Thursday, July 3, 2008

Former Trapeze/Whitesnake Guitarist Mel Galley RIP

Mel Galley, guitarist of Trapeze and Whitesnake, has lost his battle with cancer of the esophagus. The Midlands-born musician was a member of Finders Seekers with bassist Glenn Hughes, and together they co-founded Trapeze in 1969. He had just turned 60 years old.

When Hughes reluctantly accepted an offer to join Deep Purple, a far bigger band, in 1973, Trapeze continued with Pete Goalby (later of Uriah Heep) on vocals. Along with brother Tom, Galley helped to guide the Phenomena project, which featured the likes of Cozy Powell, Neil Murray, Budgie’s John Thomas and current Deep Purple keyboard player Don Airey, before accepting an offer from David Coverdale to join Whitesnake. Though he toured with the band and played on 1984’s Slide It In album, a freak arm injury seemed to have curtailed Galley’s career. However, with the help of a specially developed spring and wire device that was fitted to his hand, affectionately called ‘The Claw’, he was able to bypass the problematic nerve endings.

In 1986 he formed MGM with fellow ex-Whitesnake alumni Bernie Marsden and Neil Murray, then worked on another Phenomena record.

However, after a 1991 Trapeze reunion that featured Hughes and drummer Dave Holland, by then a star in his own right with Judas Priest, plus Geoffrey Downes of Asia on keyboards, Galley elected to retire from performing.

After a well-publicized fracas with a stalker – curtailed when Galley confronted the individual on the latter’s doorstep – he had just begun playing music again when his illness was diagnosed.
In February, Galley announced that he was dying of cancer. Bravely, instead of wallowing in self-pity he made the most of the time he had left. “I have been very lucky,” he wrote at his MySpace site. “I have seen some great bands, played with many great musicians and enjoyed some tremendous experiences. I am thankful that I can say a proper goodbye to all the friends I have made, who are now rallying round me.”

Even as his condition worsened, Galley continued to post encouraging, amusing updates. When he was no longer able to go to the pub, “now the pub [comes] to me,” he joked. “Friends visit me each day, I have drugs in me 24/7, and I have a plentiful supply of gin and tonic by my bedside. I even have my own ice machine! In fact it’s just like my Whitesnake days.”

“What grace and dignity indeed, marvels Glenn Hughes.

During Whitesnake’s recently completed European tour, David Coverdale dedicated Love Ain’t No Stranger, a song he co-wrote with Mel for the Slide It In album, to Galley on a nightly basis.
“Melville, your legacy is in safe hands with me,” sums up Hughes, Galley’s childhood friend, adding: “I’ll see you in the Garden one day, and truly recognize you as my brother...”

We offer our sincerest condolences to Mel's family and friends at this time....

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