'˜Them' band member dies

Alan Henderson, bass player in legendary Ulster group '˜Them' has passed away in his early seventies at his home in America.

Peter Bardens, Alan Henderson, Van Morrison, Billy Harrison, Pat McAuley in 1965, the hey day of Them
Peter Bardens, Alan Henderson, Van Morrison, Billy Harrison, Pat McAuley in 1965, the hey day of Them

Former band mate Billy Harrison, for whom Alan was “the younger brother he never had”, spoke of his heartbreak at learning of his death.

Billy, 74, still lives in Northern Ireland while Alan had been living in Minneapolis since the late sixties.

“When we were on tour with Them he met a local girl and never came home again,” said Billy.

Alan Henderson with his wife Vinnie-Anne

“He got married to Vinnie-Anne, started a family and made Minneapolis his home. That was Alan, he just blended in, he was a very easy guy to get on with.”

He added: “Alan and I had that sort of friendship that even if you don’t talk to each other for a long time you just sort of pick up where you left off. My mother always said he was the younger brother I never had.

“I tried to speak to him three weeks ago when he was down in Mexico but the WiFi there was useless, so we texted and arranged that we’d catch up when he got home. We never got to actually talk and next thing, bang he’s gone.”

Them started as a three-piece band called The Gamblers with Billy and Alan as founder members. The fifth and final member to join was Van Morrison as a saxophone player and the band became known as Them.

Alan Henderson with his wife Vinnie-Anne

“Any time you read Van put a group together, he didn’t,” Billy joked. “He was the last guy in.”

He added: “When Them broke through it was a real biggie for us. In 1964 when our record went into the charts for New Year’s Eve, it was a dream come true.”

Billy said he had not seen or spoken to Van since he left the band in 1967. With Alan on the other hand they stayed in regular contact.

“Alan stayed with Them to the bitter end and later went into construction,” he said.

It is understood Alan died at the beginning of this week. Billy found out on Wednesday.

He said: “It’s such a shock to me that he’s gone and I won’t get seeing him again. I’ll remember him like a brother.”

Billy said Vinnie-Anne told him Alan was to be cremated and she planned to bring some of his ashes back to Northern Ireland.