TRIBUTES have been paid to a well-known businessman and former band manager who ran a string of garages in the Black Country and who built his own music club by hand.

John Mitchell died last month, aged 72, after a determined four-year battle against stomach cancer.

His daughter Sally Mitchell told the News: “Everybody knew him and he knew everybody. He had so much involvement in so many people’s lives.”

Mr Mitchell ran Queensway Car Sales from Loverock House in Brettell Lane, Brierley Hill, after first starting his own motor car sales firm in Birmingham in 1972.

He started the business after a three-year spell working for Newbury Motors – and in 1975 he moved the firm to Halesowen before opening premises in Brettell Lane and Brierley Hill Road.

It was in Brettell Lane that he decided to build his own music club – which opened as The Shed in the late 1990s.

Sally said: “He built The Shed by hand at the back of the car lot.

“All the old bands played there, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd; and before they became famous Atomic Kitten approached him to play at The Shed and he turned them down.”

Johnny Mitchell, as he was known, also managed Black Country bands including The Stinkin’ Fish and Ragged Glory.

Sally said: “He was always into music. As kids we were brought up on Queen, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and John Denver. He was also an amazing singer and was a member of Stourbridge Pantomime Company and Stourbridge Amateur Operatic Society and he got myself and my sisters Emma and Katie into the shows.”

Edgbaston-born Mr Mitchell, who lived in Stourbridge for many years before moving to Romsley, played the lead role in the operatic society’s production of The King and I some years back and Sally recalls: “He was outstanding.”

Good friend Terry Gormley, also a member of the operatic society, said: “John was just the most talented of thespians that I’ve ever come across. I’ll never forget the role he played in The King and I. He was as good as Yul Brynner – he was absolutely outstanding. “Everything he did was fantastic. He was a great talent and a great friend.”

Mr Mitchell also ran a recording studio in Enville Street in Stourbridge, known as The Fridge, with Mr Gormley back in the early 1990s before he went on to build The Shed which became a stomping ground for Black Country bands.

Stourbridge musician Ian Grove, whose band Ragged Glory was managed by Mr Mitchell back in the 1990s, said: “He was a very cheerful guy. Five minutes in John Mitchell’s presence was a bit like swimming with dolphins.”

Ian, now bass player in The Festivals Experience, added: “He had a stunning resemblance to Tommy Steele and the showmanship of Tommy Steele.”

After building The Shed “pretty much with his bare hands” according to Ian – Mr Mitchell made building his vocation for the last 20 years but he was forced to give up work after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Daughter Sally said: “About four years ago he was told he had six months to live but dad being dad he fought it every step of the way.”

But he finally lost his fight for life on February 16 at Mary Stevens Hospice in Stourbridge.

The family say he received “fantastic” care at the Hagley Road hospice and they have asked for donations, in lieu of flowers, to go to the Hagley Road charity.

Donations can be made via H Porter & Sons funeral directors in South Road, Stourbridge, or at the funeral which will be held at Stourbridge Crematorium on Monday March 12 at 2.10pm.

Mr Mitchell is survived by his sister Joan Clarke – and his three daughters Sally, Emma and Katie, plus grandchildren – George, aged 12, Neve, aged nine, Isla, aged six, and Nell, aged four.