The Death Of Joey Pyle Snr.






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At 9.30am on Wednesday 28th February 2007 I arrived at Camelot to discover the castle packed to the rafters with mourners and more still coming in every second. They filled Dave's to the brim and spilled out of the door, into the front garden and packed the spacious driveway.

I found Dave in unusually low sprits just playing pool with friends quietly and not laughing and joking as he always is. But being as hospitable as ever he had laid on food and drink for everyone before we left.

At around 10.00am coaches arrived to take us all to the services, with the exception of Dave who had chosen to take a ride in a friends car preferring the quieter atmosphere for a change.


People queuing to get on the buses

Whilst on the coach "Mouth Of The South" Lady J played mother by instructing us of the journeys progress and ensuring that toilet breaks where kept to a minimum. I also started chatting to documentary film maker Danny who had decided to film the event for Dave as well as you all here at (coming soon).

When we arrived at what  would be the start of the funeral procession, the Road which Joey had called home, I was stunned to see the sea of black made up of the funeral cars that filled the curb sides and the thousands of mourners who littered the street as they stepped out of the 3 52 seater coaches and the fleet of minibuses.

All of the funeral cars

 Lines of mourners

Dave stood right at the back of the lines of mourners, keeping a low profile and chatting, hugging and shaking hands quietly to many of the guests.

Dave waiting for the procession to begin.

We waited for the funeral procession to get underway for around 30 minutes and we watched the police block off the road. Many mourners wanted to use the bathroom but couldn't as local authorities had told all local pubs and businesses to close so that mourners couldn't use the facilities.

Police road block.

When the funeral procession went underway It was led by several members of the Outlaw Motorcycle Club on pristine bikes, followed by 4 beautiful black horses dressed in full regalia drawing a large and ornate glass sided Victorian carriage which contained the coffin.

The outlaws who lead the procession

The Horse and carriage

The carriage carrying Joey

Next came 2 flower carrying funeral cars decorated in a large Cesar's medallion and the words "MY PAL JOEY" spelt out in flowers as well as many others. Behind those was 19 black official funeral cars, 2 privately rented limos and 157 private cars followed by around 300 walking mourners who made the 1 mile trip to the end of the road on foot.

"My pal Joey" in flowers

Caesars Medallion in flowers

Joe's favourite photograph travelled with him in his carriage, Church and Chapel. Joe's farewell gift from his friend and agent Lesley. 

I made the trip on foot walking with comedian, actor, ghost writer and after diner speaker Sean Boru who talked to me about his latest project where he lived with Lottery Winner Mickey Carroll.

At the end of the road we met up with our relevant wheels and moved on to St Theresa's Church where the first ceremony would take place. On this journey the local residents left their homes to stand at the road side and watch the procession go by as did the police who watched us all from the central traffic Islands. As we approached a cross roads the traffic lights let all the official funeral cars go through before turning to red on the rest of us. 11 times the rest of the 3 sections lights changed whilst we stayed on red which did give us a chance to see 2 uniformed police officers laughing and joking with two other men in mourning clothes who later turned out to be plan clothed police officers who where sent in to mingle with the rest of us later.

When we finally got to the church we had missed the coffin being carried in by Roy Shaw, Freddie Foreman, Jamie Foeman, Ronnie Fields, Charlie Richardson and V Dark. One man from each corner of London.

The church was packed to over flowing, so much so that the doors couldn't be closed and hoards stood on the steps, squeezed together with there heads cocked towards the open door to listen out for the singing of hymn "Onward Christian Pilgrims", followed by the reading from "The Book Of Wisdom" by Francesca, The Responsorial Psalm, the reading by Raymond from "Romans", the gospel reading from Matthew, the sound of Ave Maria as those inside took communion, the eulogy given by Wilf Pine, the singing of "Jerusalem" and finally A Psalm of David.


The bursting church


Those inside received the order of service for the great Joey Pyle which featured the moving words of his closest loved ones including Dave who said ;



"I'm not one for being stuck for something to say but right this minute I'm fu*@!d."

"Joe told me that his dad wanted me to say something at a funeral and I don't know where or how to start. The genuine article "Joey Pyle" he was, and to go through his chosen path of life meeting all the different and unique people he did and not have even person think nothing else but respect, admiration and love for him is an accolade that not many people can have said about themselves. But he was truly blessed and everybody that ever had the pleasure of meeting him will tell you exactly that. A man amongst men and treated everybody the same. He once told me that its the little wheels that make the big wheels go round, and home true that is. He practised what he preached and gave everyone the very best of him the he possibly could in every situation. I speak on behalf of everyone when I say he will be dearly missed and today's show of people to send him off proves that."



It also contained a very moving poem by Joey Pyle Snr himself which read;



What we get in life is the way we live,

But we make a life from what we give.

Life's not so short that we shouldn't care,

For we only live once and we don't have a spare.


Try to ignore what life owes to you,

And remember the debts that you owe too.

For it's best to live life poor and be healthy,

Than to live through sickness the die wealthy.


Now when you judge others, be sure to be wise,

Look first with your heart and then with your eyes.

And stand by your morals and reach for the heights,

As you win when you loose when you stand by your rights.



Those mourners who couldn't fit into the church stood outside staring in awe as they looked to the right of the church at the massive 32 foot artic trailer piled high with flowers of every shape and size and in shock as they looked to the left to see police officers and riot vans.

The trailer carrying floral tributes

We only moved on when we over heard 2 officers asking a funeral director to point out all their cars so that they could get all the rest of the cars owners charge with obstruction.

                  Mourners waiting outside the church                  Police presents outside the church


We then all packed ourselves back into our vehicles as it started to rain and moved on to Sutton and Merton Cemetery where the second service would be held. We started out waiting in a small shelter just by the gate but as our numbers grew we could no longer fit in there so we decided to brave the rain and walk up to the chapel inside the cemetery.

