often mentioned that moment. He was glad he had been there. I was glad he had been there. Because I knew, that HE knew what that meant to me. He was overjoyed when my beloved and I got back together. “Love wins!” he said. He knew how much that meant to me too.
There was a mad trip to see a gig at The Convent which ended up with all the fire alarms going off. A bunch of us in his red car with All About Eve (one of my favourite bands in my student days) blasting out of the car stereo. A photo I posted when I got to Tallinn on a family holiday on which he commented “I know there!” because his girlfriend was Estonian. I didn’t see him often but when I did we ended up in deep and meaningful conversations about life, the universe and everything. As well as the insane hilarity, he often said just what I needed to hear at that moment.
The last time I saw him was at a small intimate concert in the Wood Room at Real World Studios. My friend Brent Jones asked if I would take part in the launch of his beautiful album “Coincidence Makes a Miracle” and it had occurred to me that Paul would resonate with Brent’s songs and so I invited him. Afterwards Paul told me he was so thankful that I had… because it was exactly what he needed. He had some tests coming up and his health was not good. That was on the 1st of November. I sang a new song of mine that night called ‘Precious Time’. How poignant that seems now.
“Be the rock star, live the rock star” was one of his catchphrases. He did. And when he went, it was fast. Too soon to say goodbye. “He wouldn’t want me not to do the gig” I said the day I found out he’d only been given 48 hours to live… So I did it. And then he was gone.
‘I don’t want a world without him in it’, I wrote that night.
He died at the darkest hour and the day before the January full moon we gathered to say our farewells. A room full of musos and misfits. Magic in the air. Candles that burned strong all day. Music and stories. Spiritual comfort and plenty of swearing. We sobbed as he was carried out to “You are Amazing’ in a handmade coffin decorated like the cover of ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’, and laughed at his cheeky photos on the big screen. It couldn’t have been a more fitting tribute. He touched many lives that beautiful Maverick of a man. I will miss him. I already do.
The world is full of light and dark, and so are we. Let’s take care of each other.
Life is precious, life is short, transient and unpredictable and we must live it to the full and remember what matters most.
R.I.P. Paul Whitrow Age 53 (Producer, mixing engineer and musician. Bristol,UK)
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