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Mike Hart obituary

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Singer-songwriter who sang with the Roadrunners and was a member of the Liverpool Scene

The singer-songwriter Mike Hart, who has died aged 72, sang with the Liverpool band the Roadrunners, and was a member of the poetry and music collective Liverpool Scene, but he will be best remembered for his solo album Mike Hart Bleeds. Released by John Peel’s Dandelion label in 1969, it was an eccentric, defiant record by someone who was prepared to argue his corner. The song Aberfan berates celebrities for crying publicly at the tragedy in the Welsh mining village; Shelter Song criticises the church for not housing the homeless in its huge cathedrals; and Almost Liverpool 8 is a diatribe at the latest girl to leave in his extensive list of doomed relationships. Hart’s album was the antithesis of easy listening and his career was equally edgy: there can be few artists who have so consistently sabotaged their own success.

Hart was born in Bebington, on the Wirral, son of Colin Hart, who ran a sailmakers’ business, William Hart & Co, and his wife, Beryl, and educated at Birkenhead school. In 1962 he formed the Roadrunners, a rhythm and blues band, which had residencies in Liverpool at Hope Hall (now the Everyman theatre) and the Cavern. Roger McGough claimed the group could perform Twist and Shout and Money better than the Beatles, and remembered Hart – “Arty” – as “the wild man in front … [who] was very popular with the ladies. He was weird-looking but he was very charismatic, a Jaggeresque thing.” In 1963, George Harrison told some Liverpool musicians that he had seen the Rolling Stones “who are almost as good as the Roadrunners”. Their tour de force was Cry, Cry, Cry, which Hart would perform passionately, his eyes tight shut as if reliving some past ordeal.

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