Catatonia stunned by death of mentor

By David Powell

Welsh pop heroes Catatonia yesterday paid tribute to their guitar technician who tragically died in a road accident.

Barry Cawley, 37, of Denbigh Street, LLanrwst, suffered fatal injuries last Sunday when his bicycle collided with a Fiat car driven by Gerrard Martin Jacovelli, who also died.

Guitarist Mark Roberts told how the band is devastated by the loss of one of their close friends.

And he said that without Y Cyrff, a group which included Barry and two members of the future Catatonia, the current supergroup would not exist.

The horrific accident happened as Barry and two friends cycled to Betws - y - Coed on the old B5106.

Both victims were force off the road in the collision.

Hundreds of family and friends are expected to attend his funeral at Capel Selon in LLanrwst on Monday at 2pm.

He will be dressed in his denim jacket and Levi jeans - as he is remembered.

Mr Roberts revealed that Catatonia's lead singer, Cerys Matthews, is deeply shocked at Barry's sudden death: Cerys is really distraught.

"Everyone has treated like a queen, but Barry would say to her "Get your own water!" which she appreciated. He was somebody who grounded her."

Catatonia is made up of Mark Roberts and Paul Jones, of LLanrwst; Cerys Matthews, who was born in Cardiff and brought up in Swansea; Owen Powell, from Cardiff and Aled Richards from LLanelli.

One early line-up of the group Y Cyrff included Barry, Dylan Huges, and future Catatonia members Paul Jones and Mark Roberts.

Mr Roberts recalled: "I was in the same year as Barry's brother Ian at Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy.

"Barry taught me to play the guitar. My guitar used to get out of tune. When I was

13 I would go around to their house every Thursday.

"I was 13 and he was 18. It shows how patient he was."

When they all formed Y Cyrff in the late eighties lead guitarist Barry was the only one who could drive.

"We started playing gigs in London. We got in the NME and on The Tube and Old Grey Whistle Test," recalled Mr Roberts.

"We toured Europe - Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The fans didn't understand English let alone Welsh, but they liked the music.

"We would do cover version of songs by The Clash then our songs. In the end we stopped trying to be punk because it had died ten years before!"

Y Cyrff broke up, but as Catatonia found worldwide stardom Barry travelled with them from Los Angeles to New York to Tokyo as a guitar technician.

Last year, visited 16 countries with the band rubbing shoulders with other stars.

"His skill was improvising under pressure. If I broke a string on stage he would notice. It would be seamless," added Mr Roberts.

"Maybe he was not as ruthlessly ambitious as the rest of us."

Yesterday Barry Cawley's partner 36-year-old Meryl Harrison, a nurse, bravely prepared to contribute to his funeral service.

"It's awful. We were going to have children. We were soulmates. Barry knew Tom Jones but he was not a show off. He would not brag about," she added.

A recording of "England, Wales and LLanrwst" will be played at the funeral service and all Catatonia are expected to be there.

Barry leaves his parents, who run Cigyddion y Parc Butchers in LLanrwst and three brothers Alan, 39, Peter, 34, and 32-year-old Ian.


Barry C with Cerys Matthews from Catatonia

Friends: Barry Cawley with Catatonia's Cerys Matthews, who is said to be completely devastated by his death
Picture: Gerallt Jones

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