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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
Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki in the Senior TT.
Peter Hickman in the Senior TT on the Smiths BMW.
Guy Martin on the Honda Racing Superbike.
Jochem van den Hoek.
Dan Kneen celebrates with his team after sealing his maiden Isle of Man TT rostrum in the Superstock race.
Ian Hutchinson celebrates his Superstock victory.
Ian Hutchinson on his way to victory in the Superstock TT on the Tyco BMW.
Davey Lambert in the RST Superbike race.
A Sidecar narrowly missed spectators in an incident that was captured in a video posted on YouTube.
James Hillier on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki in the opening Supersport TT race.
Michael Dunlop on his Yamaha in the Supersport TT.
Peter Hickman claimed his maiden podium at the Isle of Man TT with a runner-up finish in the RST Superbike race.
Michael Dunlop at the start of the RST Superbike race on the Bennetts Suzuki.
Ian Hutchinson celebrates his victory in the RST Superbike race at the Isle of Man TT.
William Dunlop on the IC Racing Yamaha at the Isle of Man TT.
Lee Johnston on the Padgetts Honda Supersport machine a the Isle of Man TT.
Bruce Anstey on the Padgett`s Honda RC213V-S during Isle of Man TT practice.

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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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