Musical tribute to be paid at funeral of popular South Shields pub boss

Bob Overton with Joe Cocker
Bob Overton with Joe Cocker

A popular publican is to be fondly remembered at his funeral in South Tyneside through the music of the rock star he befriended.

The family of Bob Overton, who owned the Rose and Crown at Holborn, South Shields, say Joe Cocker’s famous song You Are So Beautiful will play at the start of the service.

Bob Overton pictured with Debbie Harry

Bob Overton pictured with Debbie Harry

The words of the title hold special poignancy for them, as Cocker wrote them on a poster which he gave to Bob and was treasured.

They became firm friends after being introduced by borough musician John Myles – and stayed in touch.

Bob, 68, who owned the Rose and Crown – known to locals as the Rosie – from 1983, died in South Tyneside District Hospital on February 22.

He had been admitted for tests two weeks earlier, shortly after being told the prostate cancer he was diagnosed with in 2015 had spread.

Bob Overton pictured with Roger Daltrey

Bob Overton pictured with Roger Daltrey

His sister, Pat Johnston, 62, said Sheffield-born Cocker, who died in 2014, was among the famous musicians Bob met through is long friendship with Myles.

She said: “John Myles would play with Tina Turner and Joe Cocker, and Robert would go with him.

“It became a standing joke that we would say ‘who’s that with Bob?’ when we saw a photo of him with someone famous.

“He became a very good friend of Joe’s and would fax him the football pools or the results if he was away, wherever he was.

Bob Overton with James Brown

Bob Overton with James Brown

“Joe signed a poster with the words ‘You are so beautiful’, which Bob kept in his home above the pub. The song will play at the start of the funeral.”

Bob, who married twice but had no children, bought the Rose and Crown with a friend in November 1983.

At the time it was especially popular with workers from industries on the bustling nearby River Tyne.

At first, Bob also worked as a manager with Pratts wine merchants, which operated in South Shields.

Bob Overton with Kevin Keegan

Bob Overton with Kevin Keegan

But after about five years, when his business partner decided to leave the pub, he took on its running full-time.

He was delighted at later becoming a member of the Champagne Academy, which works to foster appreciation of the drink.

But one of his proudest achievements was to be made godfather to five children of staff who have worked at the pub.

Added Pat, a retired bank officer who now lives in Dunedin, New Zealand: “Robert was very popular, very generous, very reliable and an all-out good bloke - people could go to him about anything.

“He was proud to have been a godfather to five children – his staff loved him like a father figure. He loved the pub and its people.

“Robert was having treatment for prostate cancer and we thought he would just go on and on.

“At one point he was thinking of selling the pub and retiring and moving to New Zealand, but his illness meant that never happened.”

Pat, who worked as manageress at the pub during Bob’s early ownership, said it was likely the business would be sold.

Bob’s funeral is at South Shields Crematorium at 2.45pm on Monday, March 19.