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Remembering John and Margery Styles, founder members of Smith’s Academy.
7 January 2024
No. 84
In 2023 we lost two fine musicians, both major contributors to our music. Drummer Simon Pearson died suddenly in September, at the age of 54. Guitarist Brian Godding died in November after a long illness, at 78.
I first met Simon when he was playing with the Steve Martland Band. I wrote Blues for Terenzi for the group (which included Pete Whyman). Simon was the complete modern drummer, equally at home in a Classical context as with the solid grooves of Rock, or the creative freedom of Jazz. The Martland Band, a classical ensemble that looked and sounded like a rock group, one of the heaviest around, fully exploited Simon’s talent.
Simon Pearson and Brian Godding
He handled the rhythmic complexities of Terenzi as to the manner born. His inventiveness and intelligence were again on display when we recorded a piece, The Serpent Hit, for percussion, voice and saxophone quartet. A short tour combined Serpent with the first live performances of Fine ’n Yellow. Simon also took part in the last performances of Off Abbey Road in 2012. Sadly the gigs ran out, but I am grateful to have had the chance to work with such a talented and creative artist.
After Brian joined the Cadillac Band in the mid 70s, things were never quite the same. We began a friendship and musical collaboration that went on for more than forty years. Brian’s contribution was central to a whole range of work. He made his first appearance with the Orchestra in Citadel/Room 315 and continued through the 80s with The Cortège, After Smith’s Hotel and On Duke’s Birthday, followed by London Bridge is Broken Down.
Brian’s guitar synth laid the foundation for The Dance Band, the quartet that toured Pier Rides with Extemporary Dance Theatre. Then came Off Abbey Road, one of our most successful and enjoyable touring projects. For Brian this was a reminder of the days when groups scrambled to be first to get hold of, and copy, the latest Beatles single. Over the years his innovative guitar playing made him a star of the Rock scene. Eventually it brought him into the world of Jazz and Improvised Music, before he moved into territory of his own with the wonderful space-age abstraction of his ‘Choral Guitar’.
With Brian’s passing Kate and I feel as if we had lost a younger brother,-brilliant, wayward, and one of the greatest natural musicians we’ve known. It was a happy chance when a revival of Off Abbey Road in 2012 brought Brian Godding together with Simon Pearson, Pete Fairclough having hung up his sticks.
As the strains of ‘All You Need Is Love’ faded in Exhibition Road, round the corner from the Albert Hall, at the end of the last concert it was not only ‘Goodbye to Abbey Road’ but the end of an era. But what an era! In a message on my 85th birthday Brian wrote ‘I really, really wish…we could do it all again !!’ Me too, Brian.
Mike Westbrook
With our condolences to Angie, Don, Christina and the Godding family.
Simon Pearson
Brian Godding

Simon Pearson

Brian Godding
photo: Dominique Besson
Simon Pearson
and Brian Godding
Simon Pearson (Off Abbey Road)
Simon Pearson (Off Abbey Road)
Exhibition Road Roadshow Aug 2012
photo: Kevin McDonnell
Brian Godding and Simon Pearson (Off Abbey Road)
Brian Godding and Simon Pearson
(Off Abbey Road)
Exhibition Road Roadshow Aug 2012
photo: Sergio Amadori
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Kate & Mike Westbrook
Kate and Mike Westbrook