William "Hammy" Howell (1954 - 1999)
Wennington pupil 1966 - 1973
Hammy developed his passion for blues and boogie-woogie at Wennington. It was here he got the nickname Hammy - a consequence of keeping hamsters (later, he kept rats ).
After school, in the seventies, he made contact with musicians in London and developed his style at a slick pace. He played for a while with a blues band, but found greater fame in his early twenties with the rock and roll band Darts - an exciting period, with gigs far and wide, Top Twenty hits and TV appearances.
After his mother's death in 1979, Hammy had the first of a series of breakdowns that were to dog him for the rest of his life. He carried on with music, developing his classical technique as well as blues. He taught from time to time, worked as a session musician and joined various bands - including Hoodoo Moon and the Beacon Band, the band of Beacon Quay House in Torquay, his last home.
Musicians Hammy played with rated highly his ability to play piano. He had a talent for both frenetic solos and fitting in with a band.
He was very attached to his friends and family, but he also had a strong need to be independent. When he died in January 1999 at the age of 45 ( from heart failure ) it became clear to all how many friends he had made in his life. He was deeply cared for and appreciated, not just for his massively entertaining skill with the piano, but for his warmth, his kindness, his humour and his big personality.
A memorial CD of some of Hammy (William) Howell's blues and boogie woogie music with various bands has been produced in a limited edition. A few copies are available at £10 incl p&p. For details on how to order contact Pat.