Paul McCartney saxophonist Howie Casey joins charity fundraiser

A MUSICIAN who has performed with Paul McCartney, Wings, T Rex, The Who and more is hitting the right notes for a charity fundraiser.

Poole-based Howie Casey has gifted a saxophone which is being auctioned off by a Christchurch hospice that helped care for his late wife, singer Sheila Casey.

Saxophonist Howie came to prominence in the early 1960s as a member of Liverpool band Derry and the Seniors, before going on to lead the renamed Howie Casey and the Seniors.

A sought-after session musician, Howie played on Wings albums including Band on the Run, Back to the Egg, Wings At The Speed of Sound and Wings Over America.

Sheila Casey and her sister Jeanette were successful as the McKinley Sisters, recording 1960s pop singles including Sweet and Tender Romance, as well as touring with and becoming friends with The Beatles.

Sadly, Sheila passed away in 2012 at the age 71 following a long fight against breast cancer.

During her illness she was cared for by staff from the Macmillan Unit at Christchurch Hospital. And Howie is continuing to use his music to support the charity.

“I first met Sheila in 1975 and it was like, ‘Ding!” he said. “We lived in London and along with Jeanette, were part of the funk-rock supergroup Paice Ashton & Lord.

“We moved to Bournemouth in 1979 for the peace and beautiful coastline. We also formed The Slobs, a rhythm and blues, soul and rock and roll band comprising of locally based session musicians, with a varying line-up.

“When Sheila learned she had cancer it was a terrible shock. But she was determined to beat it. She had surgery and drug treatments and for a while she continued to sing. But no matter how hard she fought it, it all eventually got too much.

“We had 37 fantastic years together, but it wasn’t nearly enough.”

Sir Paul McCartney sent a wreath to Sheila’s funeral.

READ MORE: Click here to see the saxophone auction

Howie went on to form Beatles With Wings, a band of 10 to 13 musicians with a full horn section celebrating the music of Paul McCartney, The Beatles and Wings.

Now 85, he still performs regularly with friends in bars and restaurants in Dorset. And he said he was determined to help the charity that cared for his wife.

“When I learned that the Mac Unit was fundraising to build a brand-new modern unit, I wanted to do something to help,” he said.

“The saxophone I have donated will hopefully raise some good money. My band and I also played at Macmillan Caring Locally’s recent charity auction Canvas for the Mac, at the Captain’s Club Hotel, in Christchurch.

“I hope people get behind the charity and help with the appeal. The Mac Unit helps so many families and people like Sheila to have dignity and the best care possible when they need it the most.”

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