In memoriam: Bill Steele, Roots & Galoots
I dedicated tonight’s Midnight Banquet (a feature on my Off The Chart Radio show) to Bill Steele, guitarist and singer in the Swansea-based bluegrass band Roots & Galoots. When they played in Pontardawe, I managed to collect a ‘100th gig’ celebratory keyring, which has remained on my bunch of keys ever since. I also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Bill and the band for the odd jam. He will be sadly missed by all.
Roland Emmanuel, fellow member of Roots & Galoots, posted this announcement on the UK Bluegrass website:
The untimely death has been announced of Bill Steele, guitarist and singer with the Welsh based bluegrass band, Roots & Galoots.
Bill had previously played with his brother-in-law, Bill Titley, on the UK bluegrass circuit and was a regular picker at Terry Holland’s sessions.
It was Terry who gave R & G their first big break with an invitation to play at the Wharf in 2006. Many other gigs followed including a memorable debut at Didmarton and we quickly became established on the festival scene. Together with Bill’s great friend, Paul Morgan, R & G developed into a tight unit paying close attention to 3 part harmony. This was to become a hallmark of the band’s set with Bill regularly taking the lead vocal.
A key player in organising the Gower Bluegrass Festival, more recently his input and support at the ‘Bluegrass at the Buck’ picking session has ensured its success in promoting the genre.
Bill lived for bluegrass music and last year, even with a debilitating illness, he was determined to play at the La Roche Festival in France. R & G’s performance was well received and this year we were invited back to play at the event. With flights booked and all arrangements made, Bill was really looking forward to the occasion and, in a sense, the invitation gave him the drive to overcome his illness and live to play another day. Sadly, this was not to be but the band will continue to play on in his memory.
Condolences have already been paid to his family, especially to his children – Faye, Kim and Hazel who have been dedicated in the support of their father.
Bill’s untimely passing has been a shock to many but the tributes paid to this gentleman of bluegrass will ensure that his spirit will continue to be celebrated by all of us who were privileged to know him and play with him.