Jono Willis 1975-2019

Tributes have been paid to musician Jono Willis who passed away just before Christmas. He was 44. Guitarist Jono’s life on the local scene began back in the early 1990s when he played in the band Plum. He went on to front The Jono Willis Retrospective and later played in The Factory Lights; Nightshift Demo of the Month winners Stolby, and most recently Edwin & the Keepers. He also worked with Oxford stars The Bigger the God and The Daisies on tour. Jamie Hyatt who played alongside Jono’s brother Mark in The Daisies and Medal said: “Jono was my good friend for over 30 years. We lived together in different houses during our journey into adulthood. He was a funny, clever, passionate human and a great musician with a quick turn of phrase. I have so many excellent memories of him: messing about in comedy sketches at the youth centre; singing our hearts out in my old Escort van; getting held up by a gunman whilst flyposting; writing silly songs; running naked through Freeland woods; playing gigs; watching gigs; playing badminton – and never ever beating him – praying to the god of football in 2005, and most recently when we were chit-chatting at our weekly pottery club. “Jono was someone I was looking forward to getting old with and I wish I’d told him how important he was when he was around.” Factory Lights bandmate Ant Kelly added: “He was a very good friend of mine and was the original guitarist in the Factory Lights. He was unique and talented fella. The riff he played on ‘The Old School Wall’ is so simple, yet hauntingly beautiful and will remain with me forever.” Mark Taylor knew Jono for over 25 years and worked with him during his time touring with The Bigger the God; he said of his old friend: “Jono was vibrant, cheeky and immensely funny. He always had a sparkle in his eye and could light up any gathering. Whenever you saw him it was like you had only seen him the day before, even if it had been much longer, conversation would flow seamlessly. The two years I spent on the road with him and The Bigger The God are filled with wonderful memories and many funny stories, but he also had a serious, caring side and was able to advise on many subjects – often over a pub table!” John McManus, who played with Jono in Edwin & the Keepers said: “We’re heartbroken to have lost Jono. He was a subtle and inventive guitarist that we’d have listened to all day and his songwriting was becoming invaluable to us. There’s a massive hole stage-right, and in our lives. He was scabrously funny, sharp as hell, generous, and absolutely one of the good ones.”

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