Tributes paid to Sheffield 'folk master' who pioneered city's music scene

Tributes have been paid to a Sheffield singer and musician who is credited with leading the city’s renowned folk revival for almost 60 years.

Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 2:32 pm

Gerry Bates died aged 78 on November 21 after suffering with dementia for the past few years.

He dedicated his life to folk music in Sheffield, and made his name as a multi-talented singer, musician, dancer, dance caller and the founder of the Sheffield Folk Train.

Gerry’s friend of 53 years and fellow folk music enthusiast Pete Smith has paid tribute to him, describing him as a ‘folk master’.

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Gerry Bates was 'central' to the Sheffield folk scene

He said: “my very dear friend Gerry was absolutely central to the Sheffield folk scene, being a pioneer of the folk revival in this area.

“A lifelong member of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, he was involved with most of the local folk clubs from the early 60s through to the 90s.

"He was responsible for starting one of the early folk clubs at The Queens Hotel, Scotland St, with brother Paul and Pete Civico, the Traditional Club at the Grapes, Trippet Lane, and later the Hefts and Blades club, at the Highcliffe and Brincliffe Oaks.

"The club was one of the first to move away from purely song which had dominated the city for over two decades to a song and dance club.

Gerry Bates was 'central' to the Sheffield folk scene

“Gerry was a competent musician and played in local bands around the South Yorkshire area and played for the Sheffield City Morris team. He was an excellent dancer with Sheffield University Morris (60s -70s), Sheffield City Morris (1976 – 2020) and the Grenoside Sword Dancers (1972-2020) and was the joint captain.

"He also became central to the development of the Sheffield Giants which were commissioned and presented to the city after the Student Games in 1992.

“But of all his many talents it is his singing I will miss most. He had a fine baritone voice and a large repertoire of mainly traditional chorus songs which all could join in with.

"For the local scene he is irreplaceable and all our thoughts go out to his wife Judith, son Joe and daughter Emily. Rest in peace lovely man!”