Graeme “Leary” Lear

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Graeme “Leary” Lear

Sleepy Hollow Blues Club supporters descended on the recent Motor City Music Festival, enjoying the fantastic blues on the program. In the midst of it all was Graeme Lear, Leary to one and all. The Monday after the Festival, March 9, Leary passed away in his sleep.
Leary will be recognised and remembered for his long term involvement in the Geelong music scene, playing in various bands and as a solo artist. He was the lead vocalist, guitarist and saxophone player in the popular Backstreet Blues Band.
Backstreet’s line up included Kelvin Plumb on guitar, vocals and harp, Steve Minotoli on drums and Craig Chiller on bass, and Gary Marshall (Pointy) on keys (at a later time JP on drums and Sandy Brady on bass).
Backstreet played at the first Bluestone New Year’s Eve blues festival at the Inverleigh Hotel 20 years ago this year.
They would have everyone up and dancing during their Sunday night residency at the Delaville Hotel (now known as the Black Hatt) and many of his devoted followers would go wherever his band was playing.
Leary used to pride himself on having brought several of his band followers together – who went on to have long term relationships – and the band played at some of their weddings.
We also remember Leary at the crazy club camping trips and the many other Blues Festivals (Maldon / Port Fairy etc), where he would entertain us, not only musically but with his wicked sense of humour and his huge hugs!
Leary had many strings to his bow, being well known in his beloved community of Inverleigh – helping out, being MC and more recently with the Canoe Club.
He also helped Murray Walker to set up the now famous Tombstone Country Music Charity Fund raising events in Teesdale and entertaining his much loved Boat Club out at the Grammar School. He was also a well-known solo artist at the Geelong RSL, Buckley’s Entertainment Centre and Backstreet Blues band at the Lord Nelson Tavern.
Leary was a regular attender at the Sleepy Hollow Blues Club monthly gigs, and would frequently jump into the lively jam sessions, which are a feature of those gigs.
No doubt others have many different fond stories of his antics and ditties, some of which were shared at his funeral and wake on March 20 held appropriately at the Inverleigh Hotel.
Leary was a larger than life personality, a great musician, and a good mate who added to the lives of those he mixed with. He will be missed by everyone that knew him and we will remember his last song of any gig with ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’.
We extend our deepest sympathy to Graeme’s family. Vale Leary.
By Sue Pope