A tribute to Americana UK writer Gordon Sharpe

It’s with great sadness that we have to let you know that one of Americana UK’s stalwarts Gordon Sharpe died on Sunday following a stroke last week. Gordon has been one of the website’s most prominent writers since he joined us in 2019, with over 100 reviews and feature articles published over the last three years.

For me as an Editor, he was just a delight to work with – he would put everything into his reviews, really researching them and not submitting until he felt he’d done something justice. It’s fair to say he knew what he liked (and didn’t like!) but followed AUK’s ethos of compassionate honesty down to a tee. He had a genuine love for the americana genre in the widest sense which came out in his writing on artists such as James McMurtry, Grateful Dead and Randy Newman. Most recently he was working on a review of a project around slavery and emancipation – it was just an album review sent out but because there was an accompanying book and film, he said he really wanted to delve into it and liaised with AUK’s Books Editor Rick Bayles and I on working it into a proper feature – he was just that kind of writer really, passionate and committed to AUK.

As a group of writers who are scattered around the four corners of the country and beyond, we try to get away each year to meet each other in person – Covid put pay to that last year but in 2020 a few of us were fortunate enough to meet Gordon on a rainswept weekend in Clitheroe where he was extremely funny and engaging. On a personal level when my own mum died last year, even though I had only met Gordon once, he sent me a really thoughtful card, and we often emailed about the ups and down of stuff going on in our home lives.

Gordon rifling through CDs and books at a bookshop in Sedbergh in his element

Martin Johnson, AUK Interviews Editor commented: “Gordon was always willing to defend his heartfelt views no matter what others said. A sign of genuine honesty and integrity, which he applied beyond the world of music” while Clint West, AUK Features Editor noted: “Gordon was always straight with you but also very warm and respectful. He was an excellent writer with a true passion. He made my job as Features Editor much easier because whenever there was a gap in the schedules or a piece was needed at short notice, invariably Gordon would be the first to volunteer. On several occasions he submitted unsolicited articles just because he loved doing them and would say “keep it in reserve Clint – for when you need it”. I remember once sharing hitch-hiking stories with him from our respective youths. He told me some brilliant tales and was very funny.” Rick Bayles, AUK Books Editor commented: “I worked a lot with Gordon because he was a regular contributor to Book Reviews, something he was very passionate about, and he would also contribute to some of the feature series I’ve come up with in the past. I edited his Paperback Riders series, not that they ever needed much editing, and it was turning into a series of very insightful writing about a very eclectic, but always fascinating, selection of writings. We’d often exchange thoughts on a variety of things via emails and messages and I had long looked forward to the time when we might actually meet in person.” 

You can read Gordon’s Americana UK writing here – we will be publishing his final article next week. All our love and thoughts go out to Gordon’s family. He’ll be sorely missed by all of us here at AUK.

Gordon’s family have asked for any donations from readers to be made please to Stroke Association UK or the RNLI.

With thanks to Gordon’s daughter Hannah for the photos.


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About Mark Whitfield 1784 Articles
Mark Whitfield has been Editor of Americana UK for the last 20 years while also working in public health as his day job, which has been kind of busy recently.

14 Comments

  1. Very sad news, condolences to his family and colleagues. His reviews always made for enjoyable insightful reading

  2. Such sad news, condolences to his loved ones. A reminder to all (me at least…) grab life whilst you can as you don’t know what is around the corner.

  3. Saddened to hear this news.
    I alwaysenjoyed Gordon’s submisions and felt a particular affinity with him following his Grateful Dead – A Night To Remember article.
    He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.

  4. A friend I have known for some years now;a man of honesty and integrity and I will miss him enormously. There’s a hole in my life where he used to be.

  5. Thank you for the lovely tribute to Dad, AUK. He not only enjoyed the music but also the fantastic community surrounding it.

  6. Gordon was a good friend and introduced me to the Americana web site. We often spoke about the articles he was working on and, as mentioned above, he put enormous effort on getting the detail correct. He introduced me to musicians and bands I’d never heard of. We will remember him with love and affection

  7. Gordon was a great and generous friend. With his unique combination of uncompromising sincerity and good humour he was always truly his own man. I just reread some of his splendid pieces for AUK including one on acoustic guitarists. He mentions a friend who says his favourite Robbie Basho track features the great man singing and playing piano. Interesting, I thought, but only after scanning some old emails between us did I realize the friend was me. Haha, thanks for everything Gordon! See you down the road mate.

  8. Gordon is my dearly loved brother a clever and articulate man, I thank all for their words on here. As you rightly say he will be missed and very much leaves a gap in my life. Jen x

    • My heart goes out to you for your loss Jen. In my early days at AUK, Gordon was the first to offer me advice, encouragement and ultimately belief that I could become a half decent writer, and I will always be indebted for his support.

  9. Amazing the extent to which you ‘got’ Gordon, my husband, here at AUK. He was never one for the limelight but he would have really loved the appreciation you’ve all shown. And the floral tribute, a keeper if week 3 is anything to go by. He always knew what I’d like and two favourite moments were seeing Charley Crockett (Americana even?) and Slaid Cleaves with him. Hannah and I now have his beloved book and CD collection, all in perfect alphabetical order, of course. We intend to slowly work our way through them, no doubt without liking every single one. Maybe your future articles will educate us further.

    • So glad the guitar is still going strong Sue, and so glad you got to share some great music with him too. He will live on in the site for years to come through both the impact he had on people and sections such as Paperback Riders which he brought to life and which we will continue with in one form or another. Please do stay in touch, you and Hannah are very welcome round these parts x

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