Gerry Conway, veteran folk and rock drummer who played with Cat Stevens, Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention and others, died on Friday at the age of 76.

Fairport Convention singer, guitarist and co-founder Simon Nicol paid tribute to Conway in a Facebook post over the weekend. He revealed that Conway battled motor neurone disease — also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease — which results in the gradual loss of motor neurons that control voluntary muscles.

Nicol called Conway “my dearest drumming pal, someone I first worked alongside in about 1968 on various sessions and toured with in Al Stewart's band way back when.” He praised his former bandmate as “wonderfully patient and wise, infuriatingly tardy (!) but always ready and eager to play, and blessed with his own inner calm and solidity. I’m going to miss him more than I can say.”

Gerry Conway's Life and Career

Born in King's Lynn, Norfolk, England, in 1947, Conway made his recording debut with the British folk band Eclection on their 1968 self-titled album. In 1970 he played on Steeleye Span’s Hark! The Village Wait and Stewart’s Zero She Flies before joining Stevens’ band as a recording and touring member.  He played on seven consecutive Stevens albums, from 1971’s Teaser and the Firecat through 1978’s Back to Earth.

READ MORE: Top 10 Cat Stevens Songs

Conway later joined Jethro Tull for 1982’s The Broadsword and the Beast and 1987’s Grammy-winning Crest of a Knave. He also spent much of the decade touring with Fairport Convention’s Richard Thompson, finally joining the group in 1998. Conway appeared on nine Fairport Convention albums, from 1999’s The Wood and the Wire through 2020’s Shuffle and Go — decades after playing on three songs from the band’s 1973 album Rosie. Conway left the group in 2022 after being diagnosed with MND.

Stevens also paid tribute to Conway over the weekend, writing on social media: “Sadly my great old drummer, Gerry Conway, just passed away. What a lad, and what ingenuity and style. May God grant him the beautiful reward of peace everlasting.”

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Gallery Credit: Allison Rapp

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