Ian ‘Tich’ Amey, lead guitarist with Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich – obituary

Ian ‘Tich’ Amey in 1967
Ian ‘Tich’ Amey in 1967 - David Redfern

Ian Amey, better known as “Tich”, who has died aged 79, was the lead guitarist of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, the band whose catchy songs brought them a string of Top 10 hits in the 1960s, culminating in their whip-cracking 1968 chart-topper The Legend of Xanadu.

Ian Frederick Stephen Amey was born on May 15 1944, and as a schoolboy was on the diminutive side, leading to his nickname, “Tich”.

In his teens he played guitar with a band named Eddy and the Strollers until he was persuaded by his bass-playing childhood friend, Trevor “Dozy” Ward-Davies, to join his band, Ronnie Blonde and the Beatnicks. They were soon joined by a former policeman, Dave “Dave Dee” Harman, and Amey’s friend and fellow-guitarist John “Beaky” Dymond from the Big Boppers.

Ian 'Tich' Amey, rear, right, with, l-r, Beaky (John Dymond), Mick (Michael Wilson), Dave Dee and Dozy (Trevor Davies)
Ian 'Tich' Amey, rear, right, with, l-r, Beaky (John Dymond), Mick (Michael Wilson), Dave Dee and Dozy (Trevor Davies) - CA/Redferns

They went through a succession of drummers until settling on Mick Wilson. With a new name, Dave Dee and the Bostons, they marked themselves out with their Mod gear and a quirky stage act that would later draw comparisons with old-time music hall, touring Britain and playing at the former Beatles haunts, the Star-Club and Top Ten Club in Hamburg.

In 1964, on a night off from their summer residency at Butlin’s in Clacton-on-Sea, they were supporting the Honeycombs when the songwriting duo behind that band, Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, liked what they saw, changed their name to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich – drawing on their actual nicknames – and booked them in for a session with Joe Meek, who had produced the Honeycombs’ No 1 Have I the Right.

That went disastrously when the band refused to put up with his unique approach to production, but they secured a deal with Fontana and in 1965 recorded a couple of throat-clearing singles. Their third effort, You Make It Move, scraped into the Top 30, and they were on tour supporting Gene Pitney the following year when Hold Tight! – with its heavy beat derived from a football-terrace chant – made No 2.

The rest of 1966 was frantic, with more hits penned by Howard and Blaikley, like Hideaway and the Zorba the Greek-influenced Bend It! (on which Amey played electric mandolin to sound like a bouzouki), which was criticised by some for its mildly suggestive lyric; that year, they were in the charts for all but a fortnight. Their refusal to take themselves seriously was exemplified by the title of their second album, released that December, If Music Be the Food of Love... Prepare for Indigestion.

They developed a routine to avoid being mobbed by fans at gigs. Beforehand, they would go to the local police station and be taken to the venue in a black Maria, which was then left behind the theatre during the gig.

Afterwards, with hysterical fans assembled at both the front and back of the venue, Amey, being the fastest runner, would casually walk out at the front of the building. The ensuing screams would draw the fans from the rear, and Amey would then sprint back through the theatre and join his bandmates piling into the back of the police van.

The hits continued to flow in 1967, notably Zabadak, with its pseudo-African percussion, and in 1968 they had their only No 1 with The Legend of Xanadu (on which Amey played flamenco guitar); Dee’s handling of the whip nearly took a few eyes out in the Top of the Pops studio.

In 1969, when Dee left to embark on a solo career, the others carried on, but without notable success. But they continued to tour, occasionally with Dee, becoming a fixture of the nostalgia circuit, and moved to Marbella, where they ran a nightclub. Amey retired in 2014.

He married Sue Fryer in 1968; she survives him with their two children and a daughter from a previous relationship. Dave Dee died in 2009, Dozy in 2015; of the original band, Beaky and Mick survive.

Ian “Tich” Amey, born May 15 1944, died February 15 2024