Remembering Buckingham drummer and Jane McDonald's late fiance, Eddie (Wally) Rothe

Singer's partner and former Liquid Gold star began his musical career playing at Buckingham Town Hall

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 1:09 pm
Eddie (Wally) Rothe pictured in Buckingham in 2006

The sad death recently of former Searchers and Liquid Gold drummer Eddie Rothe, aged 67, made national headlines when it was announced by his fiancee, the well-known TV singer and Loose Women star Jane McDonald.

But what is not so widely known is that Eddie, whose real name was Wally, was Buckingham born and bred, and that's where his musical career began.

Dance yourself dizzy! Watch Eddie's zany Top of the Pops performance from 1980Walter Edgar Rothe was born in Crown Cottage, School Lane, Buckingham (now demolished) and attended Well Street School, followed by Chandos Junior School and Buckingham Secondary Modern.

His father, Gerhard Rothe, was a German prisoner of war who had settled in Buckingham, where he met Wally's mother, Margaret Platt.

Wally's brother Franz and sister Helga still live in Buckingham, and his other brother Anthony lives in Brackley.

After leaving school in 1969, Wally worked at BEECO (Buckingham Electronic Engineering Co Ltd), then at Brooks Dairies in Well Street, and then the paint factory.

Wally began his musical career playing with local bands at Buckingham Town Hall.

His first band was The Amazing Sound of SP Leary in about 1969, followed by other bands including Rocket, Large as Life and Brewster.

After hitchhiking to Bletchley to catch a train to Paddington, Wally moved to London in 1975, where he formed Liquid Gold with two of his Brackley bandmates - Syd Twynham and Ray Knott.

The disco band's success peaked in 1980 with its No 2 chart hit Dance Yourself Dizzy - see video here - and they narrowly missed out on representing Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest - coming second to Bucks Fizz.

After Liquid Gold split up in 1982, Wally moved back to Buckingham, where he bought a house on Bristle Hill and set up the local band The Roadknights, which remained popular until the late '80s, when Wally was approached by the former Mud lead singer Les Gray to play drums in the touring band Les Gray's Mud.

After Les Gray's Mud disbanded in 2003, Wally got a job at Wipac Technology Ltd back in Buckingham, until he was again approached to play drums in a touring band - this time The Searchers.

The story of Wally's reunion with his former girlfriend Jane McDonald on the set of This Morning has been widely shared, but the couple had first met decades earlier in 1980 when Wally was living the rock'n'roll lifestyle and Jane was a shy teenager.

Wally's brother, Franz, said: "When he was at the height of Liquid Gold, he met this unknown singer up in Wakefield, who just turned out to be Jane McDonald."

Franz still remembers the teenage Jane visiting Buckingham.

"She drove all the way down from Wakefield to see him. She borrowed her dad's car.

"Nobody knew then that she would be famous."

After being reunited with Jane, Wally gave up his musical career to support her. The couple got engaged in 2008.

Wally died on March 26, after battling lung cancer. He leaves a daughter, Freya. A celebration of his life will be held at a future date.