Tributes are paid to Rockfield co-founder Charles Ward

Friday 5th August 2022 4:00 pm
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Archive pics of Charles Ward from Rockfield Studio above and top right ()

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TRIBUTES have been paid to the co-founder of the legendary Rockfield Studios, farmer and musician Charles Ward.

He founded the studios on the outskirts of Monmouth with brother Kingsley in the mid-1960s, and they went on to host the birth of some of the world’s most famous tracks and albums.

The studios posted last Wednesday (July 27): “It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Charles Ward, Kingsley’s brother and co-founder of Rockfield Studios, and founder of Monnow Valley Studios, died last night.

“Our thoughts are with his family Brigitte, Corrina and Charles.

“Rockfield Studios began in the early 60s after Charles and Kingsley’s band, The Charles Kingsley Creation, went to London where some of Charles’ songs were recorded by Joe Meek.”

They also posted some archive photos, saying: “To us, these photos sum the brothers up perfectly – wellies, guitars and recording! RIP Charles....

“It’s rock ‘n’ roll man.”

Hundreds responded to the post, Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess saying: “Charles was a force of nature with a beautiful heart. Love to everyone who knew him and all his family and friends.”

Former Dire Straits drummer Terry Williams added: “So sad to hear this. Such a nice guy. My thoughts are with the family.”

The Joe Meek Society posted: “Condolences from all at The Joe Meek Society. Thank you for the music.”

One poster said: “RIP. What a great legacy he leaves behind. His name will always be remembered as the co founder of Rockfield Studios.”

Another added: “Charles, you live on in the wonderful legacy you & Kingsley created in Rockfield & Monnow Valley. Condolences to all your family. RIP fella.”

Others remembered his farming and concern for the environment, one post saying: “So many good memories… the one which I fondly recall, Charles and Kingsley, steaming milk churns in hand, walking up Rockfield drive on a frosty winter morning.”

And recalling his days in a band, another said: “What a great legacy he has left. I remember The Charles Kingsley Combo from Monmouth Youth Club and bought their Single ‘Summer Without Sun’. RIP Charles.”

The converted Rockfield barn became the first residential studio in the world, and has played host to the likes of Queen, who created Bohemian Rhapsody there, Oasis, who recorded million-selling album What’s the Story (Morning Glory), and Coldplay, who wrote worldwide hit Yellow there.

It was celebrated in a 2020 documentary Rockfield: The Studio On The Farm, and other artists to record there include David Bowie, The Stone Roses, Black Sabbath, the Manic Street Preachers, Robert Plant, The Charlatans, Iggy Pop and Paulo Nutini, whose latest album recorded at Rockfield, went to No 1 last month.

Charles founded the studios with Kingsley on the family farm after their bid to record at EMI in London was rejected by ‘fifth Beatle’ George Martin.

Their band were regulars on the local circuit, and many older residents have fond memories of seeing them play at the likes of rhe Rolls Hall.

After leaving Rockfield, he went on to found the nearby Monnow Valley Studios in the 1980s, where Oasis worked on their first album, and the likes of Stereophonics, Simple Minds and Delphic also recorded.

Ozzy Osbourne has previously paid tribute to Rockfield’s role in allowing Black Sabbath to develop the sound that would eventually come to be known as heavy metal, telling the BBC: “We were very loud and Rockfield allowed us the freedom because no one would allow us to play as loud as that. The roof tiles were rattling.

“We didn’t think, ‘let’s invent heavy metal’, it just happened. Rockfield will always be a part of me. I can go and live in Beverly Hills but for some reason I end up back in Rockfield. It’s just magic.”

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