SINGER songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan came home for Christmas and met up with a couple of old friends thanks to a series of coincidences.

Gilbert, known as Ray O’Sullivan to friends and family, shot to fame with hits such as Alone Again, Clair and Get Down.

This week he met up with former band mates Malcolm Mabbett and Keith Ray after more than 50 years.

Malcolm’s wife Christine spotted an article in the Swindon Advertiser a few months ago when the singer visited Swindon College and, as it was Malcolm’s 70th birthday, she secretly called the Adver to see if we could put the musicians back in touch.

We called Gilbert’s sister, Marie, who was struck by the coincidence, as her brother, had recently also expressed a wish to meet up with former members of his Swindon bands.

A week later Keith Ray, bass player with the same band, also got in touch with the Adver as he had just recorded his first album after all these years.

The get-together was arranged at Gilbert’s mum’s home in Marlborough Road.

Guitarist Malcolm said: “He is a very charming person, no airs and graces. We sat testing each other’s memories.”

Malcolm remembered Gilbert’s mum ordering their blue band jackets from her Freeman’s catalogue all those years ago.

Keith said: “It was an enjoyable afternoon. He is a likeable guy, a bit more outgoing than I remember.”

The fourth member of their band, Rick’s Blues, was Rick Davies, who went on to be the founder of prog rock giants Supertramp.

Rick composed some of their most well-known songs, including Goodbye Stranger, My Kind of Lady and Cannonball.

Sadly Rick was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last year and had to cancel the band’s 2015 tour, but there are plans for all four to have a band reunion when he is better.

Rick’s Blues was formed in 1964.

“We first met in a small attic room above Rick’s mother’s hairdressing business which was to become our rehearsal room, said Malcolm.

“I can still see Ray [Gilbert] standing in the doorway on the day Rick introduced us. He was huddled up in his duffle coat, a shy little chap.’’

Gilbert went on to notch up 16 top 40 records, the first of which was 1970’s Nothing Rhymed.

Last year he toured Ireland with his Peggy Lee-inspired new album Latin Ala G! and has a 2017 UK tour planned.

When they left the reunion he gave the Swindon musicians a remastered signed disc of a Rick’s Blues single, which said ‘From your drummer’, a copy of his own Gilbert O’Sullivan Essential collection and an invitation to Jersey.

Malcolm’s children, Stuart and Claire, named after Gilbert’s hit song, had bought tickets to see Gilbert O’Sullivan at Cheltenham Town Hall, for their dad as a present, so Ray signed the tickets and invited them both to his sound check and back stage after the show along with free tickets for Keith.