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Islington Tribune - by CHARLOTTE CHAMBERS
Published: 10 October 2008
Graeme Crallan (on drums) with Janick Gers (on guitar) when White Spirit played the Reading festival in 1980
Graeme Crallan (on drums) with Janick Gers (on guitar) when White Spirit played the Reading festival in 1980
Drummer who dreamed of rock fame killed in street fall

Friends pay tribute to heavy metal musician’s struggle to beat alcoholism

A HEAVY metal drummer who moved to London with his Iron Maiden guitarist friend to form a cult 1970s band died after hitting his head on a pavement while having a fit, an inquest heard this week.
Graeme Crallan – known in the rock fraternity by the affectionate nickname “Crash” – was standing outside his home at the corner of York Way and Wharfdale Road in King’s Cross when a sudden fit took hold of his body.
The tragic episode in July left him “brain stem dead”, according to pathologist Dr Freddie Patel. He was taken to Whittington Hospital in Archway and then transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, where he died on July 27.
Mr Crallan, 50, formed the rock group White Spirit with Janick Gers, a friend from his hometown of Hartlepool who went on to found legendary rock band Iron Maiden.
Mr Crallan later joined the band Tank but did not enjoy the same success as Mr Gers and ended up working as a Dial-A-Ride driver and a hospital porter to pay the bills. But, according to friends, he “never totally gave up the dream”.
One of his albums was re-released in later years, and he could often be found jumping up and down to his favourite karaoke tracks at Central Station bar in King’s Cross.
A St Pancras inquest on Tuesday heard how detectives initially suspected foul play after Mr Crallan was found bleeding in the road.
But after cordoning off a large part of York Way for some hours, examination of CCTV footage which had captured his fit and subsequent fall led officers to call off any criminal investigation.
Detective Sergeant Alastair Watson said Mr Crallan was seen to shake and then fall backwards. Because of the fit, he was unable to break his fall and hit the back and right side of his head on concrete.
Coroner Dr Andrew Reid ruled Mr Crallan died of natural causes after deciding that his alcoholism was not responsible for the death. Mr Crallan’s liver was healthy enough to be used for an organ donation and there was no alcohol in his body at the time of his death.
He said: “The cause of the seizure may have been alcohol but equally there is evidence he’d developed a frontal lobe lesion.”
Mr Crallan’s brave struggle to beat alcohol addiction was praised at his funeral, led by humanist Ros Curtis at Golders Green Crematorium in August.
His partner Mike Jackson said after the inquest: “He had been warned several times that sudden withdrawal from alcohol without alternative therapy is dangerous and he had had several seizures as a result of doing this.
“We believe he died as a result of this... [However] we take comfort in the fact that Graeme died on a day that he was feeling strong, managing to fight this illness and live for another day. It was, very sadly, an accident.”
He added: “He was a well-loved and respected man. He’ll be very sorely missed.”

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Your comments:

THANKS for your fantasic drumming on TANK's album. You will live on in my heart due to this! See you in heaven!
M. Jakobsen

AS someone who was too young to experience the early '80's New Wave of British Heavy Metal, of which White Spirit were a part, I am happy I at least had the opportunity to hear some of their music. May Mr. Crallan rest in peace.

By the way, Gers did not "found" Iron Maiden. He joined them roughly a DECADE after their first album was released! Even a casual read-up on the band's history will demonstrate this.
V. Saksena


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