As we all convened there it was amazing to see the wide and diverse people in the crowed. Writers, film actors, TV personalities, bikers, sports stars, singers, artists and firms all huddled together 4 to an umbrella or under trees to brave the freezing cold and harsh rains. Then to make matters worse it began to hail down a mass of skin bruising hale stones. It was at that point the chapel doors opened for us to take shelter, and it was here that I finally found Dave seated and quite. You could tell in his face that he was genuinely moved by the events of the day.

Dave sheltering from the hale stones.

I asked him what he thought about today to which he replied;

"You wouldn't be able to fit in a book what I'd like to say about him. He was a people's person. He took people under his wing and connected people up - 99 per cent of the people at the Krays funeral never even knew them but everyone here knew Joey."

As quickly as the hale started, it quickly faded and people began to venture outside again. However, it did start again briefly but only after some thunder and lightning and some more rain.

Mourners at the second ceremony

We all waited there for over an hour on those cemetery steps and waited. At about 14.15 the weather improved and people started to put down the umbrellas and mingle once more but when the purr of a well tuned motorbike was heard in the distance we knew that the procession was on its way back to us and all fell silent.

Funeral Cars arriving at the second service.

Sure enough lead in by one of the Outlaws the procession crawled up the drive and the procession of 23 cars made up of official funeral cars and privately rented limo filled the entire driveway. When they came to a stop the rain started again as a further 53 privately owned cars pulled up in two lines either side of the funeral cars. Over 100 other cars littered the surrounding streets.


After a short service almost 3000 mourners braved the rain and strong winds to drudge across the wet grass to the graveside to say there final goodbyes to the legend that will always be Joey Pyle.


A car in the procession

As there was so many mourners, 3 separate wakes where held in Joeys honour including one at Dave's home.






Since yesterday, many of the UK's toughest men have found themselves weeping uncontrollably. People with solid reputations as hard and dangerous men said goodbye while trying and failing to choke back floods of tears as they told another man they loved him. The one they had come to say their final farewell's to was of course the great Joey Pyle.

Of course, we all knew Joe had been ill for a long time, but strangely, it was still a huge shock. It seems nothing can prepare you completely for bad news even if you know it's coming. The benefit show we all did for him was almost a year ago to the day. I remember some trepidation about whether Joe would make it to see that show.

True to form though, Joe fought on for a year despite the debilitating
illness he was living with, never gave up. I have said before and will say again now, Joey Pyle did a lot more good in his eventful life than he ever did bad. Sure, he did some naughty things but he also worked tirelessly for sick and underprivileged children among many other good causes. He would frequently visit Zoe's place children's hospice with the other chaps and was so touched and inspired by these amazing kids that he wrote a book called 'Looking at life' and gave every single penny it made to Zoe's while simultaneously exposing those huge companies that had made vast fortunes from children's products but refused to give anything back. Joe continued with this work until his strength finally deserted him. His loyalty and generosity to his friends was also huge. While others talked about it, Joe just did it and there were very successful benefit nights for Ronnie Biggs, Charlie Bronson, Wendy Lambrianou and many others. Joe was always being asked to help out somebody or something and I personally never saw him turn anyone down.

As far as the chaps are concerned, I would certainly say Joe was the most popular and I truly mean that. There were many reasons for this, not least Joe's larger than life personality. Perhaps the biggest factor was that despite being close to the Nash family, Joe wasn't connected to anyone firm so became friendly with all of them. For example, he was great friends with the Kray's and the Richardson's so could pop down the East End and see Ronnie & Reggie or into South London for a drink with Charlie and Eddie. He was good friends with both Roy Shaw and Lenny Mclean, Freddie Foreman and Jack Mcvitie. Within the so called underworld, Joe had no enemies to speak of. He always saw the advantages in peace over mindless violence for violence sake. He would also stick up for the underdog despite the fact it may have upset some faces. For example, he always said that Jack Mcvitie deserved a far more dignified end than he got. "Jack died like a grass, a slag and he was no grass. He deserved a far more dignified end than a room full of people jumping on him to try and impress the twins."

Roy Shaw will tell you straight that Joey Pyle literally saved his life
three or four times over. It was because of Joe's involvement that Roy
finally saw the light of day after barely surviving hell on earth, drugged up with the liquid cosh, hallucinating in pitch darkness in the dungeons below Broadmoor. Without Joe, would Roy have died a slow painful death in the bowels of hell a forgotten man? Roy will answer yes!

Joe stood by Dave Courtney at a time when it would of been far easier for him just to blank Dave, Joe didn't. Many did though, only to drift back because Joe was sticking with him.

Joey Pyle Snr. and Dave
It was Joe that Charlie Bronson called Dad after his own father passed away. There was no criminal link there, it was just that Charlie looked up to Joe, learned from him and was inspired by him. Charlie is just one of those hard men that are not ashamed to have shed many tears since yesterday. The amount of quality people I have spoken to since yesterday has been truly mind blowing and no, they are not all rascals.

The vacuum that will be left by Joe will be impossible to fill, in fact it's not worth even trying. He was a one off, unique. He was also the glue that kept many people who on the face of it had nothing in common together. 'How's Joe?' was a classic ice breaker and got people over awkward conversation lapses. If you think I am over playing the importance of Joe, it's obvious you never even knew him.

Roy Shaw, Joey Pyle and Tony Lambrianou in slightly younger days

I could go on and on and on but I shall leave it there.

God Bless Joe, you will NEVER be forgotten.

Tel Currie






Copyright @ Dave Courtney and Mal 1998-2010 All Rights Reserved

This page last updated 1st March 2007