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