Guitar coffin for funeral of Ramrods star musician John Graham
DURING his life he was known for his love of the guitar.
And as family and friends came to say their final farewells to John Graham, the former member of the Ramrods was buried in a replica of his beloved Fender Stratocaster.
John, who had played lead guitar with the Cheltenham group in the 1960s, was given a fitting send-off yesterday.
His widow June had asked Beechwood Funeral Directors to create a 12ft guitar-shaped coffin for him.
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And with a Shadows tribute band playing Apache, John's coffin was brought into the sanctuary at St Andrew's URC in Montpellier Street.
It was the same church in which he had married June 20 years earlier.
Rather than hymns, June had asked Jimmy Jermain and the Shadow of Cliff to perform some of the tracks that John loved during the service.
John had been a big fan of The Shadows, citing Hank Marvin as one of his influences.
Among the tracks chosen were Born to Rock and Roll, Only Angel and, John's favourite song, Travelling Light.
John died last week after battling lung cancer for 14 months. He had already beaten a brain tumour, which he had been diagnosed with in 2001.
June, who met John at a rehearsal for a band reunion in 1992, said her husband had fought the disease to the end.
She added: "John was the most wonderful, gentle, passive, loving husband. He was so brave. He fought to the end with dignity and pride."
His grandchildren Liam, Harry, Charlie, Callum and Florence have all followed in his musical footsteps.
Former Ramrods drummer Nige Cull was among the band members at the service.
The 67-year-old, from The Reddings, had been with the group for three years in the 1960s.
He added: "It was certainly a very different funeral. I've never seen anything like it before.
"It has started me thinking about what I'll be buried in – it's a little harder when you are the drummer. I hadn't seen John for 20 years but there were a lot of familiar faces here."
Nige said it had brought back memories of the times when they had been starting out in the group.
"I can still remember when we used to head to Imperial Gardens to have our picture taken," he said.
"We would be leaping off the steps. Of course, it was a lot easier when we were 17."
John also leaves a daughter, Anna, who he had with his first wife, Pauline.
Next week, the Echo will run previously-unseen extracts of John Graham's diary dated from his days in The Ramrods.