Two little words can make a big difference.
And I wish I'd said them to someone when I had the chance.
Back in the mid-90s, I was starting out on my own as a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter. I'd recorded a couple of tracks at Stable Studios in Aldbourne near Swindon.
I'd played all the instruments, but was no great shakes on the drums. So, I'd programmed them, and was going to stick with that.
One day, I got a call at work. It was Nick Beere, bandmate and producer from the studio. "Kev Wilkinson's in today, and he's said he'll put some drums down for you." As a Swindon-based drummer who'd played with The Waterboys, Squeeze, Fish and China Crisis, Kev was something of a local legend.
And what a talent. Neil Peart from Rush (not a bad drummer himself) said this about Kev: "What he plays is so elegant and right for the music… when he plays difficult patterns he plays with such authority that they just flow by smoothly." (Check out the original article here.)
"Go for it," I laughed.
Kev laid down the drums in my absence. That weekend, I was gigging with Nick. Before we set off, he called me to his car, whipped out a cassette, and said, "Listen to this." I was blown away. Fluid drum patterns and solid grooves flowed from the speakers.
"All done in a couple of takes," said Nick. I couldn't stop grinning. How could someone play so perfectly and quickly? And without any guidance from the songwriter?
"This is brilliant - please thank him for me," I said. Now, I'd have emailed Kev. But this was pre-mobile and home computer days.
A few months later, I went to a gig in Swindon. Nick was playing bass with Kev on drums. Being quite young and shy, I just couldn't find the courage to speak to Kev. I might have nodded to him from a distance.
A few years later, I heard Kev had taken his life.
To this day, I regret not stepping up and saying those two words: Thank you. It was a big lesson for me. If you have something to say, whether it's 'thanks' or 'I love you', don't delay. You might never have another chance.
So, thank you Kev - and thank you for reading about this wonderful man and musician. If you have any memories of Kev, whether you knew him personally or loved his music, please comment below.