Friends of Viola Beach to release charity cover to mark fifth anniversary of band's death

5 February 2021, 11:51 | Updated: 5 February 2021, 13:01

Viola Beach
Viola Beach. Picture: Press

The Warrington group and their manager were killed in a car accident in 2016.

Friends and colleagues of Viola Beach are to pay tribute to the group with a special cover of one of their songs.

The Warrington band, comprised of Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe and Jack Dakin, were killed along with their manager Craig Tarry on 13 February 2016 in a car accident in Sweden.

Since the tragedy, Viola Beach's friends and family have kept their memory alive with the local event RivFest, and even Coldplay paid tribute to the group by covering their single Boys That Sing during their headline slot at Glastonbury in 2016.

Some of the performers on the Viola Beach tribute single
Some of the performers on the Viola Beach tribute single. Picture: Press

Five years on from their tragic deaths, a community of musicians from Warrington have come together to record a cover of Viola Beach’s single Swings And Waterslides.

The project was organised by Lee Harman of Warrington music magazine [WAM] and supported by Viola Beach’s former sound engineer Cal Bate. All proceeds from the single’s success will be donated to charities chosen by the lads' families.

Bate says: "Viola Beach are a huge part of my life, the big stepping stone to my whole career. So to be able to produce a version of one of their songs with amazing musicians from Warrington meant the world to me. The boys’ legacy will live on forever and they left us some beautiful music. They will never be forgotten and they are everything to Warrington and its music scene.”

One of the performers on the track is Olly Thornton, who played in bands with Viola Beach singer and guitarist Kris Leonard. He noted: "I grew up with Kris, we were inseparable for the best part of our younger life, and to be asked to do something like this and to represent the teenage musical beginnings of Kris' life makes me very proud."

Jessica Luise, who also performed vocals on the track, was able to fund the recording of her most recent single thanks to a bursary from the River Reeves Foundation - a charity set up by River’s family to provide funding to musicians from the local area. “I started working with the Rivers Reeves Foundation around a year ago," she says. "I never knew the lads personally but getting to experience the legacy they have left behind is amazing. It’s been an absolute privilege to be involved in this project."

The full line up of contributors to the recording is:

Vocals: Joe Banks (The A.V Club), Lucy Bell, Liam Hillyer, Jessica Luise, Calan Nickle (Sienne), Olly Thornton (Uno Mas)

Guitar: Amy Woodall (Crawlers) & Nathan Greenfield (Aligners)

Drums: Chris Peake (Filthy Tricks)

Bass: Ed Dowling (The Zangwills)

Mix: Cal Bate (Former Viola Beach sound engineer)

Lee Harman says of the project: “We should have seen Viola Beach headlining the biggest festivals five years on, but despite the pain and sadness getting easier every year, they put Warrington on the map, and we want to show they’re still an important part of the town’s culture.

The new version of Swings And Waterslides will be released on iTunes and all streaming platforms on Friday 12 February under the name of Warrington Music.