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Performing in 1974.
|Birth name||Gary Frederick Holton|
22 September 1952|
|Died||25 October 1985
Wembley, London, England
|Genres||Glam rock, Hard rock, Folk rock|
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, actor, musician|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboards, harmonica|
|Labels||Safari, Receiver Records Limited, Magnet|
|Associated acts||Heavy Metal Kids, The Actors, Casino Steel, Mick Rossi|
Gary Frederick Holton (22 September 1952 – 25 October 1985) was an English singer-songwriter, musician and actor from London. He was the frontman of the band Heavy Metal Kids (1974–77), he worked with Casino Steel (1981–84), and played the part of Wayne in the UK television comedy Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (1983–85). Holton died from an overdose of morphine combined with alcohol in 1985.
Gary was the third child of Ernie and Joan Holton, and grew up in the slums of the East End. Whilst musically talented, Gary's real ambition was to act.
Early on in his life, he began working in the theatre world with the Sadlers Wells Opera Company, and was with them for three years. Soon after leaving education at Westminster School, he joined the Old Vic Theatre Company, and from there he went on to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford.
Holton made his acting debut in 1979, when he played the character of Eddie Hairstyle in the television movie The Knowledge with Michael Elphick and Kim Taylforth. Holton did not receive much credit for this role, and neither did he get much credit for his role as an uncredited character in the film Quadrophenia, released the same year. However, Holton, after appearing in the television series Shoestring, played the lead part of Ken in the 1979 film Bloody Kids.
In 1980, Holton appeared playing the character of Keith in the television series Play for Today, and as a minor character in the film Breaking Glass. He appeared in the 1981 television film Tiny Revolutions, where he played a minor character, and in the television series The Gentle Touch, where he guest-starred as Rick Sloan.
Auf Wiedersehen Pet
Playing the part of Wayne Winston Norris in the smash hit comedy drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Holton played a Cockney carpenter who liked his women, music, and drink, which was actually very similar to his off-screen personality.
He landed the part (the first of the seven to be cast), after he was introduced to Ian La Frenais at a party. La Frenais and his writing partner Dick Clement had been drafting storylines and working on an idea given to them by Franc Roddam, ex-foreign worker and director of Quadrophenia.
The first series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet ran between 1983 and 1984. In February 1985, filming began on the second series. The final episode of the second series, broadcast after Holton's death, was dedicated to his memory.
The show was revived in 2002 with the original writers and all of the surviving cast members. The gap in the line-up left by Holton was filled by Wyman, Wayne's illegitimate son, played by Noel Clarke.
While acting on Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Holton had only two other roles. He appeared in the TV series Minder, where he played villain Barry, in 1984. He also played an uncredited extra in the television series Bulman, in the following year of 1985.
His musical endeavours were now confined to strict one-offs for a while: in December 1978, Holton stood in for The Damned vocalist Dave Vanian on a short Scottish tour; and he also recorded a solo single (which became a number one hit in Norway), a punk-country version of Kenny Rogers's "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" with the Boys' keyboardist Casino Steel, with whom he would later write a song simply titled "Auf Wiedersehen Pet" about his experiences in the show. Holton and Steel recorded three albums together, all of them doing well in Norway. But even the opportunity to replace the late Bon Scott in AC/DC could not lure him back to full-time rock & roll. He made an appearance on 80's T.V. show The Tube in 1984 with a band named as The Actors, which included fellow Quadrophenia star Gary Shail on bass guitar, and they performed a song entitled "Long-Legged Blue-Eyed Blonde".
The Heavy Metal Kids
Gary was a spectacular front-man for the band, which formed in 1974. With his raucous cockney accent, he proved himself a popular cult glam-rock icon of the age. The band were discovered by former Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich front-man Dave Dee, who signed them to Atlantic Records. Their eponymous debut album was well received by the press, but had little impact. They played many gigs with punk rock band the Adverts. On their first American tour in 1975, they shortened their name to "The Kids".
In December 1975, the Kids signed with producer Mickie Most's RAK label, but before work could begin on their next album, Holton was loudly sacked from the line-up amid a storm of drink- and drug-related headlines. Plans for the remaining members to continue on without him, however, came to naught, and, in late 1977, Holton rejoined the band for a handful of live shows and the long-delayed third album, Kitsch. But, by mid-1978, he had departed once again, and, this time, the band broke up.
Whilst the band was popular in Sweden, they had little commercial success in Britain (though in 1976 their single "She's No Angel" was regularly played on BBC Radio 1, a favourite of legendary DJ John Peel, and this led to an appearance on Top of the Pops), so they disbanded and Holton returned to acting.
