Shropshire Star

The Groundhogs guitarist Tony McPhee dies at his Shropshire home

The Groundhogs guitarist Tony McPhee, who lived in Shropshire, has died at the age of 79.

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Groundhogs leader Tony McPhee f set to go on stage at Worthen Village Hall. .

The musician, who remained at the centre of the band for almost half a century, had been a huge supporter of music in his home county, organising and taking part in open mic nights.

A message on the group’s Facebook page said Tony died “peacefully at home” on Monday from complications after a fall last year. He had also suffered a series of strokes in later life.

The tribute said: "We are deeply saddened to announce that 79-year-old guitar and blues legend Tony (TS) McPhee, died peacefully at home, from complications following a fall last year.

"He is survived by his devoted wife Joanna, sons Conan & Vincent, grandchildren Scarlett & Victor and loving sister Olive."

Tony led The Groundhogs intermittently between 1962 and 2015.

Tony Mcphee in 1968

The band, which supported the Rolling Stones on a 1971 tour, had three top 10 albums in the 70s.

While The Groundhogs were best known for their 'prog rock' they were rooted in blues. Tony said one of the highlights of his career had been playing guitar with blues legend John Lee Hooker.

The band supported him on a tour and an album, Hooker and the Hogs.

In Shropshire the guitarist and singer Joanna Deacon began organising open mic nights at the Wrekin Inn in 2009.

The free evenings were hugely successful and celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2019.

Open mic night at the Wrekin Inn, Wellington, from left 'Brentlee', Joanna Deacon and Tony McPhee.

Joanna said at the time: "Over the years we have welcomed new and very nervous to professional musicians who have wowed us with their extraordinary musicianship.

“We have a fantastic core of musicians who are there almost every week and continue to entertain us with their playing and support for others.”

Tony and Joanna also supported other open mic evenings turning up to take part to the delight of the organisers.

The guitarist also took part in many charity events.

It was in the 1990s when Tony had a stroke on stage in the Midlands. He said it had been like someone pressing an erase button in his brain.

"I suffered a stroke which had the effect of instantly erasing my ability on the guitar and left me a fumbling beginner, unable to play the next note correctly," he said in a letter.

He said he had a relearning task ahead of him.