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The musician who wrote classic riffs for songs including The Passenger had Parkinson’s disease, a post on his website dated May 17, confirmed the news of his passing to fans with the words: 'It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Ricky Gardiner Guitarist Songwriter/ Composer. Ricky passed away in his sleep early in the morning of Friday the 13th of May. He had been suffering from Parkinson PSP for the last 12 years of his life. We thank you for privacy at this time and welcome donations to https://pspassociation.org.uk to help to raise awareness of this rare condition.
'Love and Light, Virginia and all the Gardiner family.'
Born in Edinburgh in 1948, the self taught musician joined his first band while still at school. Inspired by Yuri Gagarin and the Russian space mission of the same name, Gardiner's first band was The Vostoks in 1962, although it was for his own band Beggars Opera, a progressive rock outfit formed from in 1969 that he would find success.
He also played extensively with friends David Bowie and Iggy Pop, playing lead guitar for Bowie on his 1977 album Low. In the same year he worked with Pop on Lust for Life, including The Passenger, for which he wrote the music. The song is considered to be one of Pop's finest. Gardiner and Bowie also toured with Pop for his album The Idiot, Bowie was on keyboards.
Paying tribute to Gardiner, Pop wrote: “Dearest Ricky, lovely, lovely man, shirtless in your coveralls, nicest guy who ever played guitar.”
In 1995, Gardiner released what he considered his most significant solo work, Auschwitz, an instrumental marking the 50th anniversary of the camp’s liberation.
He once reflected in an interview with dmme.net, ‘My teenage years were spent in the suburbs of Glasgow which was also the home for a considerable number of Glaswegian Jewish families. At my school around a third of the pupils were from Jewish homes. Therefore, I grew up with many Jewish friends…
‘One day I was working on some guitar sounds… A little way into the piece I started to realise that something special was happening… At the end I felt a real sense of peace. I then went downstairs and heard on the news that Jews from all over the world were gathering for the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. I realised the that the piece of music must be called Auschwitz.’
In 1998 Gardiner he was diagnosed with electro-sensitivity, which caused him to feel ill around electronic devices.He once revealed: ‘I cannot go near television, computers of any type, CD players, FM radio, fluorescent lights, microwave ovens, mobile phones, induced magnetic fields, power supplies... Above all I can not go into a recording studio so I have spent years endeavouring to adapt my own studio so that I can try and work to some extent.'