It is with great sadness that Top City must inform its fans and friends of the passing of one its top Cityzens. Steve Hannah, keyboards and background vocals, died on the evening of Monday June 24 from complications arising from aggressive treatment for bacterial meningitis, which took hold of Steve four weeks earlier.
Casual observers of Top City will know Steve as a talented keyboard player, weaving a colourful fabric of harmony and dynamic rhythm in support of vocalists or other soloists, and also as an inventive soloist himself.
But his contribution to Top City went far beyond his instrumental and vocal skills. As a founding member of Top City, over the band’s 30-year history Steve acted as the chief arranger for Top City, either transposing or arranging 150 of the 170 tunes in the Top City songbook. As such, Steve was the key architect of Top City’s signature sound. His style featured powerful horn arrangements that accessed the doubling skills of the musicians in the section to generate a rich timbral palette. His rhythm section arrangements were perfectly complimentary to each tune since Steve was equally comfortable in any style, be it R&B, soul, funk, pop – even a dash of disco in a couple of recent arrangements.
His remarkable ability to hear the smallest detail in the music made Steve a treasured leader in the rehearsal room. Never one to shy away from volunteering constructive (and sometimes colourful) criticism, Steve expected the band to perform to a higher standard at every rehearsal. He may approach your transgression with a hearty laugh or his trademark furrowed brow, but either way you knew it was always about the music, never the musician. Because of his perfectionist leaning, and outstanding instincts for what worked, Top City has always been on the path of continuous improvement.
When audiences respond to Top City’s music, they are in large part influenced by the talent that one man brought to that music through arranging, musical direction and, of course, performance. We were all shocked by the news of Steve’s untimely passing. But fortunately Steve created a magnificent legacy that has become ingrained in Top City’s DNA. It’s a legacy as large and generous as the personality that created it - a talented musician who inspired all he worked with, a true friend to those privileged to know him.
We will miss you Steve. Thank you for the bequest of your music.