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Gareth ‘Gruff’ Jones: 1950-2012

Fans and racers alike will miss Gruff's familiar figure, sitting by his trade stand at race meetings, rolling a cigarette and chatting about the sport and art that he loved and did so much to convey to the wider world.
By Barry Russell

The world of motorcycle racing lost one of its greatest and most revered artists when Gareth 'Gruff' Jones succumbed to grade four brain cancer on 6th March after a courageous three year battle with the disease.

Gruff's unique ability to bring excitement and insight to his canvasses came from his long racing career on short circuits and the roads and he competed throughout the eighties in the Manx Grand Prix races, taking a fine fifth place in the Newcomers Manx Race.

He began painting in the mid-1980s and focused on being an artist after breaking both of his ankles in a crash on a friend's motorcycle on the Isle of Man Mountain Course in 1988 and being confined to a wheelchair.

Having established himself as one of the sport's great artists he built a successful business, with his work being sort after and collected by legions of fans and top racers including Joey Dunlop, Valentino Rossi, Steve Hislop, Troy Bayliss, John McGuinness, James Toseland, Michael Rutter and many more.

His friends knew him as a realist with an encyclopedic knowledge about the history of motorcycle racing and a wicked sense of humour. This made him a raconteur who could entertain his friends with tales of races of past times and the often hilarious stories that ran alongside them.

Photographer Glynne Lewis, who worked closely with Gruff, recalled, “His feathers rarely got ruffled but when they did it was time to take a step backwards. On the odd occasion he did lose his temper, it would not be long before this likeable man would be handing over a piece of his artwork that you would have purchased from him.

“Gruff was extremely proud when John McGuinness handed Gruff one of his own medals at a past NEC motorcycle exhibition, such was the inherent humility and nature of this hugely popular character.”

Fans and racers alike will miss Gruff's familiar figure, sitting by his trade stand at British Superbike, World Superbike or MotoGP meetings in the UK, rolling a cigarette and chatting about the sport and art that he loved and did so much to convey to the wider world.

Our thoughts are with Gruff's wife Hollie, daughter Carolyne, son Richard and his many close friends and family.

Gruff's funeral will take place on Friday 16th March at 2pm at Pentrebychan Crematorium, Wrexham Clwyd, North Wales LL14 4EP.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Gareth ‘Gruff’ Jones 1950 – 2012
Stephen McIlvenna at the Manx Grand Prix
Guy Martin celebrates his Dundrod 150 Superbike win with the Tyco Suzuki team
Guy Martin on the Tyco Suzuki at the Ulster Grand Prix
Tyco Suzuki`s Guy Martin at the Ulster Grand Prix
Michael Dunlop at the Ulster Grand Prix on the BMW Motorrad S1000RR
Manx rider Dan Kneen
Robert Dunlop on the Norton Rotary at the Isle of Man TT in 1990
Peter Hickman on the Ice Valley BMW
James Hillier in the Senior race at the Isle of Man TT
Guy Martin in the Senior TT
John McGuinness on the Honda Fireblade in the Senior race at the Isle of Man TT
Dean Harrison on his way to victory in the Lightweight TT
Michael Dunlop on the BMW Motorrad S1000RR in the Senior TT
Michael Dunlop, Conor Cummins and Guy Martin on the Senior TT podium
William Dunlop on the Tyco Suzuki Supersport machine at the Isle of Man TT
John McGuinness on the Valvoline Padgetts Honda in the Superstock race at the Isle of Man TT
Michael Dunlop lines up at the start of the second Supersport TT race

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Glynne Lewis - Unregistered

March 11, 2012 3:23 PM

It was one of lifes pleasures to have known Gruff a great artist and one of the personalities of the paddock and trade stands,you would often find him sat outside of his stand rolling a ciggarette and conversing with riders and fans alike. I could fill a book on memories of Gruff special times of sharing a tea bag and talking bikes and nothing but. Its a pleasure to have some of his great works hanging on my walls,loved by many riders he will be terribly missed,his interpretation on canvas or in print is a pleasure to behold. You will never be forgotten Gruff you are now free of pain god bless you.

mark hanna - Unregistered

March 12, 2012 10:10 AM

Very very sad news to hear that news, He was a absolute legend,lovely guy, always happy and cheerful ,and what a lovely family. He was a fantastic artist his work will live on in his memory . Will be very sadly missed. Mark Hanna



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