Fitting farewell for Stuart Mey

Family, friends and fans enjoy a show of photos saluting the memory of Durban guitarist and show producer Stuart Mey.

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BY BILLY SUTER

DURBAN’S Stuart Mey, a former Northlands art and history teacher, who later turned musician and show producer, was given a fitting farewell last night when an estimated 300 friends, relatives, colleagues and fans gathered at Westville’s German Club.

The crowd, over drinks and snacks at tables in front of a covered bandstand, was there to pay respects, share memories and listen to musical tributes to the bearded local legend.

Mey, confined to a wheelchair in recent years, died on July 9 after having long suffered health problems. He was 64.

Noted as a singer, guitarist and sometime trumpeter, he was most recently known for being a key member of The Handsome Devils, a Durban band that performed at the German Club and elsewhere.

The Handsome Devils and guest vocalist Paul Cassells perform The Young Ones, opening last night’s musical tribute to Stuart Mey at the German Club in Westville, Durban.

Prior to that he was noted for performing and producing showband tributes to various artists – popular shows staged at Durban’s Dockyard Theatre, which he owned. The supper theatre first proved to be a crowd-puller at the Point Waterfront’s harbour entrance before it moved to Musgrave Centre, Durban, and subsequently closed.

Stuart was also a former member of the popular Larry and the Lounge Lizards and, before that, the bands Vacant Lot and Pegasus.

Raised in Durban North, he formed The Trumpet Federation at Durban High School in 1967 (he played trumpet in a group based on Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass way back then), and later moved on to vocals, guitar and bass with The Vacant Lot, also around 1967.

He formed Larry and the Lounge Lizards in 1989 in the late Ron Selby’s kitchen at the launch party of a Celtic Rumours album recorded in Ron’s Westville studio. He told me this in an interview for this site a few weeks before his passing (check out the full interview under MUSIC).

Stuart Mey’s daughters, Melissa (left) and Nicky, pay tribute to their dad and share happy memories.

“We were Durban’s equivalent to retro bands Vinnie & the Viscounts in Johannesburg, and Cape Town’s Late Final. The band ran for 14 years. We played at Shunter’s Arms, Father’s Moustache, Sand Pebbles and every top hotel in the country, while working the corporate market.,” he remarked during our interview.

Stuart told me that the first song he sang in public was The Young Ones, in 1962/3 at a church concert, with his father backing him on guitar.

It was fitting therefore, that longtime colleagues Bruce Boome, Ian Webtser, and Gerald Knott – all fellow members of The Handsome Devils – launched last night’s tribute with a rendition of that Cliff Richard and The Shadows hit, with Paul Cassells (a former Dockyard Theatre regular) on lead vocals.

A number of local musicians were invited thereafter to entertain and share memories of Stuart, among them a nine-year-old drummer and, before him, a 13-year-old guitarist who joined The Handsome Devils for renditions of Snowy White’s Parisian Walkways and Santana’s Europa.

Stuart’s daughters, Melissa and Nicky, took to the stage to give a fitting and loving tribute to their father, sharing anecdotes which included him often showing tell-tale signs of fatigue after shows… if he rubbed his right arm vigorously it meant he was likely to drift off, they recalled.

Stuart’s widow, Zoe, to whom he was married for 39 years, referred to him as “my darling boy”, and said she was grateful for the turnout, taking comfort in Stuart “being in a much better place”.

All those attending agreed he was a giant of a man, both as a family member, friend and colleague …and as a key component of the local music scene.

Thank you for the music, Stuart… and rest in peace!

The bandstand area for the Stuart Mey musical tribute.
Some of those who attended the Stuart Mey memorial and musical tribute.
An estimated 300 people attended the Stuart Mey memorial and musical tribute.
Some of the estimated 300 people who attended the Stuart Mey memorial and musical tribute in Westville, Durban.

4 thoughts on “Fitting farewell for Stuart Mey

  1. So sorry we could not be there..Stuart was and will remain an Icon of the South African Music/Entertainment scene…he will always be with us in SPIRIT…seeing the pictures, it was a truly fitting farewell to Stuart…

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  2. So awesome…thanks Billy…R.I.P. Stuart…xx

    On Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 8:51 AM, …..SoSuterBill….. wrote:

    > sosuterbill posted: ” ……………………………………………… > …………………………………….………………………….. BY BILLY SUTER > DURBAN’S Stuart Mey, a former Northlands art and history teacher, who later > turned musician and show producer, was given a fitting farewell last ” >

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  3. We met Stuart our Nephew by marriage, when we came to South Africa some years ago 1982,and were immediately impressed with him. He went to a great deal of trouble taking us to various parts of the country Ie, Rorkes Drift, Zulu Land etc , and he was wonderful company.we remember dancing at the Oyster Box to his band Solitaire with lan Wells and Keith Pulford. Wish we could have been with you all to celebrate his life. He will always be fondly remembered by us. Aunty Marian and Uncle Barrie. R. I.P. Stuart. XX

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