Tributes paid to Shirlie, 66, who enjoyed a rock and roll career

Marriage of Shirlie Stone and Keith Dufton
Marriage of Shirlie Stone and Keith Dufton

A much-loved woman who was at the forefront of the Rotunda Museum’s multi-million pound redevelopment has died at the age of 66.

Shirlie Stone, who was diagnosed with cancer in May, passed away last week in St Catherine’s Hospice.

She had married her partner of 25 years, Keith Dufton, at Scarborough Register Office on July 5 - just 13 days before she died.

Originally from Glasgow, Shirlie enjoyed a remarkable career in the music industry and the arts, travelling the world and working with the likes of The Who, Black Sabbath and Status Quo.

She was first introduced into marketing when she joined the Glasgow Citizen Theatre as publicity manager.

Shirlie went on to work for the Derby Playhouse, then moved to Manchester and joined Granada TV as general manager of the Stables Theatre Club.

Keith was also working for Granada at that time, and although they moved in the same circles, their paths did not cross until later.

Looking for a new challenge, Shirlie moved to London and secured the role of senior press officer at Phonogram Records, with responsibility for looking after the progressive rock label Vertigo.

Before long, Shirlie was working with bands such as Thin Lizzy and 10CC and touring the world. She later worked for RCA records and later Polydor, looking after the back catalogues of the late Elvis Presley and Jim Reeves, and worked closely with the likes of Bucks Fizz, Dolly Parton and The Eurythmics.

It was an amazing time in Shirlie’s life, but the experiences were not all pleasant. When she was on tour in Italy with a band called PFM, they were meant to be playing at a fifth century castle,

However, the Mafia arrived and didn’t like what they were doing, so they held them at gunpoint with sawn-off shotguns.

Shirlie also faced a difficult time when she set up her own record label, which went into liquidation as one creditor would not wait another week until a big deal - which would have saved the business - was signed.

Keith explained: “She lost everything and was left virtually with the clothes she stood in and a few pounds left in her purse.

“So what did she do with the meagre funds that were all that was left from 20 years of hard work? She went for tea at the Ritz. That was style, that was chutzpah, that was Shirlie.”

After working as a temp and paying off every penny she owed, Shirlie moved up north and started work running an arts marketing company in Newcastle.

It was at this time in her life she met Keith, on a wet Sunday afternoon in Whitley Bay, while she was staying at a friend’s house.

Keith explained: “She cooked me a wonderful meal, then I took her for a few drinks and within eight hours of that fateful meeting we were living together.”

He added that for the next 25 years, Shirlie went on to illuminate his life and those of other around her, adding: “Now that light has been extinguished, the world is a far less bright place. Shirlie was unique.”