At the coal face
Former miner Ken Bonsall’s band Ferocious Dog play a special concert in Wakefield next month. Duncan Seaman reports.
The loss of a child would have a profound effect on any family.
For Ken Bonsall the best way of honouring the memory of his son Lee seemed to be to channel his energies into his folk rock band Ferocious Dog.
Lee had given the band its name back when he was a toddler and his father was playing gigs in between working mining shifts at Welbeck colliery, in north Nottinghamshire.
When Lee took his own life in 2012 aged 24, he had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – a condition that set in after his best friend was shot dead while they were both serving as soldiers in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
“It was like we owed it to Lee to keep the name going,” says Bonsall, whose elder son Daniel plays fiddle in the band. “And what it does it occupies you, you’ve got to focus. We said the higher we get Ferocious Dog’s name is testament to Lee. It keeps his memory going in a way and that’s close to the people who know the band and know where the name comes from. It started off as a joke but we kept the name. Now he’s not here that’s where we throw everything.”
The family have also set up a memorial fund in Lee’s name, to help other sufferers of PTSD.
Two years ago Ferocious Dog became a six-piece and the gigs gradually got bigger. “New band members does help,” admits Bonsall, “because you get people who are more professional who want the music industry kind of thing rather than just being a pub band.” Although drummer Scott Walters recently had to bow out due to his own business commitments, the band swiftly found a replacement in Alex Smith. “The good thing about having the stature of Ferocious Dog is you get good people who want to be on board, so we’ve now got really professional players who’ve played with world-famous bands like The Damned,” says Bonsall.
The good thing
is... you get good people who want to be on