‘A very good friend of mine’: Emotional Sam Fender dedicates Ivor Novello to late North Shields pub landlord

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The North Shields star is known for bringing his gongs home, but this dedication was more heartfelt than ever

Sam Fender has dedicated his Ivor Novello award to a North Shields pub landlord who passed away earlier this month.

Last week the Geordie singer picked up his latest accolade for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for 'Seventeen Going Under' at the prestigious Ivor Novello Awards, a prize formerly won by Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sande and Elbow.

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Fender is known for bringing his gongs back to the North East and dedicating his wins to causes such as North East Homeless - for who he will play an intimate Newcastle show this week.

However, this year's Ivor Novello award had an even more emotional dedication.

Upon receiving the prize, Fender said: "A very good friend of mine passed away last week, who was my first boss.

"He gave me a job when me and my mum were both unemployed.

"He used to hit me over the head with a newspaper for being a s*** barman.

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"I was always playing guitar in front of people instead of serving the customers.

"One day, he went, 'Go get your guitar out and sit in that corner.'

"Had he not told me to get my guitar that day, I wouldn’t have met that man over there [manager Owen] and none of this would have happened."

Sam Fender with his Ivor Novello award (Image: Getty Images)Sam Fender with his Ivor Novello award (Image: Getty Images)
Sam Fender with his Ivor Novello award (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

The recently passed father figure Fender spoke of was John O'Keefe, the former landlord at the Low Lights Tavern.

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The North Shields watering hole has a special place in Fender's heart and the singer returns back to the pub as much as he can.

In February, the star arrived at the pub 24 hours after his landmark Brit Award win, smashing a pinata of Boris Johnson on his arrival.

Earlier this year, bar manager Lynsey Guthrie told NewcastleWorld that Fender's career switch was probably a good thing.

She said: "He worked here seven or eight years ago.

"He was the worst employee and I've got no hesitation in saying that.

"He was the worst barman ever.

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"He'd pull half a pint for someone, let it settle and then go mess around on the guitar.

"Then he'd come back and say 'oh, I forgot to finish your drink'".

The Low Lights Tavern announced the passing of John O'Keefe on its Facebook page earlier this month.

A post read: "In case you have yet to hear, John O'Keefe died peacefully at home with his family around him last week.

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"John had no wish for a funeral and his family have asked that we pass on an invitation to his friends to raise a glass in his memory at Percy Park Rugby Club, Preston Ave, North Shields Wednesday 25/5 starting at 11 am. All welcome.

"Pictured here with his Brother the late great Dr Phil Okeefe.

"I hope they sell low-calorie Bass and Jamieson's over there!"

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