Born: August 13, 1954;

Died: June 23, 2021.

COLIN Tully, who has died following a short illness, was one of Scotland’s outstanding contemporary music talents. Composer of the music for the film Gregory’s Girl, winner of the Eurovision Song Contest with Ireland’s Johnny Logan, band member with John Martyn and of Cado Belle, Colin was a modest and reserved individual who could have performed with virtually any major international band of recent times.

Instead, he chose to withdraw from the vaulting ambition of popular music to learn, practise and teach the complementary Alexander Technique of posture and to live a relatively quiet life, still writing and performing to a high level with local musicians whose talent he admired.

It may be conventional to start with his achievements but this would deny his great personal integrity, humanity and charm. Colin was a reflective man who eschewed conflict and cultivated peace. A great musical arranger and soloist who sought harmony and contributed positively to any given situation, social or musical.

I first met him in 1973 on his journey from his first group, Up, to the outstanding Cado Belle with Alan Darby, Davy Roy, Maggie Reilly, Stewart MacKillop and Gavin Hodgson. Some of these names will be familiar: Darby went on to play guitar with Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton; Maggie Reilly became vocalist with Mike Oldfield. This was one of the best assemblages of young Scottish contemporary musicians to date, and they achieved a major recording deal with Anchor Records in London.

Colin was born in Glasgow in 1954 and attended Hutcheson’s Grammar School. He was the youngest of five siblings in a very accomplished musical family. His mother played piano, his father – a company representative – was choirmaster at St Ninian’s Episcopalian Church in Pollokshaws, where Colin sang as a choirboy.

Like children of the black southern states of America, this musical education underpinned his career and he emerged as a keyboard player, flautist and saxophonist, subsequently taking a music degree at Glasgow University. Curiously, towards the end of his life he was remembering his early music instruction and composing around Scottish airs and plainsong.

At school, Gavin Hodgson became his soulmate and together with guitarist Jim Yule and drummer Jim Wilson from Helensburgh, they founded Up, an energetic jazz/rock group. My own group performed with them on occasion and, as the second incarnation of Dog Eat Dog, we embarked on a memorable Highland tour in 1974. Davy Roy from Kilchreggan was now the drummer and on the Skye date the support group was Runrig.

The next major step was Cado Belle, where Colin, Davy and Gavin linked up with Stewart and Maggie, from the group Joe Cool, and Alan, who was originally from Dunfermline.

An outstanding eponymous album followed (1976), with songs by Colin and Stewart, lyrics by Alasdair Robertson and produced by erstwhile Fleetwood Mac producer, Keith Olsen.

Managed by the affable John Davies, Cado Belle toured extensively and enjoyed a great deal of critical acclaim but limited commercial success and they folded in 1978. Around that time, and to my eternal gratitude, they collaborated with myself and Brian Young’s Ca Va Studio in Glasgow to produce my own first album The Waxer.

Colin, Maggie and Gavin now moved to Ireland where they worked with the Tralee/Dublin band Stagalee, aka The Pumphouse Gang. This inevitably brought Colin to the attention of the Irish music business and, in 1980, he provided the prominent saxophone part for Johnny Logan’s Eurovision Song Contest winning song - “What’s Another Year?”

A round of European TV show performances followed, as well as a Number One UK single, but Colin had become more interested in the Alexander Technique and decided to follow it as a career.

It took him to Devon and the south west of England where he enjoyed an alternative lifestyle whilst also renewing the acquaintance of film-maker Bill Forsyth. In Glasgow, Colin had written music for Forsyth’s first film That Sinking Feeling (1979) and he was now offered the chance to write the score for Gregory’s Girl (1981). Regrettably, Colin accepted a one-off fee instead of a share of the profits of what would become a clever, iconic and very successful film.

In the 1980s Colin toured with John Martyn’s band and recorded with his outstanding musicians at Ca Va . He also enhanced recordings featuring Terry Neason, Kim Beacon, the Electric Ceilidh Band, Blair Douglas’ groundbreaking Summer in Skye and many more. Much later, there was a wonderful cameo when he and Maggie attended a wedding and accompanied Tina Turner in a rendition of the Beatles’ song, Help!

His first marriage to Anna failed but he retained contact with his children Nuala and Layla and subsequently moved to Monmouthshire on the Welsh/English border where he started a new family. His wife Julia (they married in 1993) then gave birth to daughters Ailsa and Merryn – both now musicians.

More recently, Colin wrote a musical on the life of Charles Rolls (of Rolls Royce fame); went Latin American with various musicians including his long-standing drumming friend Ronnie Goodman; and worked with the group Sensorium with whom he appeared at the Glasgow Jazz Festival in 2012.

His final group was Nuadha, an outstanding quartet whose album Cabin Tales will, in time, find a wider audience. Whilst in remission from illness, Colin decided to write a memoir and his bass player in Nuadha, Carles Riba, managed to secure publication and distribution via Amazon. Earworm is a wonderful and philosophical evocation of a distinctive and memorable musical life.

Maggie Reilly speaks for many when she says “Colin was a gentle, beautiful soul who saw the best in everyone. I will miss him always.”