Geoff Mann (born Edmund Geoffrey Mann, on 11 April 1956), had arrived in Reading in September 1974, and would graduate in Fine Arts in 1978.
Fellow student Jane Mann (née Day) recalls “They were all doing different degrees and in different years. I was reading English and was a year behind Geoff but the same age as I had had a (then unfashionable) gap year. His was a four-year course though so we graduated together. I first came across Rev when he started going out with my best mate Sue and then discovered he was a guitar player.” Geoff and Jane married in September 1978, the year that Andy & Brian won the RUSU band competition, for which, in a curious twist of fate, she was a judge. Geoff had the first of many one-man painting and drawing exhibitions in Blackburn, Lancashire that Autumn, and the following summer, he and Jane appeared as contestants on the Anglia TV game show Gambit.
After a few false starts, Geoff finally joined Twelfth Night in August 1981 making his debut at the Reading Festival a few days later. He wrote and recorded three albums with the band, Smiling At Grief, Fact And Fiction, and Live And Let Live – the latter recorded live at the Marquee Club in London in November 1983 at his farewell shows. Just prior to that he performed with the band at the Reading Festival, and the year before appeared with them on the BBC TV programme, the ‘David Essex Showcase’ – singing East of Eden.
Geoff Mann performed 94 gigs with Twelfth Night between June and August 1979, and then between August 1981 and November 1983. He released his first solo album, the cassette Chants Would Be a Fine Thing, in March 1984, followed by the vinyl album I May Sing Grace in September 1984.
I May Sing Grace was the first of two albums released on Food for Thought, a sub-label of Music for Nations
During this period, Mann was involved for a few months in the band The Earthlings, which lasted for about five informal gigs. In July 1985, Geoff contributed to a cassette-only gospel musical album The Dawn, and played the lead character in the stage version. During August 1985, Geoff’s play A Convenient Day was performed in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe. Geoff’s third solo album Psalm Enchanted Evening released was released in February 1986 and Geoff formed The Geoff Mann Band, with Dave Mortimer and Steve Ridley quickly evolving into The Bond, who released two albums, Won By One (1987) and Peace Offering (1988). Mann began training for ordination into The Church of England in May 1987, and by 1989 he was ordained Deacon at Manchester Cathedral.
During the late 1980s Geoff kept producing music and collaborating with artists such as Marc Catley with whom he released two albums. The last concert by The Bond, at the new Marquee club in Charing Cross Road in January 1989 saw Brian Devoil sit in on drums.
In 1990 Geoff was ordained priest at Bolton Parish Church and started a new band project reuniting with Paul Keeble and Gary Mitchell along with John Maycraft called, for want of a better name, the Eh! Geoff Mann Band. Two albums were released, Loud Symbols (1990), the profits of which went to the newly formed Church Urban Fund, and Ministry of the Interior (1991). In 1992, Geoff also recorded an album with Clive Nolan of Pendragon, Arena, and Shadowland. The resultant album, Casino, included a guest appearance from Brian Devoil.
SI also offered Geoff a deal for a solo album and the album Second Chants was released in early 1992 and featured contributions from IQ’s Peter Nicholls. The two singers were also planning to record a joint album.
In September 1992 plans for a follow-up to Casino were called off after Geoff was diagnosed with what was though to be Crohn’s Disease. After a postponement of three weeks, due to hospital treatment, Geoff was inducted as vicar of St. Luke’s, Deepish, Rochdale on 22nd September. Soon after, histology showed he was, in fact suffering from cancer of the ileum, which appeared to be successfully treated. Geoff was able to conduct the Christmas services at his new church but at the end of January discovered his cancer was terminal. He died on 5th February 1993 at the age of 36, but not before he sold two of his CDs to his attending doctor, just hours before his death! Geoff left his widow, Jane, and their children Thomas, James and Bethany. His funeral was attended by hundreds of mourners, including the members of Twelfth Night.