Obituary: John Holland, musician

John Holland, who has died at 82, was a Sheffield singer who, as John Ryder, enjoyed stage and chart success in the 1950s and 60s.

John Holland

John Holland, who has died at 82, was a Sheffield singer who, as John Ryder, enjoyed stage and chart success in the 1950s and 60s.

He was lead singer of The Whirlwinds, a popular local band which also featured guitarists Dave Hawley – the father of songwriter Richard Hawley – and Frank White.

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A decade later, Holland had a hit with his wife, Anne, called I Still Believe In Tomorrow, which spent 10 weeks in the Canadian charts.

It was a career that had begun very differently, as an apprentice engineering pattern maker, crafting wooden moulds for the steel industry. But when he saw Tommy Steele perform, the music bug bit him.

“Seeing him standing there with a guitar, I thought I could do that – so I went out and bought a guitar and went for lessons on Staniforth Road,” he recalled to the Sheffield music history writer, John Firminger.

It was the age of home-made skiffle music, and Holland formed his own band called Johnny and the Night Riders.

But it was The Whirlwinds with whom he was most associated. They were a fixture in the working men’s clubs of the 1950s, and it was where he and Anne met.

They recorded their signature duet around 1969 but knew nothing of its chart success in North America until their manager called them six months later, just before a concert in Birmingham, with Cilla Black.

When it was announced to the crowd that they were the number one act in Memphis as well as Vancouver, the applause almost stopped the show.

Holland is survived by Anne and by their son and daughter.