Iconic British blues-rock guitarist dies at 79

Legendary Groundhog singer and guitarist dies at 79

British blues legend Tony McPhee. Credit: The Groundhogs/Facebook.com

One of the mainstays of the British blues–rock scene has passed away at the age of 79.

On Tuesday, June 7, the founder of The Groundhogs, Tony (TS) McPhee died peacefully at home, according to the band’s Facebook page.

The online statement read: ‘We are deeply saddened to announce that 79-year-old guitar and blues legend Tony (TS) McPhee, died peacefully at home today 6th June, 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.’

McPhee was born in Humberston in Lincolnshire and formed The Groundhogs, a blues-inspired rock band, with Tony as its charismatic lead singer and guitarist. He was given the moniker TS by a producer who thought it added a more authentic ‘blues’ character to his name, it’s short for Tough S**t.

The band had enjoyed chart success in the early 70s with three UK top ten albums, and continued to tour, albeit with different line ups until Tony’s retirement from the band in 2015.

McPhee suffered a stroke in 2009 which affected his ability to sing. He suffered a fall in 2022 and his health deteriorated thereafter.

Hundreds of tributes have been received: ‘What a truly heartbreaking announcement. I first heard the Groundhogs in 1970, and saw them for the first time at the Hull City Hall. . .Phenomenally hard-working and remarkably talented band, that in my opinion didn’t get anywhere near the recognition they deserved.

‘And as far as I’m concerned Tony McPhee was really a natural successor to Jimi Hendrix. He never really stopped working either. I saw him with another incarnation of the Groundhogs about 20 years back at the Springhead [A well-known Hull music venue] for a paltry fiver. The best fiver I ever spent. ‘

Another said: ‘So very sorry to hear this, such a wonderful bloke, had a few drinks with him and the band, remember one night he spent ages chatting to my son about music, never forget that night. A real gent. Thanks Tony.’

And finally a quote from one of his carers: ‘His wife is amazing, me and my team had the pleasure of caring for Tony. Never have we met such a devoted wife. We will miss seeing Tony, Jo and listening to his amazing music. RIP Tony we will miss you.’

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals. When he's not writing for EWN he enjoys gigging in a acoustic duo, looking after their four dogs, four chickens, two cats, and cycling up mountains very slowly.