Guitarist and keyboardist from the Cruel Sea James Cruickshank of Bangalow pictured playing the organ at St Kevins Catholic Church in Bangalow. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Guitarist and keyboardist from the Cruel Sea James Cruickshank of Bangalow pictured playing the organ at St Kevins Catholic Church in Bangalow. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

Tributes flow for Bangalow rock star James Cruickshank

UPDATE: TRIBUTES flow from the local music community for The Cruel Sea member James Cruickshank and Bangalow resident, who passed away yesterday.

Mullum Music Festival and Vitamin Records director Glenn Wright confirmed Mr Cruickshank was to be a featured artist on this year's festival.

Mr Wright acknowledged "the talent and courage of a man who was keen to play right up to the end."

"James dropped into the Mullum Festival / Vitamin Records office a few months back and we chatted. He was in good spirits, and joked about his situation," Mr Wright said.

"I didn't feel uncomfortable but rather admired his brave resolve. He was bored with the health treatments and wanted a music project to keep his mind interested, something creative. He asked if he could do a spot at the Mullum Music Festival, but that he might not be able to make it.

"I said sure and no problems, if he had to pull out, people would understand and who cares if they don't! James had played Mullum Festival as a solo artist twice before and as a band member many times with different groups.

"Last week James emailed to say he wasn't able to play the festival as he didn't have the stamina. He said he hoped it was the best festival yet. We were in touch again on Wednesday and he wished us the best.

"James was a wonderful songwriter with original quirky arrangements in all his solo albums, and his vocals were becoming more and more unique and lived in.

"James had no fear in recording and went in many different directions when making his albums. He was an artist and I think that's what he wanted to be. We were lucky enough to distribute three of his solo albums: Note to Self, Hello Human and Hymn for Her".

For James Cruickshank's music: https://soundcloud.com/user2773157/01-the-song-of-the-boatswain
 

 

UPDATE: ONE of Mr Cruickshank's closest friends, Bangalow artist Michelle Dawson, remembers him as man of fierce passion and intelligence who had the best laugh she had ever heard.

"Everything James did he did with great honesty, intelligence and with great heart," she said.

Mr Cruickshank was determined to die at home so Michelle together with friend Jez Mead and James' sister Kirsty Stauce moved in to his Bangalow home to support him.

"Sometimes he was sad, sometimes happy and sometimes he talked of the gifts his illness had given him," she said.

"He said one of the gifts was feeling so loved by the people around him."

Ms Dawson said that right up to the end Mr Cruickshank had kept producing art and music often to the consternation of his doctors.

Diagnosed with bowel cancer 12 months ago Mr Cruickshank was still performing, in July playing 5 dates in Portugal and Poland with Mick Harvey in a Serge Gainsbourg tribute show.

Ms Dawson said throughout his illness Mr Cruickshank still maintained his sense of humour.

"There was a five dollar fine if anyone referred to (his illness) as his journey," she said.

"We are all heart broken- but it has been a great honour to go through this experience with him."

 

INITIAL REPORT: BANGALOW resident and musician James Cruickshank passed away yesterday at the age of 53.

Mr Cruickshank, who was the keyboard player and guitarist of rock band The Cruel Sea, lived in the Northern Rivers for the last 15 years.

Born in Melbourne in 1962, Cruickshank's three-decade career started after joining The Cruel Sea in 1989, aged 27.
He toured Europe with the band and won five ARIA awards.

The musician also played guitar and keyboards for indie pop outfit the Widdershins, before embarking on a solo career.

Mr Cruickshank's has recently started a solo music career, signed with Mullumbimby label Vitamin Records in 2003.

Note to Self was his latest album, self-produced and released in April 2011.

In 2011, James Cruickshank took the role of pipe organist at Sunday mass held at St Kevin's Catholic Church in Bangalow.

Although he was not a Catholic, he sat through the mass and said he often found answers to questions in parish priest Fr Anthony Lemon's sermons.

"You can bring something that is troubling you and you might hear that the answer is forgiveness," he said.

Shortly after taking up residence in the church refectory, a residential space for artists, parishioners asked if he would consider playing the organ as the church had been without an organist for some time.

After agreeing to the gig, he was told to always remember he was playing to a congregation and not an audience and with this in mind the experience has been both humbling and illuminating.



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