A rock and blues singer from Carlisle - who shot to fame in bands such as The V.I.P's, Spooky Tooth and Hamburg Blues Band - has died.

Mike Harrison grew up in the city and started his bands here, playing many venues in the 1960s such as the Cosmo.

Musician Olly Alcock said Mike, who died aged 75, was an "inspiration" to him as a young boy.

He said: "Mike was up there with the best. He had a massive talent. I really looked up to Mike and his boys. He was a catalyst for a young guy like me to become a musician.

"If he had been a little bit nearer mainstream then he would have been massive as he had that talent.

"Bands like Sabbath were heavily influenced by Mike and his boys.

"I once saw the V.I.P's at a gig at the Cosmo in Carlisle and I believe Tony Iommi and some of the Sabbath guys were at this gig.

"Their PA was so small - they had great equipment and the best echo machine ever - a wonderful Binson Echorec.

"They were good musically - quite heavy but good.

"Mike was the lead singer and someone to really look up to. He was cool and had a certain aura about him.

"Mike and his band used to rehearse in the rooms above the Kings Head on Fisher Street."

The V.I.P's had the distinction of playing with Jimi Hendrix during Hendrix's first night in Britain in London.

The V.I.P's later changed their name to Art then Spooky Tooth.

After leaving Carlisle the band moved to London and then spent time in Hamburg, Germany.

Mr Alcock said: "Mike and his band did a lot of stuff in Germany.
Olly Alcock They followed the Beatles trail and he played a lot with the Hamburg Blues Band."

In 1968, Mike was in the Musician's Musician of the Year awards from the Melody Maker music press.

Mr Alcock added: "All I can say is thanks Mike for everything. It made dreams for us young-uns who followed on."

Mike lived in Low Row, near Brampton, at the time of his death.