Tributes for blues musician Nick Johnson who died in crash

A MOTORBIKE-loving Capital blues musician who survived one horror road crash has been killed in a motorcycling accident in Spain.

• Nick Johnson pictured in 2008 before departing on a trek around Spain on a mission to twin Leith with Villa Nova

Nick Johnson, a former Edinburgh University pathology technician, was a well known and influential blues guitarist and singer.

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Friends and colleagues today paid tribute to the 48-year-old from Leith who passed away after the crash on December 23.

He had moved to Catalonia several years ago but retained significant links with the Capital. The crash was the second severe accident he had been involved in since moving to the coastal town of Villanova i la Geltru.

He spent six weeks in hospital after a crash in January 2009 in which he fractured his skull, pelvis, collarbone, wrist and thumb of his right hand, as well as sustaining four broken ribs, memory loss and severe burns to his lower legs.

He is survived by nine-year-old daughter Lucy.

Edinburgh musician Norval Barclay, 41, said: "Nick was a big man with a big heart which more often than not was to be found on his sleeve.

"He loved to entertain and took the business of playing music very seriously regardless of where he was playing or to how many people."

Mr Barclay said he got to know the frontman over years of playing on the city's live music scene.

He said: "I started playing music myself in 1999 and got to know Nick pretty well over the subsequent years.

"One of my first exciting encounters was stumbling across the band Bluefinger playing at The Cavern, which was beside Sneaky Pete's in the Cowgate. I clearly remember the larger-than-life frontman with a penchant for Gretsch guitars.

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"Latterly he was living in Spain and would come over to Edinburgh and play if he could get enough gigs to make it worth his while as he was still well-liked and well-known."

Close friend and fellow city musician Lawrie Bell announced the death on Facebook. He said: "My FB friends. It brings me great regrets to tell you that my good friend Nick Johnson was killed in a motorcycle accident on Dec 23rd in Spain. Life on the edge mate. RIP."

Mr Johnson was a regular fixture on the Edinburgh music scene for more than two decades, most notably a weekly residency with his band Bluefinger at the Balmoral's NB Bar.

He worked extensively with Leith FM and even when he relocated to northern Spain, he was determined to keep his links with the area.

In 2008 he even launched a bid to have Leith twinned with his new home-town, winning the backing of local celebrities and city councillors. His friends in Spain, where his musical ability was equally well-regarded, logged on to his MySpace musician account, with one saying: "On December 23, 2010 he left the world - but his music lives on."

Noted Scots musician Dave Arcari also paid tribute to the former Liberton High School pupil and said: "Nick - rest easy man."

In 2008 Mr Johnson took part in a 4000-mile motorbike tour of Spain ahead of a concert in Villanova as part of a campaign to set up a twinning link between the town and Leith.