South Wales Echo

MY FRIEND ‘DARTH VADER’

- DAVID OWENS Reporter dave.owens@walesonlin­e.co.uk

THE Welsh musician who was Dave Prowse’s best friend has described their unlikely friendship and how much he will miss the Darth Vader actor, who has died aged 85.

Despite a four-decade age difference, Prowse and Jayce Lewis hit it off over a love of music when they met at a Star Wars convention in Cardiff in 2001.

What blossomed was an enduring bond that saw the pair cultivate a father-and-son relationsh­ip, travelling the world together.

“I was beyond myself that Darth Vader was in Cardiff,” said Jayce, who is from Kenfig Hill, Bridgend, recalling that fateful first meeting. “I thought I had to get an autographe­d picture. I queued up for about 45 minutes. Dave asked me what I wanted written on the picture, and I said can you sign it to ‘number one drummer’.

“Dave told me his son was a drummer and maybe he should put me in touch with him. And it went from there. He literally stopped the queue, said he wanted to go for a coffee, and invited me to go with him. We chatted for about 20 minutes, exchanged our address and telephone number. A week later I had a phone call from him. I’ll never forget him saying, ‘Hi, this is Darth Vader.’ I knew immediatel­y who it was.”

Jayce said their relationsh­ip blossomed immediatel­y, as he became a close friend and confidante to the actor.

“I was 23,” he recalled. “I was beside myself that Darth Vader wanted to be my mate, and it never stopped. Our friendship continued to escalate. He was almost like a lone wolf. He had a lot of people around him, lots of associates, but he never had a real close friend, and I seemingly fitted in to that void. We did so much together.”

The weightlift­er-turned-actor, also famed as road safety superhero, The Green Cross Code Man, quickly became Jayce’s manager and mentor, a role he occupied up until 2011.

“He advised me massively with finances,” said Jayce, who has released several albums. “How to save, how to invest, how you should never trust anybody. He had an incredible ability in detail with business matters. That was so inspiring. He was an absolute mentor to me.”

The pair travelled the world, Jayce accompanyi­ng his best mate at global sci-fi convention­s while meeting many Star Wars icons along the way, as people went wild for appearance­s by Darth Vader.

“He wanted to introduce me to everyone at the convention­s as his new protegée,” said Jayce. “He introduced me to Mark Hammill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Kenny Baker (R2D2) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca).

“We travelled everywhere, UK, Europe and the US. Everybody made such a fuss out of him and he wanted everyone to make a fuss out of me. It was head spinning if I’m honest.

“It was also funny seeing fully grown men, who were large bodybuilde­r types with tattoos on their necks, watching them tremble and turn into complete fanboys when they met Darth Vader. Dave would try and relax them. He was always so considerat­e to the fans.”

Despite playing one of the most villainous on screen characters of all time, Jayce said that Dave was a gentle giant.

“He was the friendlies­t giant anybody could ever wish to meet and the most humble and modest villain of all time. Sometimes I would shake my head often thinking this is Darth Vader. To me and his family he was Dave, but it was surreal hopping in and out of these odd worlds with him. On the one hand he was this amazing gentleman, with huge broad shoulders, a very kindhearte­d person. Then on the other hand he was playing one of the greatest villains of all time. It was something I never got used to.”

Jayce said the pair were so close, it was like a father and son relationsh­ip – and much more besides.

“He was like a best friend, grandparen­t, father, mentor, business associate, manager, all in one.

“He was the making of me. And I’ll miss him dearly, forever.”

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 ?? JAYCE LEWIS ?? Dave Prowse with Welsh musician and best friend, Jayce Lewis
JAYCE LEWIS Dave Prowse with Welsh musician and best friend, Jayce Lewis
 ??  ?? Dave Prowse played Darth Vader in Star Wars
Dave Prowse played Darth Vader in Star Wars

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