Brian Pern 1951-2017

The Velvet Onion is saddened to report the death of prog-rock legend Brian Pern, following an unexpected segway mistake.



The singer was the frontman of 70s legends Thotch, whose hits included Onion Divorce, Worm EquinoxRock the Nation and enormous festive hit In Dulci Yuletide, before forging his own successful solo career in the 1980s.

After inventing world music, Brian had an enormous hit with Spirit Level featuring proto-rapper Captain Cupnutz, and recorded his own Christmas classic, I Wish I Was at Home with My Missus. He later became a hugely influential figure on the burgeoning Madchester scene, working with seminal producer Luke Dunmore to front the band Stoned the Crows whose hit Maracca Man is pretty much the only reason that The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and Oasis could ever afford to leave Manchester.

In recent years, Brian had been working closely with comedian turned award winning documentary film-maker Rhys Thomas (OBE, Self Proclaimed), on a series of documentaries – The Life of Rock with Brian PernBrian Pern: A Life in Rock and Roll and Brian Pern: 45 Years of Prog and Roll. All of these are available on dvd and blu-ray now, and The Velvet Onion was even granted a rare interview from the man himself to promote the second series, which you can revisit over yonder.

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Unfortunately, just a few years after Brian not only fulfilled his dreams of staging his long-awaited musical adaptation of The Day of the Triffids (featuring Sir Roger Moore), but reunited with his Thotch bandmates once more, his life has come to an untimely end. TVO would like to extend our thoughts and best wishes to his family and friends, and especially to Rhys Thomas, who had begun to look upon Pern as a c̶a̶s̶h̶ ̶c̶o̶w̶  secondary father figure.

To commemorate Brian’s life, BBC Four will broadcast a special documentary dedicated to the musician, celebrating his life and work.

 The one-off special, Brian Pern: A Tribute, will once more be directed by Thomas, who will talk exclusively to Brian’s friends and family as well as any random celebrities he can get hold of at such short notice.
© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Rhys Thomas OBE says: “I am absolutely devastated that the documentary I was making about Brian’s future has now become a tribute following the terrible news. We have lost one of the greatest Brians in rock music. I am still in shock and will send him off in style in this programme.”

Understandably, tributes from BBC bods involved in the documentary have come pouring in.

Shane Allen, Controller, Comedy Commissioning said: “This programme marks the tragic end of a once great musical pioneer. We will never forget you Barry Pern.”

Chris Sussman, Head of Comedy, BBC Studios added: “I was very sorry to hear of the sad passing of Brian Pern – but I’m pleased we’re able to honour his memory with a star-studded BBC Four special, just as he would have wanted.”

Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four stated: “Brian Pern has been one of the biggest rock stars to feature on BBC Four – and BBC Four is famous the world over for its outstanding rock star biopics. This one for Brian will be up there with the best of them. God rest his soul.”

The special will be broadcast on BBC Four later this year. Celebrities currently lined up to appear include Brian Pern lookalike Simon Day, Michael Kitchen, Paul Whitehouse and Nigel Havers.

Brian: this one’s for you…

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