Peter Solley, Producer For The Romantics & The Black Sorrows, Passes Away

20 November 2023 | 10:42 am | Mary Varvaris

Peter Solley has worked with The Black Sorrows, The Romantics, Motörhead, Peter Frampton, and many more.

Peter Solley in the studio with The Black Sorrows

Peter Solley in the studio with The Black Sorrows (Courtesy of Joe Camilleri)

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English musician and record producer Peter Solley has passed away, The Black SorrowsJoe Camilleri revealed in a Facebook statement on Saturday (18 November). He was 75 years old.

In the 70s, Solley was a founding member of the English progressive rock band Paladin, played the organ and synthesisers in Procul Harum, joined Whitesnake in their early days, as well as work with others. By the time the 1980s came, Solley was working as a record producer, gaining credentials with Aussie acts Sports and Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons.

His best-known production credits include the 1980 The Romantics single, What I Like About You and the Grammy-nominated Motörhead album 1916. He’s also produced tracks and albums by Peter Frampton, Ted Nugent, The Jam, Oingo Boingo, and more.

“At 7pm 16 Nov USA and 11am 17 Nov Aust… Peter chose to leave his mortal coil… I was prepared with a half glass of whiskey and Lee Morgan on the turntable… tears… all the buttons were pushed as the bells rang out… sail on sweet prince sail on,” Camilleri wrote on The Black Sorrows’ Facebook page.

Camilleri revealed that he spent time with Solley in his hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont, “just two weeks ago”. He continued, “We didn’t have to talk much and we didn’t... I did mention how inconvenient this was… he was meant to come back to the land of Oz and produce the next Black Sorrows’ album... so now I find myself asking what would Peter do? I’m lost with a sadness... I got to hold my friend and say my goodbyes”.

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Writing that he didn’t want to like Solley when the pair first met – “he was all business while I was all elastic”, Camilleri shared that his attempted dislike “lasted about a day and that was that.” “Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons was a great live band and Peter was able to capture that energy on record.

“We found something else… a friendship… a brotherhood that can’t be broken by distance or time… we could pick up where we left off… all that had to be said was... are you up for one more dance?

“[2021 The Black Sorrows album] Saint Georges Road… an album that really benefitted from Pete’s guiding hand… he made the hard calls that I wouldn’t. Best part… driving up and down the freeway… we were brothers doing dumb stuff... every day had its challenges… there was wisdom in the whiskey glasses and jazz was always on the turntable. So there’s more stories to keep on telling”.

“Peter’s wife Susan Tondreau is one hell of a gal… every day was a gift of love to him.”

Leo Sayer is also mourning Peter Solley, writing on Facebook yesterday, “Sad news- another of those really talented and important music people that Australia has given to the world. RIP Pete”.