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Norwich guitarist dies

PUBLISHED: 14:51 13 October 2010

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Archant

Derek James pays tribute to a leading Norwich guitarist

The American airmen were hooked on this local boy. There wasn’t anyone who could play quite like Micky Large. He made such sweet music.

“Micky would play in the bar, not the cellar, at street level on White Lion Street and the place would be heaving with people all wanting to hear Micky. Sometimes they would queue up outside to get to listen to him,” said former Zodiac turned Golden Years organiser Terry Wickham.

But Micky left Norwich in the early 60s and the bid to track him down so he could appear at the Golden Years failed.

Just the other day former Continental and the man who ran Zaks restaurant in Norwich, Harvey Platt, got in touch to say Mick, who went on to play for Gene Pitney, had died in Kidderminster at the age of 68.

“He was the most talented of all the rock ‘n’ roll guitarists from Norwich of the late 1950s and early 60s and he was responsible for my musical career,” said Harvey.

“He knocked on my door one day while I was still at the CNS. He said he had heard about me and asked if I was interested in joining The Continentals – I was. He was an inspiration to me and a lot of other young musicians in Norwich all those years ago. We have a lot to thank him for,” he added.

Milton & The Continentals rose to become the biggest band in Norwich and they carved out a name for themselves across the country. They were the boys others copied.

They were formed above a chemists’ shop in Drayton Road run by the Large family, just up the road from the old Manor House. Remember that?

Mick, a pupil at the Norman School, was encouraged to play the guitar by Bob Barber, and joined up with other skiffle kids. An early group was the late Ronnie Hanton’s skiffle band.

Mick also used to turn up and play at The Cottage in Thorpe St Andrew with Brian Green and the Dixelanders and other groups. People would love to listen to him.

Young musicians Mick played with included the likes of David Blyth (Valentine), Sid Bezants, Lester Middleton, the brilliant Lew Day, and Ricky Lee, who went on to front The Hucklebucks.

Early members of The Continentals were Barry Butcher, Pat Woods, Johnny Pratt and Johnny Thompson. They cut a dash on the local scene, but hit the big time when a GI called Milton Ingram joined as the singer and boy, could he sing.

The Continentals were later joined by the Zagni Brothers and Harvey – his brother, the legendary DJ and promoter Howard found them plenty of work.

But Mick left Norwich and went on to tour with Chio Arnez and then joined top American singer/songwriter Gene Pitney as his guiatrist, touring with him during the 1980s.

His son Simon said: “He was a brilliant muscian. He was a perfectionist. My dad ended up being a better guitarist than the person who taught him.”

Mick ended up living and working in Kidderminster, where he was loved.

He appeared on the BBC daytime show Pebble Mill and was a star act at the Harp pub and the Market Tavern, both owned by his wife Helen and her father.

“My dad was a nice, caring, generous and loving person. He put himself out for a lot of people. He was a devoted dad and grandad and he had two dogs, which he loved as well,” said Simon.

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