Yankel Feather, one of the most exuberant gay characters of Liverpool’s 1960s art scene has died at age 88. Feather had been suffering from cancer for some time.
Like the legendary racehorse artist George Stubbs, Mr Feather was born in Toxeth’s Stanhope Street. During his lifetime he held down a colourful variety of jobs including, waiter, antique dealer, telephone operator, kitchen hand at the Adelphi and picture restorer to fund his passion for painting.
It was in the early 60s that Feather opened the infamous coffee bar and club called The Basement in Mount Pleasant. Decorated with ship’s beams, iron gates, Elizabethan chairs and African images, it was only a matter of time before the club became popular among those in the arts and beat scene. Regulars included John Lennon, who scratched one of Mr Feather’s paintings after being asked to stop bashing out Roll Over Beethoven on the club’s piano.
Warm tributes were paid last night with nephew, Paul Feather who owns the Feathers Hotel Group among them. He told the Liverpool Daily Post: “He was a very strong character – openly gay in the days when society was draconian about it – and always wanted to be an artist.
“He had such a varied life and was very fortunate to have the talent that was able to feed him for all these years.
“As a young lad I could never understand – I had this mad uncle artist. As I got older we became closer and he’d tell me about his and my father’s childhoods and how poor they were.
Academy of Arts’ June Lornie, who became close friends with the artist when he had an exhibition at the Seel Street gallery last year, told the newspaper: “I’m really going to miss him.
“He used to call once, often twice, a day – he was lovely and kind although he also didn’t suffer fools gladly.
“Although he had lived in London, Cornwall and then Brighton, he loved Liverpool and never stopped talking about it.
“He was one of the colourful characters of Liverpool. We won’t see his like again.” In his time Mr Feather counted among his friends Brian Epstein, The Beatles and Cilla Black.