12 February 2014
Rita Ferris-Taylor and Tam Reid remember Alexander Cooper Black (Sandy or Sulieman) Easton who sadly died on 25th January 2014. Dao remembers him as a valued member of the disability arts community and would like to offer condolences to his family and wife Kirin.
Our friend Sandy has died after an illness that he handled with his usual phlegmatic stoicism. From a very young age, he attended the Royal School for the Blind in Edinburgh. Later, Sandy attended Edinburgh University, where he studied linguistics. As a young adult, he moved to Croydon and then lived in different parts of North London, before moving back to Scotland not long before he died.
Sandy was a talented musician and singer, who could play a wide range of musical instruments by ear, always having a great curiosity and interest in diverse styles of music, although folk was his real love. As he put it, on the sleeve notes of Beggar’s Belief’s ‘We’ll Drink till we are Dry’ –
"We believe fervently that folk music is the best music and should be presented in forms right for the time; we enjoy bringing to life music we like in new and different ways; we want to make our contribution to keeping traditional music on people’s lips as well as in dusty archives."
Sandy certainly brought many folk songs to life with his mellifluous voice, indefatigable playing and own arrangements of traditional folk songs. He had a great pleasure in detail, revelling in telling the provenance and history of the songs he sang, in various bands such as Beggar’s Belief, a later line up called Flexible Friends and more recently in a CD called Venturing Forth, that he made with other blind musician friends. Sandy was an official London Underground busker and was frequently to be seen travelling far and wide across London with a huge keyboard in a rucksack on his back.
Sandy was, for many years, a very active member of the Venturer’s Drama Group, performing in many plays, most notably as a German Doctor in Arsenic and Old Lace and the role of Dr. Watson in the Mazarin Stone, a version which he wrote and adapted himself and which linked to his great love of Sherlock Holmes.
Sandy was delighted when the play attracted a good review in the Sherlock Holmes magazine. He was also a part of Effing and Blinding cabaret, which performed in several venues across Europe. He took part in Extant Dance group and enjoyed the end of session performance at the Oval Theatre last year.
Sandy had a great energy and enthusiasm for life – besides music, he loved experimenting with different accents, often phoning us in different voices and confusing us about who was ringing!!! He loved food and drink and, due to his enthusiasm, was a very rewarding dinner guest as well as a great and creative cook himself!! He was a kind and gentle person, who never had a bad word to say about anyone. We will miss him greatly.
Sandy leaves behind his new bride, Kirin, to whom he was devoted and a close and supportive family, including his sisters Alison, Anne and Avril and his brother, Billy.