Monday, 19 March 2012

John McCane front man of Last of the Breed has died

Last of the Breed
A sad time for the British Country music scene.....
(Monday March 19, 2012) John McCane front man of Last of the Breed has died along with keyboard player Pete McDonald who passed away a few weeks previously. 

John McCane the front man of Last of the Breed, sadly died on Thursday March 15, 2012, at aged 53. He leaves wife Susan and boys Harry and Keon (?) In the early 90’s Pete toured with Wild Country before joining Last Of The Breed in 1998. Amongst his accolades Pete toured with The Dakotas and made many TV appearances , worked as an extra on TV and as a comedy scriptwriter - freelance and commissioned (The Two Ronnie's, Les Dawson, Russ Abbott and Brian Conley, etc). He was also a fine artist/cartoonist and kept a comic book record of the band. He was also a qualified teacher.
A few weeks ago John’s keyboard player Pete McDonald also died after a short illness.

John McCane
About John McCane
Band leader and bass player John McCane was born in Salford, of first generation Irish extraction, spent part of his childhood as a pupil of the prestigious Manchester School of Music because of his natural ability with musical instruments and singing. This ability soon found him on the Irish Show band circuit as a bass guitar player and harmony vocalist which in turn led to session work and a musical discipline combined with a built in integrity remained with him.
Over the years John developed his song writing ability. He had played with numerous local bands before fronting bands (Nevada & 16th Avenue) which rapidly gained a reputation on the national/international country music circuit. A recording of a couple of Johns own songs “Only A Fool” and “Know The Dance” gained respect and bookings at The Pontin’s Country Music Festivals and Mill At The Pier in Wigan.
Later John went on to form Last Of The Breed and they recorded an album called “THE BREED”.
A self-composed song called “The Immigrant” from the album won critical acclaim both in Ireland and Mainland Britain. The Breed became residents at The Irish Festival at Pontins in Southport and again became in demand throughout Britain and Ireland.

John McCane
Cross Country Magazine
 Image -  March 2007
John McCane and The Breed - Branded their mark on the British country music scene. While others bands were drawn to artistes such as Hal Ketchum and Alan Jackson, John and his four-piece band drew greatly on the 60's - 70's music of Ronnie Millsap, George Jones and Merle Haggard, playing some of those less remembered songs but instantly recognizable.
John and the band played the British country music clubs for many years with some changes in line-up with musicians that were committed to the cause and able to travel.

About The Band
Last Of The Breed was formed and had been on the road since 1992.
The main core of the band was John McCane (Lead Vocals / Bass), the now late Pete McDonald (Keyboards / Vocals) who died a few weeks ago, Paul Burgess (Drums) [who after a one-off gig with John in 2006 joined the band], Shane O’Borne (Lead Guitar / Vocals) and Mike Foley (Lead Guitar / Vocals) who in 1984 met John McCane for the first time and joined him in a band called Country Comfort.
Part time members who deputized included: Gerry McLaughlin (Lead Guitar / Vocals), Lenny Whitehead (Lead Guitar / Vocals) and Martin Clooney (Drums / Vocals)

This Manchester (UK) based outfit drew their inspiration from self penned songs and quality covers, not only from the rich vaults of country music but also from blues, soul and rock and roll. A good 80% of their live shows met the country criteria in the style of the Irish show bands of the past hence the bands name Last Of The Breed. A typical set would include Love Songs, classics, Irish and rock ‘n roll medleys and John’s own compositions.

At UK Country Radio Awards in February 2003 they won Single of the Year with "Wrap My Arms Around The World" which was first recorded in the early 60's by Narvel Felts.  The awards continued with Album of the Year and Song of the Year in 2003/2004. The following year saw them winning Listeners Choice 2004/2005

John McCane and The BreedKnown Awards:

Peoples Country Music Award Band Of The Year in 2001/2002
UK Country Radio Award Single Of The Year 2002/2003  “Wrap My Arms Around The World”
UK Country Radio Award Song Of The Year 2003/2004
UK Country Radio Award Album Of The Year 2003/2004
UK Country Radio Award Listeners Choice 2004/2005
UK Country Radio Award Song Of The Year 2005/2006
British Country Music Award Song Of The Year 2008   for “I Don't Have Far to Fall.”
Southern Country Magazine Readers Choice Band Of The Year 2008

John McCane
'Area Code 0161'
Echo Park © 2003

Album Art
Tracks:  Ya Know The Dance / Why / Afraid / Don't Come Cryin' To Me / La Jolla Shore / Fool Hearted Memory / I See It Now / New Shade Of Blue / Running Round In Circles / She Keeps The Home Fires Burning /How's The Radio Know / Familiar Pain / Only A Fool.

AREA CODE 0161, was named after the telephone code for Manchester where John lived.
 This was  the sophomore CD release from the Salford born Singer-Songwriter John McCane following on from YOU GET THE LIGHTS an album which spawned many  singles such as Collin Raye's "'Scuse Moi My Heart" , Gram Parsons' "High Fashion Queen",  his self penned "You Close The Door And I'll Get The Lights", "Fall Down A Tramp, Stand Up a Lady" and a reading of a Narvel Felts song "Wrap My Arms Around The World”

AREA CODE 0161 offered up 13 tracks,  made up of 5 originals, 2 co-writes,  2 from the pen of John, a track written by  Liverpool artist Tony Ainscough and 8 covers. This second album took 14 months to complete and the recording took place in Ireland working the likes of Jim McVie (Dominic Kirwan's musical director) and gifted musician Steven Smith.
The song is titled "Afraid " is one performed on the country music circuit here in the U.K , in various arrangement's, with the many bands that John  fronted since the 1960s.

