Bryn Merrick on far left. Image source: crypticrock.com
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Former bassist with The Damned, hellraiser, general mischief, and lovable rogue, Bryn Merrick, has unfortunately passed away after a long battle with cancer. On Saturday the 12th of September, Bryn’s family and friends shared the sad news, adding that he had passed peacefully in the early hours of the morning. He was just 56.
Bryn Merrick began his musical career jamming with friends in his hometown of Barry, which would eventually lead to the formation of Barry and Cardiff-based punk legends Victimize in the late 70s. After the demise of Victimize, Bryn went on to join The Damned in 1983 – replacing Paul Gray who had left to join UFO – and thus cemented his place in punk history.
His official studio debut with The Damned came via their single ‘Thanks For The Night’, and it’s B-side ‘Nasty’ (written for and performed on an episode of The Young Ones); alongside his former Victimize band mate, Roman Jugg, becoming a full time member of the band. Bryn went on to play with The Damned until their split/hiatus in 1989, recording two of the band’s most commercially successful albums, Phantasmagoria and Anything, and their biggest selling single to date, ‘Eloise’.
Alongside his being in The Damned, Bryn also recorded the album Give Daddy the Knife Cindy with Naz Nomad and the Nightmares in 1984; a one-off, psychedelic, side-project featuring the members of The Damned performing under different monikers. Then, after The Damned went on hiatus, he went on to form the gothic, rockabilly band Dave Vanian and the Phantom Chords, in 1990, with his Damned cohorts Roman Jugg and Dave Vanian (of course), with whom he played until 1995.
Having spent some time off the grid, so to speak, in recent years, Bryn had enjoyed spending his time playing in a successful Ramones tribute band called The Shamones, alongside lifelong friend and Victimize band mate Andy Johnson, making his musical circle complete; speaking to unofficial Damned website Second Time Around in 2012, Bryn said the first two punk bands he heard were The Damned and the Ramones.
Speaking on his best friend and band mate, Andy Johnson had this to say; ‘He was loved and adored by everyone who met him. He was a true rebel and lived life in the fast lane. If you made friends with him, it was for life. He hadn’t a bad bone in his body. Everyone who knew him knew of his crazy character and there will be plenty of stories to tell in the coming weeks and months. But, when all is said and done he was just a ‘great bloke!’
Having actually gotten to meet Bryn a number of times myself, I can only say that that is exactly the impression I got of him myself. On the occasions I met him, Bryn always seemed to be full of life, sporting a cheeky grin or a wicked smile (there’s a difference), and always ready with any number of anecdotes from back in the day (each more hilarious and outrageous than the last), but he was always very humble and down to earth. Even with an air of mischief about him, like he was always up to no good.
Captain Sensible of The Damned posted on Facebook his sorrow upon hearing news, and how it came to the band just before they were going on stage at Chicago Riot Fest, so their set was ‘dedicated to the great man – just before we played his fave song, Ignite. Bryn liked the fast stuff… it was the way he lived his life.’ Wes Orshoski, director of documentary films like Lemmy and one currently in production on The Damned, also posted about the news online, stating ‘He’s definitely one of my favorite people who I met while making the film… A good man, a good friend, and a fantastic human being.’
Bryn is survived by his partner of sixteen years Simone Harris, his daughter Ella, his sons Christian and Richard, and Harris’s daughter Heidi. His last post online reads;