It is very sad to report the death of Johnny Silvo – arguably the best all-round folk entertainer ever to appear in Irvine. Johnny died peacefully at his home in Norwayon Sunday 18th December. He is survived by his wife Berit and son Patrick.
Johnny first appeared at Marymass Folk Festival in 1974 and since then has built up a strong and loyal fan base and a wide circle of friends who sang with him, had a dram with him, golfed with him. He was an extremely affable and popular man. Johnny has sung and played in numerous Irvine Pubs – including of course the former Eglinton Arms, played at umpteen Marymass Folk Festivals as well as Schools, Rotary events, Senior Citizens concerts, Care Homes…the list goes on.
It is hard to think of anyone with a voice to match his superb tone, clarity and volume. Added to which, Johnny was an exceptionally fine guitarist.
After completing National Service, Johnny Woods changed his name to Johnny Silvo and played with Jazz, Skiffle and Blues bands, did a stint at presenting PlaySchool on TV before commencing a solo career. It was when he was with London’s Ann Dex Agency that he first came to the attention of Irvine Folk Club.
It hardly seems possible that Johnny could have been topping the bill at this year’s Marymass Folk Festival’s Saturday Night Concert in the Volunteer Rooms singing favourites like Blueberry Hill, I wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate, I’ll fly away. He was in excellent form and there were many who remarked that, like good wine, Johnny was improving with age. Then came the awful news that Johnny had cancer and had only a few months left.
Johnny’s zest for life sticks in the mind. He leaves a huge gap and will be much missed.