Rock star speaks up for boat victim

Sunday 23 October 2011 07:34

Pete Townshend of the Who told a High Court judge in London yesterday of the "exceptional" style and virtuosity of a saxophonist whose career was destroyed by the Marchioness disaster.

Jo Wells was rescued after spending three minutes under water when the River Thames pleasure cruiser collided with the sand dredger Bowbelle, in August 1989. She escaped with minor injuries, but her "glittering" life performing "at the high level" with top rock acts including Tears for Fears and the Communards came to an end. The owners of the Bowbelle and Marchioness have accepted liability for the tragedy, but are contesting the amount of compensation, claiming Ms Wells was burnt out before the accident.

Townshend (left), who employed her as a session musician in 1986, told the judge that Ms Wells could have looked forward to a career earning up to pounds 3,000 a week. "Jo really stuck in my mind. She was absolutely exceptional both technically and imaginatively. She was the best soprano saxophone player I have ever heard, an unassuming figure who burst into life when she was playing."

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