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Bands reunite to play at memorial gig for Punk Ben
WHEN Ben Fletcher took his own life last year, his friends and family were devastated – but the popular Southend punk fan will be celebrated in style as his pals throw him a memorial music bash to be remembered. Dedicated to Punk Ben, as he was known by all on the local music scene, the event on Saturday will see several of his favourite local bands reformed just for the evening, with people flying in from places as far apart as Japan and Sweden to take part. The night will see the reformation of bands including Affray – who haven’t played together for ten years – the Milksnatchers in their first outing since 2008, old school punk veterans Nuclear Anarchy PLC, Deathskulls, Dogbite and Hotwired.
One of the event organisers Dean Ward first met Ben when the pair were just 16. They were close friends up until Ben’s death last October, when he died just 30. Dean says” “Our friend from Japan couldn’t afford to come over for the funeral. “I spoke to him and he was crying. We were all heartbroken. My heart sank when we started organising this and we just all thought, ‘He’s got to come over for this’, so we all chipped in and raised the money for his ticket. All the bands playing were bands Ben liked, local bands, all of them have split up. My band Affray haven’t been together since 2001, but Ben loved them, so we thought, ‘Right, we’ll get back together.’ “Nuclear Anarchy, we got them to reform, Hotwired were a Norwich band but they were quite good friends with the Southend punk scene, and Dogbite – the guys from Sweden and Japan are coming all the way over just to reform a local band that only ever played a handful of gigs out of Southend.” Ben’s mum is bringing along a Union Jack flag, adorned with badges of all the punk bands he ever wanted to see play live, which will decorate the back of the stage .
Well known on the music scene, at his wake in the Melrose pub, in Westcliff, people spilled out of the doors.
“Ben was all about the Southend punk scene,” says Dean. “He was one of the most noticeable people and even people who weren’t punks knew who he was.
“He was always at local gigs and was the sort of guy you’d always bump into.” The night will raise money for charity, and Dean says they’ll donate the funds raised to either an animal rights charity as Ben was a staunch vegetarian and animal rights supporter, a suicide support charity or homeless charity as the pair would often raise money for local homeless charities as youngsters. l Punk Ben’s memorial gig takes place at the Railway Hotel, Clifftown Road, Southend on Saturday January 19, from 7.30pm. Entry is £5, all funds raised will go to charity.