Of the other 4 original's, two J. C. penned tracks book-end the album. The lively opener "Ya Know The Dance " a song telling of the joy's of being free after a marriage breakdown  while a tale of a passionate love affair in "Only A Fool" brings the album to a close. On San Diego's "La Jolla Shore" was a song co-written with his ex Dakota's keyboard player Pete McDonald. The slow ballad "Running Round In Circles" is the second of two co-writes that make up the quintet.

John picked out an excellent reading of Southern Pacific's "New Shade Of Blue" a top 5 hit for the band in the late 80s.  "Familiar Pain" is a song that was recorded by Restless Heart.
The catchy "Why" was pulled from the Tracy Byrd songbook and Aaron Tippin's "How's The Radio Know" was tipped as a sure fire winner to attract radio airplay. John included a cover of Ronnie Milsap’s "She Keeps The Home Fire's Burning", a song that was a #1 for Ronnie in 1985. 
Familiar songs with Vince Gill's "Don't Come Cryin' To Me" and George Strait's first ever #1 "Fool Hearted Memory" from 1982 also made the cut on this album

John McCane
Straight From The Heart
Echo Park Records
Straight From The Heart
Album Artwork
Track list - Holdin' Heaven / Couldn't Love Have Picked / Last Cheaters Waltz/ Why Not Tonight / Touch Me With Your Tenderness/ Kick Ass Country/ Who's Gonna Hold Me/ Louisiana Rain/ Spread A Little Love Around/ I Do But I Don't / The Lady/ Second Time Around.

Straight From The Heart was the third CD released by John containing a mixed bag of 12 tracks featuring a diverse selection of appealing covers and original songs. Along with band members Peter McDonald (Keyboards) and John Cosgrove(Drummer) they made the trip across the water to Northern Ireland to team up again with top producer and musician Stephen Smyth. John also stuck to winning formulae of mixing rarely covered songs with his own originals.
 Alongside "Who's Gonna Hold Me" which was written by British songwriter Lorna Flowers it found John and Lorna combining their songwriting talents on "Touch Me With Your Tenderness” a lovely ballad about making up after a relationship has gone bad.  John and band member Pete McDonald penned the emotive "Second Time Around", a song about lost love, whilst  John's own western swing styled "The Lady" lifted the spirits with this tale of a fun loving girl.

The opening track is a honky tonker "Holdin' Heaven",  closely followed by the Curly Putman/Bucky Jones weepy "Couldn't Love Have Picked A Better Place To Die". Sonny Throckmoton's "Last Cheater's Waltz" was a number 1 hit for T.G. Sheppard in the late 70's and a popular number in John's set-list during his live shows. Harley Allen/John Wiggins' "Spread A Little Love Around" and the Tommy/Jimmy Swarbrigg composition "Kiss Ass Country" were also included.
STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART offers a traditional country music style in its purest form with a generous helping of steel licks.

Allan Watkiss BBC Radio Sheffield:
“John  performed regularly at the Royal British Legion at Edlington in Doncaster, several of his shows were Gig Of The Month on “Your Country” . I thought he was a great ballad singer, super stuff and had a real distinctive voice. As well as being a great singer he put a lot of great work into the production of his tracks and made them sound superb. He will be remembered with great affection on the British country music circuit and I’ll remember him for his great ballads “

Jonny Williams & Lynnette Marie (Facebook) (Popular UK country duo) :
He was a lovely chap, shared some great gigs together, had some great laughs with him...I cant believe it.

Irene Tradewell (Editor of Country Music Routes)
oh, no, he was a great bloke and his band, superb. He did a lot for the Brit music scene. So much behind the scenes many will be unaware of. So sorry for those he's left behind - family, friends and our music ix

LISTEN to the Audio tribute broadcast on March 18, 2012 on Allan Watkiss “Your Country” show
(Note quality is poor due to ongoing problems with BBC iPlayer Listen again)
Music Played: “I Don’t Have Far To Fall”, “Running Around In Circles”

** UPDATE  **
Sunday March 25, 2012
Long-time British country artist and BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Kenny Johnson paid tribute to John McCane on “Sounds Country  broadcast Sunday 25 March 2012
 Song medley played: “Don’t Come Cryin’ To Me”, “Why”, “Last Cheaters Waltz”, “I Don’t Have Very Far To Fall”, “Afraid” (written by Liverpool artist Tony Ainscough), “One Night At A Time” and “Wrap My Arms Around The World”
LISTEN to the Audio tribute


 John McCane and the Last of the Breed – “Legend In My Time”  >    YouTube

John McCane & The Last Of The Breed – “Kick Ass Country”  >   YouTube

Great North Country and Western Festival 2010. Watch it on Myspace Videos.

March 2007 Issue Cross Country Magazine, Metro Country, Graham Lees and BBC Radio Sheffield

If anyone has a memory or thoughts about John and the Last of the Breed please leave a comment.
R.I.P John McCane & Pete “The Feet” McDonald.


  1. It is with great sadness that I learn of the passing of John and Pete, I had the great pleasure of playing for Last of the breed as a dep on many occasions, they were not only great guy's but great musicians to work with.
    Pete once turned to me, smiled and said " your'e doing great son John's really hard on drummers"
    My prayers and thought's go out to their loved ones.
    R.I.P John and Pete. God Bless.
    Sincerely Clive Nash.

  2. Thanks Clive for your message and words.
    Kenny Johnson on BBC Radio Merseyside has also paid tribute on his country show (25March 2012).
    The Blog has been updated

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