Jim Percy 1952-2010
It is with a heavy heart that I make this post, but I wanted to pay tribute to the man who gave me my first job as a professional musician. Sadly, Jim Percy died suddenly after collapsing at his home in Doncaster on Sunday, and is survived by wife Cheryl and sons James and Adam. I spent a wonderful two years touring Scandinavia with Jim and Cheryl, as part of the band APOLLO. During that time, we lived virtually in each others pockets, so even when I left the band to form Tubeless Hearts in 1981, I always kept in touch with them both. Jim was cocky, self-assured, and the only muso I know who could outplay the agents at their own game. He also had a wicked sense of humour. He had honed his skills as a top class percussionist with the Coldstream guards, and along with his abilities, he also inherited from them a host of army stories that were beyond hilarious. Many, many evenings we would be crying with laughter into the wee small hours as he told tales of horses headbutting clarinets into players’ mouths, thunderous avalanches of Oranges on timpani at the Guards’ Harvest festival performance at the Royal Albert Hall, or the settling of inter-barrack grudges by the painful “plastic mugs at dawn” duels.
I remember him negotiating for a month residency, quoting our fee, perhaps 40,000 krone – and the hotel manager saying; “30,000” to which Jim would reply: 50,000! The guy would look confused, saying “but I thought you said your fee was 40,000” To which Jim said, “exactly, so stop offering me less!”
Jim’s influence on my career cannot underestimated. He gave me confidence as a performer, and two years worth of solid, well-paid work that certainly had the effect that I have continued to be a pro musician for a further 30 years.
He had a great aversion to the cheap Eastern bloc bands undercutting us and taking our work, and once , we arrived at a residency a day early and caught some Czech band performing a painfully bad version of ‘Physical’ by Olivia Newton John. It really set Jim off, seeing them murder what was already a bad song, and getting a gig because they were so cheap. So the following night, when we began our stint there, before we had even played a note, he announced;
“Good evening, we’re Apollo from England, and if anybody wants to get ‘physical’, come over here and I’ll knee them in the nuts!”
Rest in peace, Jim – You were one of a kind, and they’ll never make another one.