Sax player begins `Marchioness' fight

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The Independent Online
A brilliant musician on the brink of major success suffered a nervous breakdown and turned to alcohol after surviving the Marchioness disaster, the High Court heard yesterday. Josephine Wells, 37, wept as she described how the accident in which 51 people died ended her burgeoning career as a saxophonist, which included work with leading pop bands like Tears for Fears and the Communards.

Ms Wells, of Salford, Greater Manchester, had beaten 10,000 other young musicians to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, London, with her then instrument, the clarinet. But she left her studies to launch the pop career which would have earned her an estimated pounds 40,000 a year if it had continued, the court heard.

She is claiming damages from the owners of the Marchioness and the gravel barge which hit it, the Bow Belle. They have accepted liability in civil law.

Musicians, including former teachers from the Royal College of Music, and Pete Townshend of the Who - with whom she once recorded - are supporting Ms Wells. Mr Townshend is expected to give evidence today.

Louise Jury