Pete Long obituary

Other lives: Maths teacher who became an authority on musicians including Neil Young and Jackson Browne

My friend Pete Long, who has died aged 71 of pancreatic cancer, was a music archivist and a teacher. Pete’s writing, research and personal archive led him to become a respected authority on artists including Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Jackson Browne and Richard Thompson, as well as for his work on Neil Young’s archive releases.

Born in Barking, east London, Pete was the elder child of Jack Long, an electrical engineer, and Bernadette (nee O’Connor), a bookkeeper. He attended Barking Abbey school before gaining a mathematics degree at the University of Nottingham. He often returned to the school during breaks from his studies to teach PE before returning on a permanent basis as a maths teacher.

Pete was to remain at Barking Abbey for his entire 30-plus-year career, teaching maths to generations of often-reluctant suburban east London students (including Billy Bragg, who, as a former pupil, would send Pete posters to put up around the school to promote his early gigs). Alongside his teaching career, he found time to indulge his fascination with the US, visiting often, travelling extensively, making great friends there, and buying many records.

Pete chose a typically idiosyncratic approach to analysing – and appreciating – music. This was particularly evident in his self-published book, Ghosts on the Road (2007), in which, through meticulous research, he documented every live Neil Young performance from 1961 to 2006 – the venues played, songs performed and accompanying musicians – to create a unique perspective on Neil’s life and work.

Having established himself as an expert on all things Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Pete developed a great relationship and friendship with the photographer and musician Joel Bernstein. This led to Pete becoming part of the team Neil surrounded himself with for his archive releases. He also worked with Joel on Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young projects, including the 1974 concert series box set, receiving a Grammy nomination in the process. Graham Nash looked to them similarly on his solo reissue releases.

A fine sportsman, Pete played cricket for Wanstead CC in the Essex League. He played with and against many excellent club cricketers, some of whom went on to first-class and even Test careers. In winter, Pete suffered (occasional) highs and (frequent) lows as a season-ticket holder at West Ham United.

Pete’s life was immeasurably enriched when he met a young pharmacy graduate, Caroline Brenton, at Nottingham in 1981. They had many happy years together, going on to have two children, and the family left east London for Winchester in 2000. Caroline died tragically in a fire when visiting Paris in 2007. A kind and gentle man, Pete was capable of righteous anger when confronted by injustice.

He is survived by his children, Hannah and Jack, and his sister, Alison.

John Soane

The GuardianTramp

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