Be Bop Deluxe: Maid In Heaven

As a diversion from reblogging things found in the depths of my archive, here is some music, together with a memory of a wonderful friend.

I met Billy O’Neill when he joined the London Ambulance Service. A former Catholic Monk, he later became lead guitarist in a touring band. Then he settled down into a quiet life as a librarian in Camden, before deciding to become an EMT. He was a gentle giant of a man, standing over six feet six tall, and wearing size thirteen shoes.

For some years he worked with me as my regular ambulance crewmate and we became great friends, with a shared love of music. When I moved to Camden in 2000, we lived within sight of each other. He went on to better things in that job, first becoming a Training Instructor, then progressing to the second highest role in the London Ambulance Service. He moved to Oxfordshire, married his partner Ian, and I was proud to be a witness at their civil ceremony. Later on, he was a witness when I married Julie, and Ian made the wedding video for us. On my last ever shift as an EMT, he came to work with me for those final eight hours.

Billy was taken from this world far too soon, devastated by bone cancer. I miss him every day, and always will.

This is one of our favourite songs, and it was always played whenever we socialised.

52 thoughts on “Be Bop Deluxe: Maid In Heaven

  1. Sorry to hear of your friend’s death. You wrote a lovely tribute to him. On another tack, I own all BeBop Deluxe’s albums and often went to see them play at Hammersmith Odeon. Back in 1976 a friend and I went youth hostelling to Wakefield where he was born and spent one afternoon looking for his granny’s house.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I especially loved his series of vocations. Monk to musician to EMT to librarian. His life seemed to go between quiet and noise. He sounds like a great friend and a true loss.

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  3. I remember Bill well, great guy, I was his instructor when he joined LAS, there were many I was involved with but a few always stand out Bill was one of the 4 trainees I will always remember, a proper gentleman. Ahhhhh be bop delux what memories

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  4. One of my favourite bands from that era too, Pete; coincidentally, one of their songs was on a recent edition of Guy Garvey’s excellent programmes on Sky Arts, when he trawls the ITV archives for lost gems & early performances from acts which went on to be famous; or, occasionally, short-lived! It’s well worth checking out, if you don’t already know it. Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That song, I know the bass player Charlie Tumahai. He came back to NZ, played in a band called Herbs and helped maori youth offenders in Court, where he died suddenly, about 30 years ago.

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