Subject: Fish 2004 - Keith Goodwin
Last Sunday on the 25th January the wind blew cold and long across the island of Malta. On this bleak, rainy morning at around 6.30 am Keith Goodwin passed away. Ironically that date is also the birthday of Robert Burns, Scotlands most acclaimed poet. The weather was appropriate. That night I had dinner with his wife Pat, his son Darius and his wife Jeanette, their daughter Emma and my girlfriend Tanya; who had accompanied me on a weeks holiday to an island that had been introduced to me by Keith way back in the early 80s when we first became such close friends. After dinner and what could only be described as a wake Pat and I dabbled with enormous respect amongst Keiths immense collection of cds (all properly alphabeticised Spocks Beard/Spooky Tooth, Magma/Marillion/ Missing Persons/Joni Mitchell) which traversed vast ranges of styles ( he had the largest collection of Jazz works I have ever seen) in an attempt to come up with a short musical precise of Keiths intense and passionate love of music for the memorial service held last Friday. A bottle of Glenfiddich and 3 hours later the task was as impossible as it had first seemed. How do you encompass a range of artists he loved and worked with as diverse as Dusty Springfield/ Stan Kenton/ Vangelis/ Yes/ Black Sabbath and of course Marillion through whom Keith had become one of my best friends, a spiritual guide, a mentor, a teacher and someone whom without which I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that I would not have become the artist or the person I am today.
Pippa Lang, a freelance journalist who had taken a shine to the band, introduced me to Keith back in the summer of 81. We were gigging regularly but needed the press to get behind us, promote the shows and report the growing momentum we were creating as we zapped around building a live reputation. I met him in the old Kaygee offices in Oxford Street on a day that deserved air conditioning. I walked in full of bravado and bullshit and tried to be cool in the face of various Yes gold albums glistening on the walls. I knew nothing. He knew the world and the music business I was aspiring to become a member of. He agreed to take us on and began the assault on the media that would give us our first reviews at the Marquee and the first interviews in the Sounds weekly magazine with a young Phil Bell.
His contacts were invaluable and he used our residency in 82 in the Marquee Club in Wardour Street to great effect. As well as the professional relationship we also became great friends and I spent many a weekend at their house near Brey where Pat would wash my stage clothes, cook me Sunday lunches and pamper me like a son while Keith would stay up with me late in the night smoking ancient grass, drinking wine and playing me Blood, Sweat and Tears/ If/Spooky Tooth/ The Beach Boys/Coliseum/ Yes bootlegs and so many other artists he thought I should hear as part of my education. In between I would build Lego houses with their 3 year old daughter Kelly and humble their 7 year old son Darius at football on the lawn that banked down on to the Thames at Monkey Island. The Goodwins became my second family. I was adopted and also became a "Godfather" to the kids.
Over the years Keith and Pat saw me through the sparks and flames of romances, the trials and tribulations of fame and the growth of a boy into a man. In the mid 80s Keith became increasingly ill and then chose to retire with his family to Malta. With EMI taking more control his position as our press agent had become increasingly less effective although as personal friends we had become stronger. I felt a strong sense of loss when powers suggested he should retire and soon after a major hospitalisation when he moved out of the UK with Pat and the family I honestly felt I was missing a right hand. He was disillusioned with the music industry and although he had been a major figure in the rebirth of Progressive rock in the 80s his roster was decreasing and the new boys on the block were not responding to his passion that has turned so many ears and eyes for Marillion.
We stayed in touch and I visited the island of Malta in the middle of my litigation with EMI Records in 1989. I needed to talk to him. I was also in the middle of my first marital break up and I needed to be with family. I have returned there so many times both professionally and personally, two solo shows and one SAS show, and developed a relationship with fans there that I could never have envisaged without Keiths help and profile building on the island through the many contacts he had built there. He was as respected a man there as he was in London.
His health however continued to deteriorate. Various heart attacks, small strokes and general illnesses took their toll and I received a card shortly before Christmas from Pat telling me that it was bad.
I had already decided to take a break before rehearsals and with Keith always moaning about not getting sent new albums I decided to deliver Field of Crows! Personally. I saw him on the Wednesday hours after we arrived. He hadnt talked to anyone for a week and was confined to a couch or wheelchair. His quality of life had deteriorated so much it was painful to watch. I handed the album over like a schoolboy handing exam papers over to his teacher. I had played him Zoo Class and he had tapped his foot away in gay abandon while drumming his fingers on the couch and smiling like an idiot. I left him to hear the album alone and next day got an SMS from Pat saying he thought it was my finest solo album ever! I was so proud! We went out for a rare and difficult lunch ( he made a tremendous effort to be there) and over the next few meetings I had him laughing and whining like old times. I saw him for the last time on Friday. He was in a great mood. An interview (which he had set up!) with Radio Malta gave me a chance to show him live on air how I honestly felt about him. It never came close to how I really felt or how much I was owed this man.
On Sunday when I received the call from Darius I howled like a dog. Because of rehearsal and film commitments it was impossible for me to be at the memorial service on Friday and so with the help of local artist Ozzy Lino I recorded a eulogy on the Tuesday early morning before I returned home. I sat two nights ago night, downed a slop of whisky, played Yessongs really loud and cried my eyes out. It was only a band-aid!
There are some people who enter your life as shadows and clouds and others who enter as searing light. Keith Goodwin was a blinding and all encompassing fire. I will miss him like a father.
There are so many stories, so many tales, so many smiles and outrageous laughter, so many nights where I sat wide eyed and legless in wonder at his knowledge and his love for an industry that is a parody of what it once was. He hated and was disgusted by the changes in the business and I think relieved at the thought that he wasnt part of the corporate manifestation we live with today. Keith was old school. He was part of an industry that only now lives in memory. He loved the only thing that drives true artists on through any diversity. Music! There are so many artists out there who would not have received even the slightest acknowledgement or encouragement in their careers without the voice of passion and belief that was Keith Goodwins. Some of us came through; others disappeared in a blaze of obscurity. Keiths integrity was never however questioned.
His CV will appear in far greater detail than I could ever write here. I can only testify to his massive involvement in my career and my personal life. I owe hin everything.
I will miss him forever. He was one of the very few people who I could honestly and whole-heartedly call a best friend. My heart goes out to Pat, Darius and Kelly who are like my second family. Malta will never be the same again.
And on a day when some drink to a Scottish poet another will raise a glass to a sadly lost friend on a day that will forever be cold and rainswept, to a man I dearly loved. Keith Goodwin. 25/04/2004 Slainthe Mhath!!!!!
Email 1st February 2004