Stuart Colman, musician and producer

Stuart Colman, who has died at 73 after a long battle with cancer, was a leading light in the music industry, on stage and off, in a career that had spanned nearly six decades and produced 33 hit singles.

Stuart Colman

In the 1980s he produced a run of chart hits for the rock and roll revivalist Shakin’ Stevens, in reality a Welsh singer and actor called Michael Barratt, and he was among those paying tribute to his old friend.

Colman had joined his first band while still a pupil at Harrogate Grammar School and went on to sell a million records in America with another outfit, The Flying Machine.

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He was born Ian Stuart Colman in Harrogate on December 19, 1944 to a locally-known musical family – his father, Walter, played piano and ran a dance band. In 1987, Colman recorded The Walter Colman Collection, a charity album for his father’s church to mark his 80th birthday.

60s hitmaker - Harrogate's Stuart Colman in the pop band Pinkerton's Assorted Colours who were signed to Decca Records.

He enjoyed his first hits in the UK with a band called Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, just as Sixties London was swinging. A decade later, he had become a disc jockey with a show on BBC Radio 1, where he was an influential champion of vintage rock ’n’ roll.

He also wrote a regular column for music paper Melody Maker, produced successful records for country acts over several decades and collaborated with Cliff Richard, Kate Bush and The Young Ones, for whom he produced the charity single, Livin’ Doll.

But he was best known for turning Shakin’ Stevens into one of the most consistent chart-toppers of his time, producing his songs This Old House, Green Door and Oh, Julie.

Stevens said that Colman “still had a lot more to give”.

Flashback to nearly 60 years ago - Harrogate music legend Stuart Colman in his first rock band at Harrogate Grammar School.

Another tribute came from the Harrogate musician Bob Mason, who played guitar in a local band called Ricky Fenton and the Apaches, when they supported The Beatles at the town’s Royal Hall in 1963.

He and Colman had met as five-year-olds at Grove Road Infants’ School and in their teens learned their instruments together, with Colman having assembled a basic drum kit. With other friends, they formed an outfit called The Denvers, and played school concerts.

But a job in a technical design department took Colman away to the Midlands, and with friends there he formed a rhythm and blues band called The Beat Preachers, who also recorded as The Caribbean. Then came Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, who had the operator of the pirate station Radio City as their manager. Despite this, their debut single, Mirror, Mirror was given an early airing on the BBC’s Blue Peter. “If you want to know what Pinkerton’s Colours are, tune in on Thursday,” Valerie Singleton had teased at the end of the previous edition.

In mid-1990s Colman moved with his family to Nashville, Tennessee, to devote himself to recording sessions with the top country acts based there.

A health scare in 2002 brought a cancer diagnosis, and returned to Britain but continued to run music projects from a new home in the Cotswolds.

He married Janet Hyland in 1973 and they divorced in 2002. They had a son and two daughters, who survive him along with Annie Shutte, whom he married in 2010.