MUSIC MATTERS: Recalling great musician and master illustrator - The Coventry Observer

12th Aug, 2022

MUSIC MATTERS: Recalling great musician and master illustrator

Editorial Correspondent 1st Sep, 2018 Updated: 19th Nov, 2018

Harry The Horse


Harry Horse was born in Coventry on May 9th 1960, real name Richard Horne. He was something of a renaissance man.

A master illustrator and superb political cartoonist and a talented author, though it’s his musical skills that brings him to our attention.

He left Coventry for Edinburgh in 1978, where his Harry Horse pen name was created.

From here, he wrote his first book “Oqopogo, My Journey with the Loch Ness Monster” and became the political cartoonist for The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, plus commissions for The Independent and The Observer. He was a fine illustrator and even entered the world of computer games.

Then, there was the band Swamptrash.

They were described as bluegrass meets psychobilly. One commentator said of the band: “Swamptrash really had something special, they were epic.”

Formed in 1987, the band built up a strong reputation, their shows were anarchic often crazy affairs, but Scotland loved them.

Harry played the banjo and sang, and created a pseudo-American persona for the band, as they pretended to be a family of white-trash American cousins.

One of their posters describes them as The Miseries from Missouri – Feature a blend of Cajun & Hillbilly fused with Bluegrass as played only in the Swamplands of the deep south (not bad for a Cov-kid).

Despite the comedic side of the band, their music helped to inspire many other musicians in Scotland. Their very collectable 1987 album ‘It Makes No Never Mind’ had a sound all to itself.

If you think galloping banjos and crazy fiddles plus abrasive vocals and a few well timed ‘Yee-Ha’s’, you are somewhere to imagining what it sounded like.

The album included two covers (Earl Scruggs ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ and Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’), plus a collection of originals including ‘Fisherman’s Last Song’, ‘Pay Me, ‘Mama’s In The Kitchen’ and ‘The Hex Barndance’.

On the album, the cousins became the Scitton Brothers, and Harry became Billy Joe Scritton. The band also released a six track EP entitled ‘Bone’ off their Janice Long session, but eventually split with various members forming the new band Hex.

Harry was known for his kindness, his persona was that of local hero, very much a Joe Strummer type.

He was described as enigmatic and verbose. He moved to Papil, West Burra in The Shetland Islands with the love of his life Mandy, who became ill with multiple sclerosis and on the 10th January 2007 Horne’s body was discovered holding his wife’s body in a double stabbing and suicide pact.

There was much written about what happened that day, some of it exaggerated.

All we know is on that day the world lost a great Coventry musician and genius of a human being.

Rico Star

Legendary Ska trombonist Rico Rodriguez MBE was honoured at the 2-Tone Village last week during the venues charity weekend for children in Uganda.

Rico passed away in 2015, but his daughters Tanya and Faye and his niece Gail were on hand to accept his Ska & Reggae star with Neville and Christine Staple also in attendance.

It was an emotional affair, but a huge feeling of pride for his family.

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