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Viola Beach
The members of Viola Beach in 2016
The members of Viola Beach in 2016
Background information
OriginWarrington, Cheshire, England
Years active2013–2016
  • Fuller Beans
  • Communion
Past members
  • Kris Leonard
  • River Reeves
  • Tomas Lowe
  • Jack Dakin
  • Frankie Coulson
  • Jonny Gibson

Viola Beach were an English indie rock group, formed in Warrington, Cheshire, in 2013.[1] The band's final line-up consisted of Kris Leonard (guitar and vocals), River Reeves (guitar), Tomas Lowe (bass guitar), and Jack Dakin (drums). All four, along with their manager Craig Tarry, died in a car crash in Södertälje, Sweden, on 13 February 2016.[2][3][4][5]

In the week following the crash, their single "Boys That Sing" entered the UK Singles Chart at number 80 and their previous single "Swings & Waterslides" entered at number 11, following a public campaign to boost sales.[6] In the same week, "Swings and Waterslides" also entered at number 3 on the sales-only chart (which excludes streaming data) and "Boys That Sing" entered at number 27 on the same chart.[7] On 29 July 2016, the self-titled album was released.[8][9] It reached number one on the album chart on 5 August 2016.[10]


Viola Beach formed in Warrington, Cheshire, in May 2013, the original members being Kris Leonard (guitar and vocals), Frankie Coulson (guitar), Jonny Gibson (bass), and Jack Dakin (drums).[11] The band's final line-up was formed when Coulson and Gibson opted to leave the band in 2015 in order to focus on their university studies,[12] and were replaced by River Reeves (guitar) and Tomas Lowe (bass) respectively.[13][14]

By September of their formation year, their track "Daisies"[15] was featured on Bandcamp's The Indie Cassette Player's (now known as The Mill Records) second compilation album, with "Love My Love" being featured on the website's third compilation album in October.[16]

The band self-financed the recording of their first single, "Swings & Waterslides", releasing it on their own record label Fuller Beans.[17] The track was produced by Ady Hall and Lee McCarthy of Sugar House and recorded at Catalyst Studios in St Helens.[17] "Swings & Waterslides" was added to the BBC Radio 1 playlist in September 2015.[18]

The band were supported by BBC Introducing, a platform for emerging musical talent, which described their songs as "infectious anthems" with "hints of slacker pop".[18] They performed at the BBC Introducing Stage of the 2015 Reading and Leeds Festivals.[13][19] In November 2015, the band recorded a live session for BBC Radio 1.[20] They released their second single, "Boys That Sing"/"Like a Fool", on the Communion label on 22 January 2016.[21]

On 17 June, the band's debut self-titled album was announced for release on 29 July 2016, to consist of 9 tracks including "Boys That Sing" and a BBC session, and released on the band's own Fuller Beans Records label. The announcement was accompanied by a statement from the members' families.[22] It reached number one on the album chart on 5 August.[10]


When asked about his musical influences, singer-guitarist Kris Leonard said, "I'm definitely not consciously influenced by anyone",[13] but mentioned the Coral, the Zutons, the Beatles and Hooton Tennis Club as being among his favourite Liverpool bands.[13] He also said the Kooks' debut studio album Inside In/Inside Out played a big part in him becoming a musician.[23] BBC Introducing recommended the band to fans of Coasts and the Kooks,[18] while other critics drew comparisons with 1990s Britpop.[24]

Leonard told Wonderland magazine that much of the band's lyrical content was inspired by their "very grey and industrial" hometown, where there was "nothing to do other than drink cider and smoke rollies on a park and chase after girls".[23]


File:Södertälje kanal, flygfoto 2014-09-20.jpg

The bridges over the Södertälje Canal. The accident took place on the E4 motorway bridge (centre).

