I’m sad to say that Barry Riddington passed away on March 7. Barry (with Malcolm Holmes and a third partner) was the driving force behind HTD Records in the 90s, which morphed into Talking Elephant Records – a happy home for many old-school British folk and rock musicians making new music, along with licensed in reissues of music in that vein.
Barry and Malcolm were like the Blues Brothers of the Home Counties: well-mannered grammar school boys in leather jackets and cowboy hats, happy to sign up morris dancers and people who used to be in Caravan, or Fairport, or that sort of thing. They were on a mission from God – to save 70s rock.
Barry was as self-deprecating as the day is long, and he and Malcolm had sort of bumbled into the music game and made mistakes along the way, but Barry was no fool – more than once he picked himself and his label off the floor and turned it around. More importantly, he was a wonderful human being – he was a generous man and a great friend to anyone who knew him, and the world is a poorer place without him. He’d been unwell for a while but only found out very recently that he had inoperable cancer. The end came within weeks.
I only met him a few times, but we had lots of laughs on the phone. I admired what he stood for and the way he went about life.
I reviewed many of his releases in the past and interviewed him back in 1996 for a couple of features. I’ll attach one in the comments.
Bazza once told me that the first time he nearly lost his shirt in the music business he was saved by the Groundhogs, of all things – Tony McPhee allowed him to put out a live set Barry had recorded for fun, and sales were enough to keep the wolves at bay.
Plenty of people may have called Barry an ‘eccentric man’, just like Tony (though in a different way – Barry was the day to Tony’s night), but he was one of the best. ‘Eccentric Man’ by the Hogs seems a fitting epitaph.