Tributes to York music pioneer

York Press: Tony Kostrzewa, who has died of cancer Tony Kostrzewa, who has died of cancer

TONY Kostrzewa always loved music, and he kept listening when he could through a long and cruel illness.

At home or in hospital, where a consultant castigated Tony for dancing around to his music, there was always music.

Tony, who has died, aged 58, was a pioneer of the independent record industry, fronting up the now-defunct York-based Red Rhino Records.

To record buyers, this was a small independent record shop situated first in Gillygate and later in Goodramgate. Behind the shop-front lay a record label and a distribution business, the latter run from a warehouse in Eldon Street.

Red Rhino was a force to be reckoned with in its day, which sadly ended in financial collapse. Pulp recorded their first album for Red Rhino, and other bands recorded by the label included The Mekons, and Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry.

Tony was born in Bradford on October 18, 1949, the son of a Polish immigrant (demobbed from Polish Free Army) and a Yorkshire woman. His ancestry caused him to be refused entry to the RAF in 1966, due to having a Polish father.

Advised to "join a bank", Tony lasted nine months as a trainee manager then left for London. Various jobs followed, none stuck, and he failed to find his fortune, but did find the love of his life, Gerri.

Tony founded Red Rhino Records in York in 1977, and his music days saw him work with bands including Sisters Of Mercy, Wedding Present, Chumbawamba and March Violets.

During his time in York with Gerri, and their two children, Alice and Ben, the family lived in Huntington Road. Their house was a focal point for friendship and laughter.

After the collapse of Red Rhino, Tony - known as Tony K, to get around people's problems pronouncing his Polish surname - and his family moved to Leeds, where for a while he ran a laser-tag game business.

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He also imported Americana music via the Fundamental label, which said on hearing of his death last Thursday: "Tony was a great lover of music and life - was instrumental in bringing great American artists over to Europe and generally an all round wonderful man to be with."

Tony was also a speaker and music industry business consultant, advising music labels and lecturing students on the business.

His interests were described as good wine, France, Neil Young, lively company and football.

Donations in Tony's memory can be made to the Yorkshire Cancer Centre via www.justgiving.com/gerrikostrzewa

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