The saddest news ever published on the official website of Brendan Croker was published on the 10th of September 2023.
Namely the news that day was that Brendan sadly passed away at the age of 70. Brendan was born on 15th August 1953. He was a respected musician as well as a member of Mark Knopfler’s Notting Hillbillies band.
The splinter group’s sole studio album ‘Missing…Presumed Having a Good Time’ reached No.2 in the UK in 1990. Yorkshire-born musician led his own band the Five O’Clock Shadows and was a longtime friend and collaborator of Mark Knopfler.
In the late 1980s, Croker was a member of Sally Timms and the Drifting Cowgirls. He was also an auxiliary member of punk veterans the Mekons. Brendan collaborating with Eric Clapton, Chet Atkins, Kevin Coyne, Tanita Tikaram, and others.
However, it is his enduring collaboration with Knopfler that will undoubtedly etch him into musical history. In particular, his role as a key member of the splinter group known as the Notting Hillbillies was initiated by Knopfler during the late days of Dire Straits.
This union resulted in the creation of their sole studio album, “Missing… Presumed Having a Good Time,” which made its debut in 1990. This remarkable album not only secured a No. 2 spot on the UK charts but also climbed to No. 6 in Australia, where it went gold.
Brendan Croker’s musical journey spans various collaborations and solo endeavors. In the 1980s, he contributed to five albums alongside the Five O’Clock Shadows, commencing with 1985’s “Central Station Hotel.”
Additionally, he joined forces with Dire Straits’ Guy Fletcher for the 1988 release “On The Big Hill” and participated in two albums with the Serious Offenders in the early 1990s. During this decade, Croker embarked on a prolific solo career, starting with “Country Blues Guitar” in 1990 and producing five more albums.
His extensive body of work received recognition in the form of the 2000 compilation “Not Just A Hillbilly… More Like a Best of Brendan Croker”.
Mark Knopfler shared the following message to the world after Croker passed away. Namely, he wrote:
“It’s a sad farewell to an old friend in song Brendan Croker who has succumbed to leukemia. You’ll probably read more about Brendan in obituaries soon. He was a true artist in every way and appeared eccentric to many but was positive, brave, and generous to a fault.”
He continued: “We had many happy years sharing music including touring and singing with our mutual pal Steve Phillips in the Notting Hillbillies. The song I can hear Brendan singing now is the one we used to finish our set with, ‘Feel Like Going Home’. My thoughts are with Brendan’s partner Ali and their friends everywhere.”
According to his official website biography, Brendan Croker’s musical journey was serendipitous. In 1976, Croker and Steve Phillips became neighbors. Their musical connection was born when Croker presented Phillips with a guitar in dire need of repair, described as “like a banana.” After that, their collaboration proved unbreakable, as Phillips stated, “I never got loose from him” after that initial encounter.
Their path intertwined with Mark Knopfler’s through Phillips, who had already formed a friendship with the Dire Straits legend. Prior to this connection, Croker and Knopfler had previously jammed together in the Leeds music scene.
Knopfler, intrigued by Croker’s musical talent, decided to lend his support. And assisted the duo in the sessions he brought along Guy Fletcher, who played keyboard and guitar with Dire Straits.
Under Knopfler’s guidance, Croker’s musical network expanded to include London musicians. The culmination of this collaboration was the formation of the Notting Hillbillies. A project that continues to hold a special place in Knopfler’s heart to this day, showcasing the enduring impact of their musical union.