Tommy Eyre

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Tommy Eyre (5 July 1949 – 23 May 2001) was a session keyboardist from Sheffield, England, who appeared on records by Joe Cocker, John Martyn, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, Alex Harvey, Greg Lake, B.B. King, John Mayall, Ian Gillan, Gerry Rafferty, Tracy Chapman and Wham!. He is perhaps most famous for playing on Joe Cocker's UK chart-topper "With A Little Help From My Friends", on which he arranged the distinctive organ introduction, and Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" and "Right Down the Line".


Eyre began piano lessons at the age of four and started playing guitar when he was in his teens[1] . In 1968 he joined Joe Cocker's Grease Band where he played the organ on With A Little Help From My Friends.[2] In the same year Eyre moved to London to work with The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation and later with Dunbar's next rock band called Blue Whale. [3] After a short period with the band Juicy Lucy, Eyre joined the duo Mark-Almond and played on two of their albums. After that, in 1972, Eyre and bassist Roger Sutton resumed their own project Strabismus which they had started in 1969, and which was now called Riff Raff.[4] With Riff Raff Eyre recorded three albums, one of them not being released until 2001.

Together with singer Alan Marshall from Riff Raff, Eyre joined the band ZZebra in 1974 for their first album, replacing keyboardist and singer Gus Yeadon.[5] Eyre played on some of the tracks but is not credited on the album. With Zzebra he recorded a second album in 1975. In August 1977, Eyre became a member of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, with whom he stayed until 1979.[6] After that, Eyre recorded an album with John Martyn and did a promotion tour with him in 1980.[7] In June 1981, he joined Greg Lake for his solo project, and in 1982 became a member of Gary Moore's studio and touring band.


One of Eyre's longest and most successful associations was with the duo Wham!, for whom he became musical director.[8] His works with Wham! include the successful album Make it Big in 1984 with the singles "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", "Freedom", "Everything She Wants", and Michael's solo record Careless Whisper. A massive world tour included China in April 1985, which generated a great deal of media coverage as it was the first visit to China by a Western popular music act.

Session work[edit]

Eyre, who had done studio work for many artists before, started working predominantly as a session musician from the late 1980s. His studio work included recordings with Ian Gillan, BBM, and several recordings with Gary Moore in 1982 and throughout the nineties. Another act for whom Eyre has contributed session work was Gerry Rafferty. His 1978 album City to City included Rafferty's hit Baker Street on which Eyre played synthesizer and keyboards. The track "Whatever's Written in Your Heart" was recorded with Eyre playing piano and Rafferty singing beside him.

During the 1990s, Eyre recorded several albums with his wife the American violinist Scarlet Rivera, many of them influenced by traditional Irish or Scottish music. Later in the nineties he also produced some solo albums with instrumental piano music.

Private life[edit]

Eyre lived most of his life in England up until the mid-1980s with his first wife Lorraine Eyre. They divorced in 1988 but remained close until his death. From the late 1980s he lived in the US with his American wife, the violinist Scarlet Rivera. He died of esophageal cancer in Los Angeles on 23 May 2001, aged 51.[9][10]

His younger brother is session guitarist Simon Eyre, who has worked with artists such as Paul Weller, the Lighthouse Family, Robert Palmer, Sister Sledge and Randy Crawford.


Albums with Scarlet Rivera[edit]

  • Scarlet Rivera – Magical Christmas (1997)
  • Scarlet Rivera – Behind the Crimson Veil (1998)
  • Scarlet Rivera – Celtic Myst (1998)
  • Scarlet Rivera – Celtic Dreams (1998)
  • Scarlet Rivera – Celtic Spirit (1997)
  • Scarlet Rivera – Voice of the Animals (2001)
  • Scarlet Rivera – Contemporary Piano & Cello Christmas Classics (1999)
  • Scarlet Rivera – Baroque at Christmas (2001)

Solo albums[edit]

  • Tommy Eyre – Moonlight Piano, Vol. 1 (1998)
  • Tommy Eyre – Moonlight Piano, Vol. 2 (1998)
  • Tommy Eyre – Moonlight Piano, Vol. 3 (1998)
  • Tommy Eyre – Ivory Christmas – Piano Classics (1995)
  • Tommy Eyre – A Highland Christmas (1997)
  • Tommy Eyre – Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas (1999)
  • Tommy Eyre – Celestial Harp: Christmas Themes (1997)


  1. ^ Eyre, Simon. "Simon Eyre Website: Tommy". Archived from the original on 29 September 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  2. ^ "Tommy Eyre Obituary". The Independent. 13 June 2001. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  3. ^ "A Phil Brodie Band Tribute Page: Tommy Eyre". Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  4. ^ "Riff Raff". Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  5. ^ "ZZebra". Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  6. ^ "Sensational Alex Harvey Band". Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  7. ^ "John". Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  8. ^ Site dedicated to Tommy Eyre by his brother Simon Eyre Archived 29 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 September 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]