On 13 February 2016, the four band members and their manager, Craig Tarry, were killed in an incident on the E4 motorway bridge at Södertälje, southwest of Stockholm, Sweden.[3][4][5] Witnesses saw the car fall through a gap in the bridge, which was open to let a boat pass.[25] The band had played at the Where's the Music? festival in Norrköping the previous day.[2] The cause of the crash was not immediately known.[25] On 15 February it was announced that the Swedish police had opened an inquiry into the incident.[26]

On 25 February a Stockholm police spokesperson was quoted as saying, "We can confirm that the very preliminary post mortem results show that the driver of the car had no trace of alcohol or drugs in the blood."[27] Police did not release the identity of the driver.[27] On the same day, the police officer in charge of the investigation was quoted as saying, "We have been able to see that the car braked before reaching the bridge. That allows us to rule out that the driver fell asleep. But what has actually happened is completely inexplicable. Right now there is no hypothesis."[28]

In the United Kingdom, inquests into the deaths were opened and adjourned on 3 March at Warrington Coroner's Court by Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg, who also released the bodies of the five men so their families could make funeral arrangements.[29]

After analysis video from a traffic camera, the police offered a reconstruction of the event. After the bridge barriers had been lowered and before Viola Beach's car came, two lorries stood in the right lane and two personal cars in the left lane, in front of the bridge's first barrier. Viola Beach's car came in the left lane, used the brakes then swerved into the narrow shoulder of the road to the left, momentarily used the brake after passing the first car, then drove on. The driver in the front car in the left lane estimated the band's car drove past at 60 km/h. He said the band's car drove without using the brake through the two barriers. The car hit the opening bridge which had been raised 1.5 m (4.92 ft), then fell 30 m down into the canal; the impact of hitting the bridge may have been enough to kill the car's occupants.[30]


On 14 February, the day the news was announced, there was a round of applause for the band at the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.[31] Manager Craig Tarry was a Manchester City supporter.[31] Tributes were made at The Lounge, the club where they began their careers, and Warrington Town Hall flew its flag at half-mast in the week following their deaths.[32]

The band had been scheduled to support Blossoms on a tour of the UK and Ireland during February and March 2016,[33] and to play at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, in March 2016.[34][35] Other scheduled appearances in 2016 included The Great Escape Festival and T in the Park.[33] Viola Beach had also been booked to play at their hometown's Pyramid and Parr Hall, in March and October respectively.[32]

A social media campaign was initiated by fans to get the band's single "Swings & Waterslides" to the top of the UK Singles Chart. The campaign later drew support from former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, Ian Brown of The Stone Roses and rock band Kasabian.[36] The single appeared at number 39 in the Official Chart Update published 15 February 2016, and climbed to number 11 by the end of the week.[6][37][38] On 18 February it had briefly reached number one on the iTunes chart.[39]

Following news of the band members' deaths, it was announced that all proceeds from their latest single would be donated to the families of the band members and of their manager.[21] On 18 February Blossoms, who had performed with the band in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, two days before their deaths, announced they would play a recording of the Leamington concert at a gig in Bournemouth that evening. They also planned to showcase the band's material on the tour where Viola Beach were scheduled to support them.[40]

On 2 April 2016, a tribute concert was staged at Warrington's Parr Hall, with performances by several of the band's friends and influences, including the Coral, the Courteeners, the Kooks, and Blossoms.[41] The Zutons also made a "rare live appearance" at the event.[42]

The band had recorded songs for a five- or six-track EP, which was scheduled to be released in 2016.[43] When asked about the possibility of further recordings being released, the band's agent was quoted as saying, "There's a lot of music, a lot of demos, a lot of amazing songs, and it'd be great if it got out, but at the moment, everybody's still grieving. We need to sit down and work out what we do with it."[43]

On 26 June 2016, Coldplay, led by Chris Martin, paid tribute to Viola Beach at Glastonbury Festival 2016 during their set by covering the band's song, "Boys That Sing' and, subsequently, encouraged fans to buy the single.[44]



Title Details Peak chart positions
Viola Beach
  • Release date: 29 July 2016
  • Label: Fuller Beans Records
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
1 29 1


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
2015 "Swings & Waterslides" 11 6 Viola Beach
2016 "Boys That Sing" 50 22


