THE next time you hear thunder in the sky listen closely, it just might be the booming sound of Dave Meredith’s bass guitar.

Because the Worcestershire lad who laid down the riffs for Deep Feeling, one of the country’s leading psychedelic rock bands of the late 60s/early 70s and became the first British bassman to back American legend Jimi Hendrix, has died at the age of 78.

At the cutting edge of a new musical style, Deep Feeling was the group with whom Hendrix made his UK debut, when he guested with it during a gig at London’s Knuckles club in 1966.

Gordon Jackson, the band’s rhythm guitarist, later explained: “Viv Prince used to help us get gigs at influential London venues and one night he had us booked at a club called Knuckles and invited a few celebs along, among them Paul McCartney.

“Chas Chandler (bass player with The Animals) was also there and asked if someone he had with him could jam with us. We weren’t keen, but Viv persuaded us and a young black guy with a Stratocaster duly climbed on stage.

“We played a 12-bar blues and watched in amazement as he exploded into all sorts of contortions, making his guitar do things we didn’t believe possible, even with his teeth. His hands moved so fast they were a blur.

“After a while Luther Grosvenor (Deep Feeling’s lead guitarist) and I went out front to watch, leaving Dave on bass, Poli Palmer on vibes and Jim Capaldi on drums to lay down the rhythm. We later learnt this was the first time Jimi Hendrix had played anywhere in the UK.”

In a way, Dave Meredith was born to be a rock star because he arrived into the world at the Lucy Baldwin Nursing Home in Stourport on Severn, shortly before another baby who was to do rather well in the same groove, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.

However his parents, who were in the licensed trade, moved down to south Worcestershire to take over the Bell Inn at Eckington, near Pershore, from his grandmother.

Young Dave inherited his musical talent from his piano playing mother, but  being a teenager in the late 1950s picked up a guitar.

OFF THE WALL: A promotional shot for the group

OFF THE WALL: A promotional shot for the group

His first successful band was The Cherokees, which made a name for itself across the area and appeared at Malvern Winter Gardens several times. But it was with Deep Feeling that brief fame beckoned.

The band began life in 1964 as the Hellions and pulled together some of Worcestershire’s leading musicians.

Dave Mason, whose musical talent was unashamedly bankrolled by his father Ted – or ‘Choccy’ as he was known after the family sweet shop in Angel Place, Worcester – came from the Jaguars with all his kit to play lead guitar; Dave gave up dressing as a native American and playing with the Cherokees from Bredon, to take on bass; Jim Capaldi, already long established as the front man of Evesham’s Sapphires, was on lead vocals/drums; rhythm guitarist Gordon Jackson was from Worcester’s Unit Five and the city’s finest, the jazz influenced Poli Palmer, played drums, flute and vibes.

This line-up cut four records for Pye and shared management with icons like the Walker Brothers and PJ Proby.

Inevitably the diverse personalities of Mason and Capaldi clashed and Dave left to be roadie for the Spencer Davis Group.

Guitarist Luther Grosvenor replaced him and the band had a name change to Deep Feeling. It rapidly made a name for itself as a psychedelic rock band of the Flower Power era, but on the cusp of real recognition, Feeling folded when Jim departed to join the newly formed Traffic.

He later went on to a solo career, while Poli featured in the cult band Family, Luther Grosvenor became Ariel Bender, lead guitarist of  Mott the Hoople, and Gordon recorded a superb solo album Thinking Back, released in 1969.

Only Dave quit the rock scene and became an insurance salesman – The Man From The Pru!

However in 1986 he found his true niche in the family tradition, when with Jane, his wife and partner of 38 years, he took over the Swan Inn at Denham Village, Uxbridge.

The couple went on to run several establishments in the Home Counties – including the prestigious Stag and Hounds at Ascot – before moving back up to Worcestershire and buying their own pub, the Dolphin at Bishampton, which they had for five years before retiring in 2004. At which point the former rock musician became an avid Throckmorton gardener.

Within the last four month, Dave developed acute pancreatitis and died in Worcestershire Royal Hospital following complications with Covid-19.

He leaves wife Jane, sons Lee and Craig and step-sons Tim and Chris.

“He was a wonderful husband, father and step-father and we will all miss him so much,” said Jane.

Dave Meredith’s funeral service will be at 2pm on Thursday, April 15, at The Vale Crematorium, Evesham, before moving on to Pershore Cemetery.