Our tribute to our friend and veteran music promoter Barry Middleton who died on Saturday April 25, at his home just four days before his 68th birthday.
Barry Middleton, known personally by many musicians and music lovers in Nottingham, Shropshire and beyond in addition he had a profound impact on people who came to listen to the music he was putting on regularly at venues that included the legendary Running Horse in Nottingham. On a personal note Barry gave me the encouragement to keep photographing, to set up my blog and always had a friendly and insightful viewpoint.
This impact that Barry has had on the world of British Blues is the very reason he was awarded a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’. His first Public House was The Station Hotel, Ironbridge and started to promote live Blues music in 1974. The Ironbridge Blues Club, was founded by Barry and still playing the music he loved to hear, his most successful venue in Shropshire was The Duke at The Station in 1990. A year later he moved to Nottingham to run the ‘The Running Horse’, a small venue that continually put on top bands that for many will still be the gig of the year or even their lifetime. When Barry retired from the Running Horse, the horse subsided to a gentle trot since it had lost the energy and commitment that he had given every venue and event he had ever been involved in. Retirement was not Barry withdrawing from the scene, he was co-founder of the Nottingham Blues Society and then in 2009 he was founder member of the committee behind the British Blues Awards. The British Blues Awards has been a project that received praise, many brick-bats and people who know how to do it better, did this deter Barry and the rest of the committee… no way; with Barry’s guidance they kept on going and the awards now receive tens of thousands of votes and the results are eagerly awaited by music fans and the musicians themselves across the genre. Another shining example of how Barry got things done with his determination, stubbornness and belief in whatever venture he was undertaking.
The number of testimonials and responses on the internet following the announcement of his death, the outpourings of genuine grief and memories were fulsome from an impressive number of bands and individuals whose musical career Barry had touched. Everyone will have their own memory, special gig and the advice that Barry was always willing to share realistic advice for anyone who wished to be involved in promotion, setting up a club. If you mentioned a band he always had an opinion ready to share and a clear reason why he thought the artist in questions was good, bad or indifferent.
Barry Middleton, a loyal friend, music lover and above all we will always think of you and raise a glass when we hear one of the plethora of musicians and bands you introduced us to at the many music venues Barry ran.
Barry, you will be missed by many and the music scene in Britain is poorer without your knowledge, insights and willingness to share, Bluesdoodles will continue to doodle about music in your name, a true man of music has left this mortal coil and thank you for your many kindnesses.