Ray Palmer: Ten Years Gone

10 years ago today, my great friend Ray Palmer died suddenly at the age of 48.  It's hard to believe that this happened a full decade ago.

Ray Palmer was a photographer on rock magazine Kerrang! between 1981 and a year in the late ‘90s which I now forget.  He was, of course, far more than just a photographer: he was a husband to Chris, a father to Ross and Faye, and a friend to so many.  He was also an absolute one-off: there was no-one in the industry like him and there never will be again. 

I’m a real believer in people living on in hearts and minds.  When the departed are remembered, they continue to have an effect on the living and are therefore still with us.

Ray Palmer will assuredly never be forgotten.  On a new version of a tribute site which I started in December 2002, I’ve gathered together just a few of the reasons why, as everyone from close friends to virtual strangers clamour to tell their part of The Ray Palmer Story.

You’ll notice several recurring themes in these stories and recollections.  Ray was kind, funny, intelligent, mischievous, infinitely laidback, generous, a great storyteller, a great drinker, a charmer of considerable proportions and an all-round wonderful human being, while being no saint.  As sad as I inevitably am today, I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to spend time in Ray’s orbit.  I had more than my fair share of boozed-up fun with the man, whether we were sitting by swimming pools in Los Angeles or by a fire in a Wimbledon pub, long after he'd stopped working for rock magazines.

Back in the mists of time when I was a rock journalist, you see, Ray and I would travel the world.  We covered the Manic Street Preachers in Japan, Bad Religion in LA, Iron Maiden in Germany, Paradise Lost in Seattle... and oh God, it was fun.  Considering Ray was a photographer (despite being blind in one eye), there are shamefully few photographs of us in existence.  The picture below, then, is one of those few: it’s me and Ray in a Tokyo hotel room, drunk, in kimonos, somewhere around dawn. Yes, that’s me on the left with the rock hairdo.  Ray is presumably activating the camera via remote control.  Out of all the many trips abroad I did for Kerrang! magazine, that Manics In Japan jaunt with Ray remains my favourite. 

Ray became one of my very best friends and I would give pretty much anything for a catch-up session with him in a pub.  Hopefully that will happen one day.  We’ll see.

Even if this is the first you've heard of Ray Palmer's existence, I'd really love you to take a look at my new post on the tribute site, read some of the many testimonials from people whose lives he touched, and have a laugh at some of the ludicrous rock 'n' roll tales.

I'd love you to come away with an impression of the man, however vague.  Because believe me when I say that Ray Palmer deserves to live on in hearts and minds.


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