Cedric Sharpley: Drummer who played with Tubeway Army

 

The drummer Cedric Sharpley was the human backbone of Gary Numan's android, futuristic synthpop sound of the late 1970s and early '80s.

Sharpley's tight, muscular, dynamic drumming, punctuated by the occasional fill and cymbal splash, and the bass of his rhythm section partner Paul Gardiner provided the perfect foundation over which glided the analog synthesiser lines played by Chris Payne and Numan himself.

Best heard on the epochal "Cars", Numan's road rage-inspired 1979 chart-topper, and the tracks "Metal" and "Films" from the No 1 album The Pleasure Principle, Sharpley's distinctive, "not quite robotic" drumming added a warmth that contrasted with the singer's cold, eerie, sci-fi infused pronouncements – "We Are Glass", "I Die: You Die" – and appealed to the emerging hip-hop community, particularly the DJ Afrika Bambaataa, as well the industrial music pioneer Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and the electronica musician Moby.

A mainstay of Numan's studio and live band through most of the 1980s, Sharpley drummed on the albums Telekon, Dance, Warriors and Berserker, and several more Numan hits including "Complex", "This Wreckage" and "She's Got Claws". He also played drums and programmed the electronic drums on "Fade To Grey", the breakthrough song by the New Romantic outfit Visage, which was co-written by Payne and the Ultravox keyboard-player Billy Currie, another Numan accompanist, in 1979.

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1952, Sharpley came to Britain and settled in Hertfordshire during the 1960s. With the bassist Neil Brewer and the singer and guitarist Dane Stevens he formed Druid, a progressive rock group often compared to Yes, especially once they added the keyboardist Andrew McCrorie-Shand to the line-up in 1974. Championed by Bob Harris, they appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test and recorded two studio albums for EMI in the mid-'70s before disbanding.

In the spring of 1979, Sharpley joined Numan, who had already recorded two Tubeway Army albums with Gardiner and his uncle Jess Lidyard on drums, replacing the latter in time to perform "Down In The Park" and "Are 'Friends' Electric?" on the Whistle Test, and appear on Top Of The Pops as "Electric" raced to the top of the charts. When Numan announced his retirement after a whirlwind two years and three visually dazzling tours, including a series of farewell concerts at Wembley Arena in April 1981, Gardiner decided to go solo while the rest of the band, Sharpley, Payne, the guitarist Russell Bell and the keyboard-player Denis Haines, formed the grandly named Dramatis.

They signed to Rocket Records and issued the For Future Reference album and half a dozen electro-pop singles, though only "Love Needs No Disguise", to which Numan contributed his trademark adenoidal vocals, and "I Can See Her Now" charted. By 1983, Sharpley was backing Numan again. He subsequently reunited with Brewer in the bands Frame By Frame and Tinderfish.

Sharpley died of a heart attack. "Ced was not only a truly great drummer but a gentle, fascinating and funny man to be around and he will be greatly missed," Numan wrote on his website.

Cedric Sharpley, drummer and songwriter: born Cape Town 2 July 1951; died 13 March 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas