Sheffield singer who had chart success with his wife dies aged 82

A singer who had chart success with his wife and starred in a popular Sheffield band in the 1950s and ‘60s has died aged 82.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 2:16 pm

Pitsmoor-born John Holland, whose stage name was Ryder, had a hit with his wife Anne called I Still Believe In Tomorrow in 1969, which spent 10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart.

He was also lead singer of The Whirlwinds, a popular Sheffield rock ‘n’ roll band in the 1950s and '60s, who also featured guitarists Dave Hawley – Richard Hawley’s father - and Frank White.

Father-of-two John, who lived in Meadowhead with Anne, died earlier this month from pneumonia after suffering from heart failure.

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John Ryder

Anne said: “Everybody loved John, what a lovely man. He was hard working, a perfectionist and would do anything for anybody. A caring, quiet man, who didn’t push himself.

"He picked me and I would have been a fool not to go after him.”

After leaving school to work as an apprentice engineering pattern maker, crafting wooden moulds for the steel industry, John got the music bug when he saw Tommy Steele performing.

He told Sheffield music history writer John Firminger: “Seeing him standing there with a guitar, I thought I could do that, so I went out and bought a guitar and went for lessons on Staniforth Road.”

John Ryder, far left, with The Whirlwinds

His son Bennett said: “When he was a teenager, skiffle and rock ‘n’ roll were becoming popular. Dad was a singer, but learned how to play guitar and was known as Johnny. He had a band called Johnny and the Night Riders.

"The band he will be remembered for is The Whirlwinds who played packed dates in Working Men’s Clubs in the 1950s. Mum went to see them one night and not too long after they got married.”

Anne added: “He told me he fell in love with me the first time he saw me. I fell for him a few weeks later and it was the best thing I did in my life.”

The first they knew of their chart success in 1969 was when their manager called them before a gig in Birmingham, which Cilla Black was at.

John & Anne Ryder promo poster from the ‘60s

"He told us to buy the Billboard newspaper because we had gone straight into the Hot 100,” said Anne. “We had done the song six months earlier and I couldn’t think which it was.

"Our manager said it was number one in Canada and number one in Memphis. I said ‘Stop messing me about’. He said ‘I’m not pulling your leg, it’s right’. We were introduced as the number one act and the crowd went wild.”

The couple also had a daughter Victoria and would take her with her brother to gigs in the 1970s. Bennett, now a successful professional musician, said: “I remember hearing their music from a young age and thinking I would like to do that. Dad was selfless, patient, caring, kind and loyal. He inspired me.”

John’s funeral will be at Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium on November 4 at 3.45pm.