OMD. He was one of those often overlooked people who are crucial to any creative community but who in reality prove themselves again and again to be a genuine catalyst and a true creative force.

I first saw Hambi in his band Tontrix in the glorious days of Eric’s and even reviewed his next band Hambi and the Dance for NME in summer 1982 when they appeared alongside a fledgling Frankie Goes To Hollywood at Larks in the Park. Hambi and  the Dance secured a record deal and though they had no great success they provided an early home for the likes of  Guy Chambers, Mike Score, and Wayne Hussey  who all went on to have huge success in their own right.

Early on Hambi had seen the value of having his own studio and had set up a 16 track recording studio called The Pink Studio in his rehearsal room on Ullett Road, where Hambi and the Dance recorded their debut album. After the band were dropped Hambi bounced back by setting up a new studio called the Pink Museum on Lark Lane in what was the old Motor Museum. That’s easy for me to write but the reality is that it was a ridiculously brave decision by Hambi to sink his money into such a risky project.

The result was a brilliantly unique studio which opened in summer 1988 and soon hosted the recording of that pop classic the ‘Anfield Rap’. The La’s spent time recording there and then there was a significant moment when OMD recorded their magnificent ‘Sugar Tax’ album after Hambi had persuaded Andy McCluskey to work with local musician/songwriter Lloyd Massett and Stuart Kershaw. The Pink Museum was now definitely on the map.

Loads of other local bands like The Farm, The Christians, and Frankie Goes To Hollywood followed OMD into the Pink and Black and recorded their huge hit ‘Wonderful Life’ there. A little bit of history was created in the studio when Bootle boys The Real People brought their mates Oasis to the Pink Museum and with some help from Chris and Tony Griffiths the band’s debut single ‘Supersonic’ was recorded over a single day. The rest as they say is history.

Eventually Hambi moved on leaving the studio (now known as The Motor Museum) in the more than capable hands of OMD’s Andy McCluskey.

Hambi decided on a complete change and went on to study film/digital content which is when I came across him again as I was then working in creative industries support at the time. With typical determination Hambi seemed to be making a real go of this new creative direction and after seeing his work he was invited by Andy McCluskey to provide back projections for the reformed OMD live shows. Anyone who saw the shows back then or even saw the DVD of the gigs will testify to how impressive they were. Hambi definitely had an eye for the visually striking. Andy and Hambi also worked together on the hugely impressive Energy Suite project.

Hambi was one of those people who when you bumped into them you could ease back into a conversation with them no matter how long it had been since you had  last spoken. He was someone I always enjoyed meeting up with and having a chat over a tea or a pint while he told me about his next exciting project. He was good and generous company. I think the last time I saw him was at the launch of the OMD exhibition at the BME last year for which Hambi had edited some OMD footage. He was his usual self and we had a really good natter about this and that, and people we knew.

Jayne Casey told me a few weeks ago that Hambi was in hospital, but to be honest I thought he would bounce back. He was one of those people who you just thought would always be around. He will be much missed.

Kev McManus

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