In November 2016 I read in the newspaper that Craig Gill who was the drummer for Inspiral Carpets had died having been been “found unresponsive” at his home in Greenfield, Saddleworth. I was never a big fan of the group but it’s always good to see northern folk doing well. No new information came forth about the cause of death when some funeral snaps appeared in the newspapers but an inquest later revealed Craig had killed himself.
The funeral was held Hollinwood Crematorium so on a drive to see relatives in Todmorden I thought I’d call in and have a look. Being a nerd I also sought out the hospital that Craig was rushed to.
Craig (“Gilly” to his chums) was born in Chadderton not far from where he died and was the drummer of the Oldham-based alternative-rock band Inspiral Carpets formed in 1983. Their sound marked by organ playing and distorted guitars got them signed to Mute Records. Craig was the youngest in the band and other band member often had to collect him from school to take him to rehearsals. The band was successful though the 1980's and were part of the Madchester movement happened in the 1990s.
He was music-mad and when the band split up he ran a record stall at Affleck's Palace in Manchester and worked as a club DJ. With a wife and three children he was never one to move down to big London and ran musical tours around Manchester, explaining landmarks relating to the Madchester scene and Manchester's musical heritage. There was a book, too - The Manchester Musical History Tour which he co-wrote. Twenty years after the band started they reformed to tour and record their self-titled album in 2014.
On Sunday 20th November 2016 the family had tickets to go to MediaCity to watch a show. Tickets were sold on a first-come-first-served basis and they arrived early. Craig had a headache, went to buy some pain killers and then asked his wife if she minded if he went home. He arranged to collect them later on. The show finished late and his wife called Craig to say they’d get the late train. She texted him at 8.34pm to say they were minutes from the local train station and could he pick them up. No reply so she called and there was no reply. Back at home their son ran ahead but struggled to get into his parent’s bedroom where Craig had hung himself.
His wife called for an ambulance and carried out CPR until it arrived. They rushed to Royal Oldham Hospital but it was too late. A police investigation showed no sign of any disturbance at the house. There was no note or signs the suicide was pre-meditated. The coroner concluded suicide but with an open verdict as she could not be sure - to the criminal standard of proof - that he had intended to kill himself.
The death sent shockwaves through family and friends. Nothing obvious prefaced the suicide - no depression, worry monies, drinking to oblivion, calls to the Samaritans or mid-life crisis. Unbearable tinnitus was thought to be the only reason for the death. Craig had suffered from a ringing in his ears since his late teens and in the last ten years it had worsened. A few weeks before his death it escalated. Over the years I’ve read of many occasions where people killed themselves as peace and silence is impossible to find. What pushed Craig over the edge that evening without scribbling a brief note of explanation is a mystery – who can ever know that dwells in the cavernous hollows at the bottom of people’s souls?
He was cremated on what would have been his 45th birthday and there was a celebration of his life held at Salford Lads' Club. He left a wife, three children and an unsleeping unanswered question, “Why?!”
Craig outside Sifters record shop…
The hospital where Craig was brought to…
Accident and Emergency…