Reunion was last gig

Last year's reunion: (left to right) The late Brian Gibson, Brian "Smirky" Moon, John Hart and Roly Thompson.
Last year's reunion: (left to right) The late Brian Gibson, Brian "Smirky" Moon, John Hart and Roly Thompson.

IT was a reunion that was to sadly be their last as a foursome.

John Hart, Roly Thompson, Brian Gibson and Brian “Smirky” Moon, of popular 1960s combo The Hartbeats, met up for a reunion in February last year.

As reported by the Hartlepool Mail, it was the first time the foursome had been together collectively for 48 years.

Sadly, the next time the line-up met was at Brian Gibson’s funeral.

Billingham man Brian, described as a “really dynamic frontman”, passed away aged 65 on October 28.

John, Roly and former bassist Brian Moon attended Brian’s funeral at Teesside Crematorium on November 4.

Rhythm guitarist Roly, 65, from the South Fens area of Hartlepool, said: “We had never been in the same room for more than 40 years before last year’s reunion at The Owington Farm pub, in Billingham.

“Brian had been making arrangements to do a song with us on our Hartbeats website.

“But he never got back to us about it.

“I got a phone call completely out of the blue from his step-daughter to say he had passed away.

“It was very sudden.”

Brian had been a singer with the band in the early 1960s.

The band, which was founded in 1961 by Hartlepool man George Hart, who died of cancer aged 64 in May 2008, had seen a number of line-up changes over the years.

Dad-of-two Roly said he served his time with Brian when they were electrical fitter apprentices with ICI.

He added: “The lads were over the moon that we met him.

“Brian was the first real singer we had at the time.

“He was a very big fan of Elvis and Cliff Richard and Shadows numbers were played at his funeral.

“It was lucky for us all to have got together again.

“We’re just grateful we had that one last meeting.

“Brian was a proper gentleman, a really nice lad – you couldn’t help but like him.

“He was a very good frontman, immaculately dressed.

“He wasn’t very tall, but was very suave and a very good-looking lad who could really move on the stage.”

Guitarist and drummer John Hart, 65, who lives in Greatham, said: “Brian was a quiet lad, but when he got on stage he opened up.

“He was a really dynamic frontman and he set the standard as our first proper frontman.”

John said he had handed Brian’s widow, Margaret, a disk featuring tracks by the band at the funeral.

Other Hartbeats members over the years included Peter Trundley, John Rogan, Derek Allen and Ken Burgess.