Alan Grindley, who has died aged 72, was much more than the local Marlborough personality he became. He was a musician, composer, oenophile, bon viveur, film-maker and a lot more.
Andover, his birthplace, was a throbbing heart of the popular music scene in the early 60s. The place vibrated with the sound of teenage talent. In the footsteps of Lonnie Donegan, Alan formed a skiffle group with his school friends, Chris Britton and Chris Penfound.
Three other bands followed: Men Friday (with future top racing trainer, Richard Hannon on drums), The Loots and Ten Feet Five with Dave Wright and Pete Staples. It was this band that formed the basis of the Troglodytes, which later as The Troggs became a band of huge hits.
Alan had left the band before its golden disc era. He had married a bright and beautiful young professional dancer, Chrissie Eyles, who was already working in television production. Feeling a need to earn a proper living, with a wife and a baby daughter, Krista, he started a wine merchants business, with a wine bar and shop in Guildford and shops in Winchester and Richmond.
He did, however, maintain contact with his old pop star pals to the end – as a session musician, even appearing with them at the London Palladium. A notice on the Troggs fans’ website laments his passing.
The wine business became more difficult as the supermarkets became more aware of wine’s potential, so Alan joined his wife in the television business. There followed a series of celebrity-based documentaries for numerous channels, involving, amongst others, Roger Daltry, Frankie goes to Hollywood, Bucks Fizz and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd.
He made a seven-part series detailing a coast-to-coast journey across Canada with the DJ David Jensen and Hitting across the Line – the official life story of Sir Viv Richards, which was shown world-wide.
In the early 1990s, Alan and Chrissie split, although they never divorced.
Back in Andover, he founded his band Still Crazy with other ex-Troggs. It was a wow in successive years at the Marlborough Jazz Festival.
He also founded Town TV, one of the first cable TV Channels in the UK. Amongst his ventures was full coverage of the Marlborough International Jazz Festival. Later he covered the visit of HRH Prince Charles as part of the town’s 800 year anniversary celebrations. These visits strongly influenced his decision to move to Marlborough with his partner, the Canadian communicator and diplomat, Debra Davis, who he had met at an arts reception at Canada House.
Their plans to set up a local TV network in Birmingham came close to fruition when they obtained the much sought-after licence, but lack of funding prevented this milestone project.
Severely injured when hit by a car while crossing the road in Birmingham, Alan nevertheless made it back to Marlborough despite having a broken neck. A series of operations followed which left him severely disabled.
Yet his public cheerfulness never faltered and he was a treasured companion to the last. Two of the surviving Troggs will gather with his family and friends at St. Mary’s Church on December 12 (at 12 noon) to pay tribute to this great character. Alan’s own composition, Remember Me will be played. Those who knew him always will.
[Photos courtesy Debra Davis]