December 21, 1988 – Paul Avron Jeffreys was born on February 13, 1952. Paul grew up above his parents dry cleaning shop in East Ham, London.
On bass, he was a starting member of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and played on the first two Cockney Rebel albums titled, “The Human Menagerie” and “The Psychomodo”.
John Crocker remembers Cockney Rebel: “it may have been through an ad in Melody Maker but do I remember Steve and I auditioning Paul and then getting together with Stuart Elliott to see how they worked together. We all realised straight away what a solid rhythm section they made and, if you consider that he had a fondness for Captain Beefheart, Paul was very sensitive to what we were trying to achieve and soon became a much-loved member of the band. Paul had a rare talent – he was very intuitive and I really don’t ever remember him having any problem choosing what to play or how to play it for the best effect.
Paul could often seem to be a little reserved and yet he was never afraid to be outrageous when he needed to make himself heard or just perhaps just change the mood when things got too serious. One of the things I will never forget about him was his habit of wearing about four or five layers of t-shirts and thin jumpers all year round; I never did figure this out.
Although we kept in touch after we left Cockney Rebel, I regret never having the pleasure of playing with Paul outside of the band. We were very bitter about the way the Cockney Rebel split was presented to the media. The real story was never told at the time and I know Paul felt the need to simply put it behind him and get on with the rest of his life. Paul brought happiness to everyone he met and, even if he knew that time was short, I’m sure he could not have tried harder”.
He worked with a number of British bands, including Be Bop Deluxe, Chartreuse, the Warm Jets and the Electric Eels. Paul lived and loved music and was a great admirer of the legendary Captain Beefheart.
In 1988 Paul got married to Rachel Jones and sadly they both lost their lives over the skies of Lockerbie, Scotland on the way to their US honeymoon, when PanAm flight 103, came crashing down as the result of a Libyan terrorist bomb.
Paul was known as a very likable and popular person and even though his death was many years ago the memories of this man are still fresh and alive in our minds and hearts. Adrian Large remembers Paul in his last band The One Pacific:
Paul and I got together initially to do some writing and as a result, along with Milton, we produced a dance track called Work which went out as a twelve inch on a little label which was called Shigaku I think. It certainly didn’t bother the charts at all as far as I know.
We decided to put a band together, as much for mutual therapy as anything else. You probably recall that Paul was pretty disenchanted with the whole music business, and it was really our intention to do the whole thing ourselves. I had just come out of a no-hope deal with Chas Chandler, and pretty much shared Paul’s ambivalence to getting a deal. And the music we were making didn’t fall into one category. Some of the songs could be classed as jazz, some world music, some dance, some New York Talking Heads sort of stuff, others very British (think XTC), and always with Paul’s passion for Captain Beefheart as an underlying influence.
Anyway, The One Pacific was the name of the band and started out with a hefty line up of Paul on bass, myself on guitar and vocals, two backing singers, keyboards, trumpet, drums and percussion. Predictably, the size of the line-up made this unit pretty unwieldy, and after a couple of gigs (at the Half Moon in Herne Hill I think) it more or less imploded and we settled on a fine collection of Paul and myself, Pedro Ortiz on kit, Nick Miller on percussion, Rob Johnson on guitar, Chareen Parsley and Phoenix on backing vocals. Pedro wandered off at some point and was replaced by Bill Dare. Lynn Cooper joined on vocals when Phoenix went back to the States. With this line-up we did the usual gigs… Mean Fiddler, Half Moon, Swan in Putney, Zeta’s club in Putney, the Powerhouse I think etc etc.
We made a video of one of the songs and were plunged straight back into the Kafkaesque world of the music business. Initially accepted for airplay by MTV, it was then rejected because we weren’t signed to a label. When we explained that we didn’t want to sign to a label and that the video was to promote the band not a record company, the conversations went round in ever decreasing circles until we gave up on that idea……….
Some line-up changes followed when Rob Johnson left to start his own band (taking Nick aka Slippery Miller with him) this was an amicable split to the point that Paul was seriously interested in managing them – The Rabbits.
We had to employ a guitarist and a keyboard player to replace Robbie, but it was evident to Paul and I that we weren’t going where we wanted and in the weeks leading up to his death we were seriously discussing the idea of starting a club night in the new year following his return from the states. We wanted to get back to where we had started, with a much more alternative approach to making music (and making a living from it). We hoped to be able to explore where we wanted to go musically and provide a platform for other artists to do the same….
Of all the people I have met in my life, Paul was the most gentle, generous, creative, mischievous, grounded of them all, and it was extraordinary that he met his soul mate in Rachel. They were perfect for each other and I can honestly say that there is hardly a day when I don’t think of them. Their death was a devastating loss, but their lives were an immeasurable gift.
We organized the Mean Fiddler gig and we got together as many ex members of the band as we could. Some couldn’t make it and others couldn’t face it. Afterwards I felt tremendous guilt that I hadn’t asked other players to take part, but it was such an agonising thing to do that my head wasn’t really working. So, if you have the space on your site please pay tribute to people like Paul Balance, Majick, Joe, and all the others I didn’t know who should have been there. By the way, we raised over £1500 that day and the proceeds went to Greenpeace and a Trauma centre in the States which had saved the life of the boyfriend of one of Rachel’s friends.
Paul died on Dec 21, 1988 at the age of 36.