In 1980/81, Holton hooked up with Casino Steel, a musician from Norway and in the following years released a couple of (in Norway) bestselling albums, creating the particular niche "Rig Rock", symbolizing a successful partnership across the North Sea, the oilworker being the modern-day cowboy. The duo's musical style was country rock with strong punk influences, their first hit being a cover of Kenny Rogers' "Ruby". Gary Holton's Norwegian musical career went largely unnoticed in his homeland.
In 1977, Holton formed a relationship with singer Stella Palmer, with whom he performed his cover version of "Somethin' Stupid" in 1973. Holton and Palmer got engaged on 12 March 1977, but on 2 May the same year, Palmer called off the engagement, stating their relationship was not going quite as planned.
In 1983, Holton formed a relationship with hairdresser Janet Mclllewan. The pair got engaged in 1985, shortly before Holton died.
Holton was found dead by his girlfriend Janet Mclllewan in his bed on 25 October 1985. He had died from an overdose of alcohol and morphine, with traces of diazepam and cannabis in his system. Pathologist Dr. Rufus Crompton said during his inquest at Hornsey, North London, that he would have been drinking less than half-an-hour before his death, and that the morphine would have made him unconscious within a matter of minutes.
Holton had a blood alcohol level of 199 mg and a morphine level of 0.8 mg per litre (0.5 mg per litre is considered invariably fatal). He had been a drug user for several years after experiences through the music scene and was addicted to heroin, a habit he had quit some time after the first series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet had been broadcast. He was considering setting up a clinic to help others with their addictions.
Holton had considerable debts and had two bankruptcy orders totalling £61,000 over him. These debts were partly due to his not having paid tax since 1979, and also having a mortgage of £48,500 on his flat in Maida Vale, London. He died midway through the second series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, but the producers used body doubles and clever editing of dialogue already recorded to allow the series to be completed.
In the third-from-last episode of series 2, a body double is seen being carried out of a bar by Bomber; it is obviously a double as his face is never shown, and some dialogue is added "what am I supposed to do?" having been chatting up Ally Fraser's girlfriend Vicki. Just before his death, he had released the single "Catch A Falling Star". He is survived by his son, Red, and his adopted son, Max, with model Susan Harrison. They eventually rescripted the series, such that in every indoor scene that originally included Holton, excuses were made for his absence, normally tied into the character's love of the opposite sex - for instance, Barry saying: "Where's Wayne? Off down the port chasing skirt again?"
Holton's funeral took place on 22 November 1985, with a 15-minute service at Golders Green Crematorium in London. His Auf Wiedersehen, Pet co-stars were all there to pay their respects. His ashes were removed by the undertaker and later placed in his grandparents' grave in Maesgwastad Cemetery, Welshpool, Powys, where his father was landlord of a public house at the time.
With Heavy Metal Kids
- Heavy Metal Kids (1974) Atlantic Records
- Anvil Chorus (1975) Atlantic Records
- Kitsch (1977) Rak Records
With Casino Steel
- Gary Holton & Casino Steel (1981) Killroy Records
- Part II (1982) Polydor Records
- III Edition (1983) Polydor Records
- No 4 (1984) Polydor Records
- Sing It To Me (1989) Receiver Records Limited (Released Posthumously; Featuring Mick Rossi)
With Heavy Metal Kids
- "It's The Same" (1974) Atlantic Records
- "Ain't Nothing But A House Party/You Got Me Rollin'" (1975) Atlantic Records
- "Ain't Nothing But A House Party/You Got Me Rollin' Re-Mix" (1975) Atlantic Records
- "She's No Angel" (1976) Rak Records
- "Delirious" (1977) Rak Records/EMI Electrola
- "Chelsea Kids" (1977) Rak Records/EMI Electrola
With Casino Steel
- "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" (1981) X Records
- "Blackberry Way"/"Candy" (1982) Polydor Records
- "No Reply" (1983) Polydor Records
- "Runaway" (1989) Amulet Records (Released Posthumously)
- "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" (1980) Safari Records
- "Catch A Falling Star" (1984) Magnet Records
- "Holiday Romance" (1984) Magnet Records (Featuring Mick Rossi)
- "People In Love" (1986) Gaza Records (Released Posthumously; Featuring Mick Rossi)
- "Catch A Falling Star Re-Issue" (1989) Not On Label (Released Posthumously)
- The Knowledge (1979)
- Quadrophenia (1979)
- Shoestring (1979)
- Bloody Kids (1979)
- Play for Today (1980)
- Breaking Glass (1980)
- Tiny Revolutions (1981)
- The Gentle Touch (1981)
- Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (1983–1985)
- Minder (1984)
- Bulman (1985)
- Births, Marriages and Deaths Index for England & Wales
- "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet stars to reunite at convention". Giggle Beats. July 19, 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.