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Tributes to Rainham musician Rhys West

By Poppy Jeffery

A popular guitarist on the Kent music scene has died after a month-long battle with liver and kidney failure.

Rainham resident Rhys West had made a name for himself performing with his band Zeus, as well as at numerous “jam nights”.

He was best known for his talents on the guitar and was a familiar face on the pub circuit in Medway, Sittingbourne and Maidstone.

Rhys West, from Rainham, has died
Rhys West, from Rainham, has died

The 30-year-old spent his last days at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham. He died on Tuesday last week.

Rhys had played to audiences ranging from small pub crowds to a gig in front of former French president Francois Hollande. His band mate Garry Margett, 61, also from Rainham, said: “I first met Rhys at a jam night.

“A mutual friend knew he wanted to join a band, so it was suggested to meet, along with Paul Atwell, at the White Hart in Cuxton.

“We found three songs we all knew and went on stage.

“After about 30 seconds, I looked at Paul and started to smile. After a minute we were both grinning like Cheshire cats, and so was Rhys.

“Over three songs, we went from strangers to friends.

"I think he will be remembered not only as a gifted, intuitive musician, but as a really nice guy, and one of my best friends" - Garry Margett

“When we finished, the landlord thought we were an established band and offered us a gig, not believing that we had just met. Rhys had a knack of helping and inspiring new musicians. He had no ego, accepted all musicians, no matter their skill level, as an equal.

“I think he will be remembered not only as a gifted, intuitive musician, but as a really nice guy, and one of my best friends.”

Paul, 54, said they had played 190 gigs together as Zeus in the past six and a half years.

He added: “Playing in the same band as Rhys was not only a joy, it was a privilege – anyone who has shared a stage with Rhys would tell you the same thing.

“He was the most talented guitarist I’ve ever known.

“Rhys was also an amazing person, always laughing, always friendly, always kind of word and, for one with so much talent, devoid of any ego.

“He was happy to let others share the limelight and in many cases letting others take the limelight – he never overshadowed anyone.

“He was always encouraging of other players and had all the time in the world for everyone. Nobody ever had a bad word to say about him.”

Rhys, who lived in Sunderland Drive, leaves his brother Callum, parents Steve and Jayne, and girlfriend Lorraine Bissenden.

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