Mike in 1966

Mike Colman

1951 - 2010

Mike Colman

And so another one falls........

After the tragic and untimely death of Rivers Job in 1979, the passing of Mike Colman now leaves only four of the six full Anon members alive. He was undoubtedly the most prodigiously gifted of us all - a music scholar, highly adept at both piano and violin, he just sort of took up the guitar and played it without any seeming effort!

Thankfully at this stage known as Mick (hence avoiding any confusion with Mike Rutherford, the man he briefly replaced!), he fitted in very quickly and contributed some wonderful touches to the group - in particular his magnificent tremolo-wielding solo on the outro of the sadly-lost Brian Roberts recording of ''Pennsylvania Flickhouse'' (immeasurably better than the weak, feeble, anodyne version recorded at a 'proper' studio sometime later).

We became good friends, both sitting at the back in the 'jokers' class of chemistry & maths (inveterately useless at both) with maverick characters such as the legendary Philip Darwall Smith who was brazen and bold enough to go up to the b.odourly-challenged master, Mr X, spray him with Right Guard and get away with it!

Mick wasn't academic, sporty or much of an establishment man : as with Mike R, he found himself billeted in Lockites under the malign and sadistic eye of the notorious 'Hacker' Chare. T'was not easy to prosper there.......  

I remember he had a bit of a 'burr' to his voice and think his parents lived in Bournemouth /Dorset, but he was able to come to London a lot during the holidays and he would always talk about this half-brother /cousin (?), Mart who was four years our senior and sounded impossibly cool, dating glamorous women galore; as we roamed the streets of London in our moderately disaffected teenager mode, many would be the story of Mart's exploits. I never clapped eyes on him - perhaps he never existed ..?!  My Mother remembers a very polite, decent and appreciative 14 year-old when we took him to see 'Tales of Hoffman' by Offenbach (at that stage, not my scene at all though Mick could appreciate both!)

He was a good and loyal friend to me. He dutifully learnt many of the probably awful songs I wrote at that time and was both excellent, cheerful & encouraging in his execution of them.

Yet it all happened so quickly. There is a gap in memory. We never fell out, there was no parting of the waves. But by December '66, Mike R was back in the group and Genesis came into being not six months hence. I have no recollection of him at that time. Did he fall foul of Hacker and leave? Many did at that time - and not just from Lockites - as public schools fought hard to adapt to the changing mores of the Sixties.......

So my encounter with Mike Colman was, in a way, a heady vignette. But he was a terrific musician and incredibly nice guy and I will always remember him with fondness and gratitude. It saddens me greatly to hear of the suffering of his later years and my thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.   It is comforting, however, to think of him serenading the angels with his own mellifluous brand of playing. Hit that tremolo, Mick !

AP 

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Mike left Charterhouse in early 1967 and apart from a phone call to Ant during the Seventies (when Mike was living in Norwich and running a record shop), none of the other members of Anon had had any contact with him since then.  Fast forwarding thirty years to 1997, I was in the middle of writing an article for Ant's fan club magazine The Pavilion about Anon - I'd tracked down all the surviving members of the band to interview them and was naturally interested in getting in touch with Mike if I could.  It wasn't easy but to cut a long story short contact was established when the phone rang one evening and it was Mike, who was by then living in Stroud. He hadn't thought about his time at Charterhouse and playing with Anon for many years but he had some good memories which he kindly agreed to share.  My contact with Mike had come too late for the original article but after he'd read it he offered to write an article of his own.  The next issue of our magazine subsequently included Mike's excellent feature 'A Blast From The Past', in which he recalled not only his time with Anon but also offered an insight into life at Charterhouse at the time.

Mike and I kept in touch for a while afterwards although I hadn't heard from him for several years so it was a pleasant surprise to receive an e-mail from him out of the blue last year when he asked if I still had the text of his original article as he was having trouble locating it.  Mike also mentioned that he had been very ill for some time - this came as a shock to me as I had no idea that he had suffered a bought of pneumonia in 2003 and had subsequently been given 18 months to live by the doctors so he had been living on borrowed time for the last six years.  I found the text of the article and sent it off to Mike - he e-mailed me a couple of weeks later later saying how much he enjoyed it seeing it again and shared a couple more memories of his time with Anon that the article had reminded him of.  Sadly this was to be the last contact I had with him.

Mike has been described as a free spirit and that was certainly the impression I had of him but I also found him to be very down-to-earth and friendly and he was very generous with his time for me.  I got the feeling that even though his time with Anon was by now over 40 years ago and was only a very brief period in his life, it was still something that he looked back on with some pride and affection.  I'm very glad that I did manage to find Mike and had the chance to get to know him a little.

Jonathan Dann


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