Rachel Howells

Tributes paid to talented local musician Phil Ryan

12 July 2016

Tributes have been paid to legendary Port Talbot keyboardist, Phil Ryan, who died at his home in Denmark earlier this year.

Best known for playing with progressive rock band Man, former Sandfields Comprehensive pupil Ryan enjoyed a career that spanned almost five decades and saw him achieve success with bands such as Smokestacks, The Eyes of Blue, Piblokto and the Neutrons.

Ryan also collaborated with Pete Brown in later years, and he was hoping to record his fifth album later in 2016.

Friends and fellow musicians paid tribute to the “Sandfields boy who never lost his accent”.

Maybelline Breeze, a close friend who met Ryan on the south Wales live music scene in the 1960s, said: “He was one of the most talented all-round musicians I knew. He was not stuck in one genre, he was into jazz, classical, rock and progressive rock. I’m sure he’d like to be remembered as a musician, a committed musician. He even played trombone in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales.

“Above all he was so funny,” she added. “I always remember he would get out of the car after a gig on a Sunday, looking forward to going home so he could have a cold gravy sandwich. He always made us laugh.”

Though Ryan had moved to Denmark following his marriage to Danish actress Bolette Bernild, his family, including two children, are still based in Port Talbot.

Fellow Man-band member Deke Leonard said: “We may have lost one of the greatest keyboard virtuosos of all time but, worse, we have lost a much-loved friend.

“We are devastated and that’s not an exaggeration. Our deepest sympathies to Phil’s family. RIP brother.”

Pete Brown, who is best known for writing the lyrics for some of Cream’s biggest hits, said: “Phil was one of my very, very best and closest friends, an incredible musician with an incredible sense of miserable Welsh humour.”

Brown added that a celebration of Ryan’s life and music was planned for July, “with a lot of people who played with him”.

Brown said: “He really was a hell of a musician.”

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