Ray Owen

Ray Owen

Singer Ray Owen passed away on 31 October 2018.

From Mick Clarke:

Towards the end of Killing Floor's life (first incarnation) we used to play regularly at a place called the Cafe Des Artists.. somebody, possibly Lou, rechristened it the Cafe Disaster. Anyway it was a lively place in Earls Court, as far as I remember. They didn't sell alcohol there so we would always go to the pub first to get in the mood, and sometimes take a bottle of something along to the gig. In fact I can only ever remember being completely legless during those gigs, to the point where I remember crawling underneath the piano one night to get on stage. Whether it was actually necessary as a way of getting on stage I couldn't tell you.

During those gigs we would often be joined on stage by a charismatic figure closely resembling Jimi Hendrix, who would belt out a version of, I think, "Rock Me Baby" or something similar. Ray was already known to us as he had been a member of the band Juicy Lucy, and had had a hit record with a fine version of "Who Do You Love". He had a strong, powerful voice and an imposing stage presence.

Later, when KF was looking for a new singer we thought of Ray. He fitted in immediately, and turned out to be a surprisingly self effacing character with a lively sense of humour. He was usually to be found rolling yet another joint whilst giggling to himself and muttering "what a state..". I'll always remember a long road trip to Cornwall or somewhere, with Ray sitting in the back of the bus sticking little self adhesive stars all over his Flying V guitar. Between stoned giggles I remember him adopting a northern accent.. "I'd rather have my lad sticking stars on 'guitar than out causing trouble".. back to the stoned giggles.

The Flying V was actually a bone of contention, as Ray had joined the band as a singer, but over a period was playing more and more guitar which caused a little friction with the lead guitarist. Ray actually did tell us that he was somehow a reincarnation of the late Jimi H who had come to him in a dream. He also had strong theories that he was actually from a planet called Venusia, so conversations with Ray could become slightly fanciful. And yet he also was so down to earth, and would take us in to visit his white foster parents in their terraced house in Tooting, with the mynah bird squawking in the corner.

Onstage Ray was a powerful presence who always held the audience's attention. Over a period we learned some of his original songs, and the band adopted a looser jamming style which was a good departure from the more structured material which we had started with a few years earlier. We played some great gigs, but to be honest I was too stoned to remember much of it.. it was the early 70s.. that's how it was.

I never saw Ray again after the Killing Floor days but he continued to work his own band Moon and a new version of Juicy Lucy, still performing up to the time of his death. A great talent and remarkable personality. As it was put to me "the Captain's on his way back to Venusia".. have a good trip Ray.

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