Monday, 27 February 2017

OBITUARY: Peter 'Greblord' Armstrong

It is with a very heavy heart that I must announce the passing today of Pete Armstrong known to many in the hobby and on the net as 'Greblord'.

Pete had been seriously ill for several weeks and passed away today in hospital, leaving behind his wife Gilly and three young daughters.

Pete was one of the first people I met when I got into fantasy gaming, when Games Workshop opened it's doors in Sheffield in the early 1980s.

He was also the first GW figure painter and wrote the painting guide which appeared in the early Citadel and RAFM catalogues. He was an innovator back when the standard paint job was a simple block finish in enamels, and he was the inspiration for many of my generation.

I emulated his style and made his life a living hell sometimes both in and out of Games Workshop. To get a grudging affirmative grunt from Pete when you showed him a figure, was high praise indeed.

I lost contact with Pete in the late 80s and the next time I saw him, I was the owner of Dungeons & Starships, when he walked through the door on a visit to his family in Sheffield. I never told him, but seeing him, seeing me owning a store which was greatly influenced by the old GW, meant a lot.

I would be a hypocrite if I said I always got on with Pete, because I didn't. We were abrasive with each other at times, because he was not the same egomaniac twenty-something and I was not that awe-struck teenager, and I don't think either of us adjusted too well for a while.

That said, this is the third loss in just over two months to have struck the 'Old Guard' of the Sheffield gaming scene and all have passed at ludicrously young ages.

What's more a genuine hobby pioneer has been lost, and should be celebrated and mourned accordingly.

As befits Pete's renowned sense of humour, I'd like to leave you with a an excerpt from my 2011 book, which illustrates just how mad he could be.



'Sheffield used to have 3 main city centre cinemas, The ABC, and Gaumont were ‘respectable’ cinemas, but then there was Studio 5-6-7 a rundown pit even in the 70s and had only opened in 1968. The latter of the 3 specialised in porn films and the odd X rated splatter movie. By the time I was old enough to go there and sample the flea-ridden pleasures of the place it had gone the way of many of these old ‘bug pits’.

But, it was at the Gaumont that I spent the best part of an entire day watching all three - there were only three back then - Star Wars films back to back. It was I recall a Thursday in Summer and I had gone as part of a gang including Pete, and sundry other ‘gentlemen of the twilight’ all carrying 2 litre bottles of Quattro – the carbonated beverage of choice that year – and a bucket of weapons grade popcorn each.

I had dressed for the event, wearing a white cotton shirt with a mesh overlay on the shoulders. It was all very fashionable for the time – honestly – and had two vent pockets that ran vertically down each breast. This meant that I arm myself with my hairbrush and sundry other items that allowed me to keep my rapidly growing hair in tip-top condition.

We sat in two rows and I had the dubious pleasure of listening to Pete - who was sitting directly behind me - recite verbatim, the entire dialogue of the first two films. 

As credits ran for the 2nd of the trilogy, Pete leaned forward and whispered in my ear, ‘Either you’ve got really big dandruff, or a f***ing great parrot’s crapped on your shoulders.’

Somewhat bemused, I craned to see what he was blabbering on about, patting gingerly at my shoulders and back. My hand touched row upon row of toffee- coated popcorn and discovered that my shirt had gained a layers of comestible rhinestones. Pete had managed to meticulously stick individual kernels to me as I sat watching the screen. I was once again the butt of a masterfully orchestrated wheeze.

Later as we stepped out into the late night air I bounced my empty Quattro bottle off the back of Petess head as he walked out of the cinema. It was a petty revenge, but revenge nonetheless and it felt soooo good to have had the chance to exact it.'


Rest in peace Pete. You will be missed by many, forgotten by none.

1 comment:

  1. I was just talking to my work colleagues about my first real job I had, so I typed "Pete Armstrong Games Workshop" into the Web and found this site. Sad news, a damn shame.

    I was 16 or 17 back in 1988 or so when I got a Saturday job working with Pete at Games Workshop, 1 Dalling Road, Hammersmith, London.
    This was my initiation into the world of work.
    There were of course the usual shop duties of hanging the blister-packs of Citadel Miniatures up onto the hangers, the boxed games - like Space Hulk & Bloodbowl onto the shelves, and serving the bikers, nerds, heavy-metallers, goths, and kids (I also fitted into most of these categories at the time). But Pete was the manager.
    We spent a lot of time sitting at the gaming table in the middle of the shop floor painting an orc, Space Marine, snotling, Eldar, Space Dwarf, or Space Orc Dreadnought etc, drinking cans of fizzy drinks, eating chocolate bars, crisps, and chips that we'd send the regular customer kids round the corner to get for us. Pete taught me drybrushing & the shading painting techniques. I loved sitting there, painting, having a laugh, with heavy metal compilation, Gentle Giant (one of Pete's fave bands if I remember correctly), or Derek & Clive cassette tapes playing on the shop stereo.

    Occasionally we'd shut the shop for lunch, go over to the Hampshire Hog, have a pint or two, and then, back at the shop, the fun would go up a few levels. "Olympics" - we'd stack game boxes up to make a hurdle in the isle between the shelves, and take turns to jump it. It wasn't long before the "athlete" and the game boxes went flying. Sometimes customers joined in, hehe.

    Then there were the fart tapes. The preparation work would usually be done at closing time, the day or week before. Take a C90 cassette tape, and record dead air with intermittent farts (mostly blowing raspberries into your hand, sometimes real). Come the day of execution, we'd play the tape. Customers browsing round the shop would hear the faint hiss of dead air coming from the speakers, then suddenly a big wet bum-trumpet, or maybe a near-inaudible but 20 second-long gusty hummer. We always had a great laugh making those tapes, but it was even better playing them. Difficult to keep a straight face when talking to a customer, knowing that at any second a dirty noise could come bellowing out of the speakers, haha.

    On one occasion Pete spent a good amount of time painting over the logo of a Jiff spray cleaner bottle so it said "Jizz". If I remember correctly I made a can of Coke into "Cock".

    It was great to work with Pete at Games Workshop for that year or two back in the late 1980s, he was really good at painting, and always up for a laugh or some kind of mischief. I remember once, Brian May (Queen guitarist) came in with his son who was into painting fantasy figures. I was at the till, & took my white basketball boot (Thrash metaller essential footwear) off, handed it to Brian & got him to autograph it.
    Anyway, unfortunately I lost contact with Pete not long after I was transferred to the Oxford Street Plaza branch, and - I can't remember exactly now but I think - Pete may have been also relocated or even sacked.

    Rest in peace, Sir Greblord

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