  1. "Viola Beach die in car crash in Sweden". BBC News. BBC. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Khomami, Nadia; Meikle, James (14 February 2016). "Members and manager of indie band Viola Beach die in car crash in Sweden". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "UK band Viola Beach 'killed in Swedish car crash'". BBC News. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Members of UK band Viola Beach reportedly killed in Sweden car crash". 14 February 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Members of British indie band Viola Beach among five killed after car plunges off bridge in Sweden". Nine Network. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Viola Beach single Swings & Waterslides enters top 20". BBC News. 19 February 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  7. "Official Singles Sales Chart Top 100". 19 February 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  8. "Viola Beach set for posthumous number one". BBC News. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  9. "Viola Beach debut album posthumously released". The Guardian. 29 July 2016. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Viola Beach claim posthumous number one album". BBC News. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  11. "Viola Beach". The Music Manual. 4 January 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Guy, Peter (12 November 2015). "Viola Beach – Buzz Band of the Week". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  14. "30 seconds interview: Viola Beach". M. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  15. "September 2013 – Volume 2 [FREE]". The Mill Records. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  16. "October 2013 – Volume 3 [FREE]". The Mill Records. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Morgan, David (19 February 2016). "How Viola Beach took on the music industry after self funding their debut single, Swings and Waterslides". Warrington Guardian. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Cobain, Elise (3 September 2015). "On the playlist: Viola Beach – Swings & Waterslides". BBC Introducing. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  19. Staufenberg, Jess (14 February 2016). "Viola Beach: British band in Sweden canal crash performed at Leeds and Reading festivals". The Independent. Independent News and Media. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  20. Parry, Josh (14 February 2016). "Viola Beach tribute show to be played on Radio 1". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Margan, Max (14 February 2016). "Family tributes to Viola Beach band members killed in car crash". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  22. Sklinar Green, Kimberley-Marie. "Viola Beach album to be released by families this July". Never Enough Notes. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Nicholson, Lizzy (29 January 2016). "New Noise: Viola Beach". Wonderland Magazine. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  24. "Découverte musique : Viola Beach". Le Parisien (in French). 28 August 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Viola Beach families pay tribute to band and manager". BBC News. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  26. "Viola Beach crash inquiry begins in Sweden". BBC News. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Haroon Siddique and agency (25 February 2016). "Viola Beach driver was not intoxicated when car crashed". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 February 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  28. "Viola Beach crash driver was not drunk, autopsy suggests". The Local. 25 February 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  29. "Viola Beach deaths: Bodies returned to family members". BBC News. BBC. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  30. "Så körde popbandet mot döden på bron". Aftonbladet. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Critchley, Mark (14 February 2016). "Viola Beach: Manchester City fans 'clap for Craig' and pay tribute to crash victim against Tottenham". The Independent. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  32. 32.0 32.1 "Flowers, beer and a guitar left in tribute to Viola Beach". Warrington Guardian. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Viola Beach's label issue statement, will donate single proceeds to band's family". NME. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  34. "Viola Beach: Remembering the Warrington band". BBC Newsbeat. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  35. "British Rock Band Viola Beach Reported Killed In Car Crash In Sweden". Huffington Post. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  36. "Liam Gallagher and Kasabian back bid to get Viola Beach to number one". ITV News. ITV. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  37. Copsey, Rob (15 February 2016). "Viola Beach are set to make their Official Chart Top 40 debut after the tragic death of the British band". The Official Chart. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  38. Khomami, Nadia (15 February 2016). "Viola Beach enter Top 40 chart as fans mourn after fatal car crash". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  39. Bley Griffiths, Eleanor (18 February 2016). "Tragic band Viola Beach hit number one on iTunes as fans honour group killed in car crash". Daily Record. Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd. Retrieved 18 February 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |newspaper= (help)
  40. "Blossoms will play Viola Beach session recording at their gigs". BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat. BBC. 18 February 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  41. Blake, Jimmy (3 April 2016). "Viola Beach: The perfect way to say goodbye". BBC Newsbeat. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  42. Renshaw, David (3 April 2016). "The Coral and Courteeners pay tribute to Viola Beach at celebratory Warrington gig". NME. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  43. 43.0 43.1 Nicolson, Barry (4 March 2016). "Remembering Viola Beach". NME. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  44. "Coldplay Pay Tribute To Viola Beach At Glastonbury". Radio X. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  45. 45.0 45.1 "Viola Beach". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  46. "Discography Viola Beach". Irish Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  47. 47.0 47.1 Peak positions in Scotland:

External links[]