Viola Beach families pay tribute to band and manager

Viola Beach band members Image copyright @jholsson/PA Wire
Image caption The four-piece Warrington-based band were officially formed in May last year

The families of indie band Viola Beach said they had been doing what they loved before they died in a car crash in Sweden.

Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe, Jack Dakin and manager Craig Tarry, who were aged between 20 and 33, were killed when their car plunged more than 25m (82ft) from a bridge into a canal.

The band had hours earlier played their first gig outside the UK.

Swedish police are examining their car to try to find the cause of the crash.

UK band Viola Beach die in Sweden crash

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Media captionArchive footage of Viola Beach performing for BBC Introducing

The Warrington band were in Sweden to take part in a music festival on Friday and were due to play a gig in Guildford in Surrey on Saturday.

The incident happened in the early hours of Saturday near Stockholm.

Police say their car hit a roadside barrier and plunged into a canal - falling through a gap in a bridge which had opened to let a boat pass through.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Craig Tarry, pictured with his father Colin, was a devoted Manchester City fan

The family of Mr Lowe said his life had been "tragically cut short".

"Tomas was the best son, brother, uncle and friend you could ever wish for and he will be missed dearly.

"Tomas had a passion for music and for life and he was, in his words, 'living the dream' when his life was tragically cut short. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him," the family added in a Foreign Office statement.

Mr Leonard's family said "words cannot express the sadness we feel at the loss of our precious Kristian".

"He was doing the job he loved and will be missed so much by his family and friends," they added in a statement.

Mr Tarry's relatives said they were "devastated" and "grieving the loss of their son and also for the other families involved in this tragic accident".

They added: "Craig was a warm, loving person who had worked tirelessly to achieve success and follow his dreams within the music industry."

'Talent and humility'

Mr Reeves's family said they were "heartbroken".

"River had such talent and such humility, such charm and such innocence it seems so unfair that he can be taken so cruelly from us like this," they said in a statement.

Mr Tarry, who spent time in Los Angeles, was passionate about Manchester City football club and was a member of the Hollywood branch of the team's supporters club.

Fellow member and friend Matthew Kershaw said: "He was much loved by all of us, and all those that ever came in contact with him, and we are devastated for his family, and for his friends, who are truly all around the world."

At the scene in Warrington

Image caption The four-piece Warrington-based band were officially formed in May last year

BBC video journalist Olivia Richwald

The Lounge is a live music bar in Warrington and it's where friends say Viola Beach was "made".

Three members of the band had worked here, one of them, Tomas Lowe, for 10 years.

It's where the boys rehearsed and tried out new songs on a friendly crowd.

A poster of Viola Beach is still proudly displayed outside - it says the boys will be back in Warrington in March.

Not at the bar, because their fan base had grown too big, but at a bigger venue just over the road.

It was a homecoming gig that had sold out with two months to go, one that won't now take place.

This afternoon friends gathered inside the bar and spoke of how talented the band was and how they were just getting big. Successful but still modest, they said.

The Lounge is known as a live music venue. This afternoon it's silent.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The band and Mr Tarry were remembered ahead of Manchester City's game against Spurs on Sunday

The band's record label, Communion Records, expressed its "total shock and sorrow".

And Ian Grimble, the band's producer, said Viola Beach's energy and vibrancy "jumped out of the speakers".

He added: "It is with great sadness that we will not be able to see them grow from the spark that they are now, into the raging fire that they so desperately desired to become."

United Talent agency, which represented the band, said the four-piece was "a truly great team of young men and about to take on the world together".

Other figures from the music industry and fans of the band have also been paying tribute to the four-piece and their manager.

'Hungry and energetic'

BBC Radio 1's Huw Stephens said the Warrington band were "incredibly promising", were building a loyal fan base and had already toured with bigger bands.

Music promoter Dave Pichilingi booked the band for the Liverpool Sound City festival last year and they were scheduled to play again this year.

They were a "hungry, energetic, amazing" band who "were on the verge of great things", he said.

BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Dave Monks, who was among the first to play their music on air, said they were "great guys" who had "so much going for them".

Ross Jarman, from The Cribs, tweeted: "Heart goes out to the Viola Beach guys and their families."

Indie rock band, The Enemy, tweeted: "RIP Viola Beach and their manager. Such incredibly tragic and sad news. Thought with the friends and families of all involved x"

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

The principal of Priestley College in Warrington, where three of the band members went, said they had "really bright futures ahead of them".

"It is a very sad day for Priestley and for Warrington," he said.

A musician who played at the Where Is The Music? festival in Norrkoping, Sweden, said "they were fantastic people to be around".

John Olsson, from Swedish band Psykofant, said: "They were a great band. I was standing in the audience thinking I will be able to say I hung around with Viola Beach before they made it big."

Viola Beach

  • Four-piece band from Warrington, Cheshire
  • Kris Leonard - guitar, lead vocal; River Reeves - guitar; Tomas Lowe - bass; Jack Dakin - drums
  • Officially formed in May 2015
  • Released debut single Swings & Waterslides last year and put out their second single Boys That Sing on 22 January
  • Played several BBC Introducing Sessions
  • Performed at Reading and Leeds Festival in 2015

Read more about the band

Swedish police said they received a call about 02:30 local time (01:30 GMT) and were on the scene within five minutes.

They said divers recovered the bodies of the victims after their Nissan Qashqai plunged through a gap in the bridge, which has a middle section that rises directly upwards without tilting.

A barrier before the opening has flashing lights and warning signs, the officer handling the case said.

Inspector Martin Bergholm said: "For some reason, the car drove through the barriers and crashed down into the canal.

"The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear."

Eyewitness Jonny Alexandersson told the BBC he was waiting for the bridge to go down when he saw a car coming very fast on the left side.

"It was very tight," he said. "They passed me and in front of me was a taxi and the car smashed the side of this car and then they go in the barrier, then I don't see anything more of the car, the lights were gone."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The accident happened in the early hours of Saturday morning in Sodertalje
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The car was towed from the canal under the E4 highway bridge near Stockholm
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The bridge has a middle section that rises directly upwards, rather than tilting

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