Marcus Price obituary

Other lives: Owner of a famous menswear shop in Newcastle

My friend Marcus Price brought the ultimate in style to fashionistas on Tyneside for more than four decades. Such was the reputation of his eponymous menswear shop that many visiting celebrities, including Bryan Ferry and Bob Dylan, popped in to see what was on offer. Those who could not afford the clothes still loitered in the coolest shop in Newcastle, revelling in its modernity and Marcus’s bonhomie.

As well as being a pioneering businessman, Marcus was a social animal. His conversation ranged from art and music to football and food. He could talk to anyone about anything and voiced strong opinions about almost everything, right up until his death, at the age of 84.

He was born in Blyth, Northumberland. At the outbreak of the second world war, his father, Marcus, joined up, leaving his mother, Jessie (nee Hughes), to run their small clothing shop, and Marcus was sent to boarding school at Rock Lodge, near Alnwick, when he was only six, and later to Barnard Castle school.

In the holidays, he cycled along the coast to the arcades of Spanish City in Whitley Bay, where jukeboxes were belting out Lionel Hampton’s Central Avenue Breakdown. That was the start of his love of jazz.

He did two years’ national service in the Black Watch, which he said taught him: “If at first ye dinnae succeed, use the boot and then the heid.”

The family business moved to Newcastle and Marcus joined it in 1954. By the 1960s, he had transformed it into a top-end mod shop, selling the first American Levi jeans in the region, with a snazzy Marcus Price sign outside.

He had an unerring sense of which garments, scrupulously sourced from suppliers throughout Europe, would be coveted in the north-east. For years in Newcastle, designers such as Paul Smith, Ralph Lauren and Armani were stocked exclusively at Marcus Price.

Art and music were his passions. He lectured in jazz and helped run groundbreaking organisations – Spectro Arts Workshop, Northern Arts, the Dodgy Clutch theatre company – all facilitating collaborations between artists, musicians, writers and actors. A skilled artist, he embraced technology to experiment in painting and photography, with all the enthusiasm of a teenager.

He and his wife, Carolyn (nee Spears), whom he married in 1973, welcomed an eclectic mix of friends to their stylish home, overlooking the River Tyne, which was decorated with art that he had collected or painted himself.

He is survived by Carolyn, their children, Marcus and Hannah, and two children, Dorian and Amelia, from a previous marriage, and two grandchildren, Oliver and Abigail.

Sheilagh Matheson

The GuardianTramp

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