Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

Remembering Stephen Gordon aka Spaceape

Posted in Stephen Gordon aka The Spaceape Humanist Memorial at the Horniman Museum by sheelanagigcomedienne on November 1, 2014

There was a memorial service at the Horniman Museum Pavilion for Stephen Gordon aka The Spaceape.  I was privileged to be asked to preside over it. Stephen died on 2nd October 2014 after a five year battle with a rare form of cancer. He was best known as vocalist-poet-MC The Spaceape.

Spaceape

Spaceape

Stephen’s output was very varied and inventive – very powerful and affecting. I am writing this as he so deserves to have his talent celebrated and more widely known.  He was a handsome, elegant, eloquent, talented and charming man who died too young and is isn’t fair.

Jerry Dammers founder of the Specials paid tribute to Stephen in the Guardian. Jerry Dammers pays tribute to late Hyperdub MC

Stephen recorded a version of the Specials’ Ghost Town with Kode 9, a cover Dammers says is “by far and away the best version from the very very many I have been sent over the years”.

Jerry Dammers Allstars ft Hypnotic Brass & Space Ape …

He also performed with Dammers’ band, the Spatial AKA Orchestra, on many occasions, one of which was the finale of the LoveMusic Hate Racism festival in 2008. Dammer adds: “To me it was fitting that Stephen was the very last artist to voice at that show, carrying to some extent as he did, the Jamaican ‘dub poetry’ tradition, championed in the RAR era by Linton Kwesi Johnson, forward into the ‘dub step’ era of recent years.

“Today I feel a mixture of sadness and anger at the unfairness that someone so talented has died so very young, when he still really wanted, and was very able, to give so much more, and before he received the full recognition he deserved. My condolences go out to his wife and young daughter, and to all his friends.”

Since news of his death was announced, numerous musicians have paid tribute to the artist, such as Nathan Fake, Rob Da Bank and Machinedrum He also collaborated with The Bug, Martyn, Jerry Dammers, Redshape, Dub Gabriel, the Echologist and more. In 2012 he also self-released the Xorcism EP, The Spaceape’s last release was Killing Season, a new EP with Kode9.

Jerry wrote: ‘Stephen was not only a very pleasant and humble person, but remained incredibly brave and positive in the face of his terrible illness. In my view, he produced, with Kode9, amongst the very best, if not THE best, in so called ‘popular’ music from this country, in the last twenty years,” Dammer writes. “The relative lack of recognition he received in the mainstream, reflects on it, not on him, or his talent. But there were plenty of people who did understand.”

He leaves behind his beloved wife Luciana and adored 6 year old daughter, Cleo his Dad Hubert, sisters Beverley, Pauline and bother Noel his loving extended family and many, dear friends and fellow musicians and artists.

 

Spaceape and Kode9

Spaceape and Kode9

 

Kode9 & The Spaceape – The Devil Is A Liar (Hyperdub …

The Spaceape frequently collaborated with Hyperdub founder Steve Goodman aka Kode9. Their collaboration “Sine of the Dub” was the first release on the label. The duo also put out two albums: 2006’s Memories of the Future and 2011’s Black Sun. The duo’s new EP, The Killing Season,  including the video ‘Devil is a Liar’ which was filmed in July 2014 has just been released.

Spaceape and Kode9 cover

Stephen was from south London, was a an avid Man United fan. He attended the London College of Fashion and worked in fashion – Coles Menswear, the Bankrupt Store and Agnes B.  His early stylishness remained. He was also fascinated by film and worked at the BFI to fund his studies at Goldsmith’s University. It was there he met and fell in love with Luciana who was taking a seminar in Philosophy.  Luciana was a friend of Steve Goodman from their student days at Warwick University who became his flatmate.

Spaceape: On The Run (Hyperdub 2012) – YouTube

We heard tributes from his sisters, Beverley and Pauline and his brother Noel and brother in law Kingsley and one sent from his Dad from Jamaica.

The Spaceape and Kode9 – Autumn Is Coming (Visual by …

Stephen made so many friends along the way. His friend Manju, in her tribute told us about their hilarious, first and last effort, at setting up a rave, his friends and flatmates Toby, Roger and Paul spoke about their youthful days and leading on to memories of Stephen and Luciana’s ‘pastafarian’ wedding in Naples in the Maschio Agionino – a 13th century castle. We heard wonderful tributes from Luciana’s family translated by her good friend Tiziana, followed by an account of him as an adoring Dad to Cleo. Finally, we heard about his last five years of illness and his inspirational musical development. spaceape and Kode9 sleeve

Steve Martin aka The Bug  described Stephen as a ‘mesmerising poet, whose passion, invention and increasing mastery of his craft got better year after year and never ceased to hypnotise me’

There will be a memorial bench to Stephen in the Horniman Museum and, of course, contributions to it will be gratefully received.

Steve Goodman, his soul brother, described Stephen’s shy beginnings as a musician singing from under a table to boldly walking amongst his audience to writing about his illness. He wrote: ‘Many of his fans found The Spaceape to be a prophetic voice in difficult times. We are lucky that Stephen will live on for thousands of people through his recorded music’.

space ape 2

 

 

 

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