Tributes paid to St Albans rocker after sudden death

The Lipstick Melodies

The Lipstick Melodies - Credit: Archant

Musicians have paid tribute to a “loyal friend with a heart of gold and a rock star swagger” - who died aged 33.

Alan Wass, The Lipstick Melodies’ front man, was reportedly excited about his new music venture and looking forward to a bright future at the time of his fatal heart attack.

His latest band Alan Wass and The Tourniquet were signed by Sensible Music and had been happily laying down tracks, in an old manor house in Hertfordshire.

Alan had come up with the name, after surviving a near-death experience in February, when he fell through a glass partition in his London home, severing an artery and damaging two nerves in his right arm.

His manager and pal Tony Rowe used a tourniquet to save him and despite requiring life support in hospital at the time, he was recovering well, according to those close to him.

Friend and fellow band member, Phil Clarke, 33, who grew up in Harpenden, said: “He was this underground blues guy who worked really hard with loads of famous people and never got the break - and when he did, a week later, he died.

“He brought so much joy to people’s lives through his music and his charismatic personality. He was very loyal, looked after his friends and brought out the best in his band mates. He was greatly respected and well-loved in the music scene.”

Most Read

Guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Marc James, originally from St Albans, said: “I went to London to see The Lipstick Melodies play. Alan invited me to jam with the band, and I toured with them. We shared our love of blues and I was learning the pedal steel.

“He had a rock star swagger and was larger than life but he was humble and graceful. The last interactions I had with Alan were full of hope. We were talking about recording together and he was hungry for some pedal steel!

“He was gentle, generous and kind. He loved music and appreciated musicianship. I am thankful to have shared a stage with him. My prayers go out to his wife, family and friends.”

Alan’s music highlights included working with the The Clash guitarist Mick Jones, and producing an early Florence and the Machine song.

Another peak in his career was recording with producer Mark Wallis, who mixed global bestseller and Grammy award-winning U2 album, The Joshua Tree.

Mark said: “We had only been talking three weeks ago, planning future work with his Tourniquet project. He was so upbeat, excited and looking forward to the studio sessions.

“I have known Alan for around five years and have become aware of his incredible musical talent, both as a musician and songwriter. The ideas and creative energies would flow from him almost continuously.

“He was a rare gem, a wonderfully mischievous musician with a loving heart and I am honoured to have been able to call him a friend.

“He left us far too soon and will be sorely missed by many. My heart goes out to his family and friends and I hope we can celebrate his life, love and talent.”

He regularly played with The Libertines and fronted earlier band, The Left Hand. He co-wrote Hired Gun with his longstanding pal and collaborator Pete Doherty. The pair performed the track at Esquires, Bedford, and for MTV in Germany. Alan sang it at The Horn in St Albans.

It was released on iTunes last week, by Alan’s friends, to grant one of his wishes. A tribute concert and album, featuring his last recordings, is likely.

Alan Wass and The Tourniquet - made up of Phil Clarke, St Albans’ musician Rich Stevens, Alexi Christou and a session sax player - were booked for their first gig (as that band) on May 3 – but sadly tragedy struck just days before.

Phil added: “He was embracing life and felt lucky to have survived. He was the guy you could turn to – he would always have your back. A really good friend with a heart of gold.

“That spark in the eyes when we finished a gig and we all looked at each other, that’s how I will remember him … That feeling of camaraderie will remain with me, every time I get behind a drum kit.”

On Alan’s Facebook page, friend Suzanne Martin mused: “In his dazzling white suit, Stetson and wings, rockin’ high heavens, I hear him sing. See you on the other side.”