Tributes after death of highly-respected Sheffield musician Peter Childs

Peter Childs in the 1960s
Peter Childs in the 1960s
Have your say

A highly-respected Sheffield musician who was a contemporary of Joe Cocker and taught hundreds of people how to play the guitar has died at the age of 72.

Peter Childs helped form Peter York and The Pontiacs in the 1960s, with the group regularly selling out the City Hall and touring the North of England.

Peter Childs with wife Anne

Peter Childs with wife Anne

He died on Monday, August 3, following medical complications involving a blood clot.

His son David said his father often reminisced about the fact Joe Cocker had auditioned for the band – but was turned down.

The group was also offered the chance to be managed by Peter Stringfellow, but again rejected the opportunity.

Peter, who was born in High Green and lived in Chapeltown for most of his life, was still performing live right up to his death, with his last group called Young Once.

Peter Childs

Peter Childs

He was also a respected guitar teacher, with his former pupils including acclaimed classical guitarist Simon Dinnigan, as well as members of many current Sheffield bands.

In his personal life, David married wife Anne in 1969 and the pair lived for most of their lives in Chapeltown, going on to have three children and nine grandchildren.

The pair were married for more than 40 years, and Anne died just after last Christmas.

Peter’s lifelong love of music started when he was 14 and he bought his first guitar, teaching himself to play by listening to the likes of Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry.

Peter Childs in the 1990s

Peter Childs in the 1990s

The former Ecclesfield Grammar School pupil left school with 12 O-levels and joined his father Bill working at Parramore’s Iron Foundry in Chapeltown.

He founded his first group, Pete York and The Pontiacs, in 1961, with him playing lead guitar.

David said: “They played with many of the local groups throughout Yorkshire and Lancashire, gaining a great reputation.

“My father often used to remind us that Peter Stringfellow wanted to manage them and Joe Cocker had auditions for the band but was unsuccessful. He would joke saying: ‘Just look where they are now.’”

Peter Childs in the Mayfair Boys

Peter Childs in the Mayfair Boys

After leaving the Pontiacs in the mid-1960s, Peter formed a band with a work colleague and singer called Henry Parrot, with the duo performing as The Mayfair Boys. They performed on the club circuit into the 1970s and Peter decided to become a full-time musician. He started working as a guitar teacher in the 1980s and later studied Jazz and Contemporary Music at Leeds College of Music, graduating in 1992.

David said his father was happy to learn more about music despite his decades of experience.

He said: “It wasn’t until he got into teaching that he realised he needed to look at it as an academic study.”

David, who is also a music teacher, said his father had been an inspiration to many young musicians.

“Over the years he has done thousands of gigs and taught hundreds of people privately and in schools and colleges how to play the guitar along with the rudiments of music theory,” he said.

“Members from present Sheffield local bands like The Ratells, Feral Brood, Jackson Caged, Adelphi and Downtown Roots plus many more have had lessons with my dad.

“He devoted his life to the study of music, teaching others and actively performed right to the end of his life.”

David said since the news of his father’s death, many tributes have been paid to him by people who were taught by him.

Peter’s funeral will take place on at Grenoside Crematorium on Tuesday, August 18 at 11.45am. Donations will be welcomed for the NSPCC.