IT was the sudden realisation that his luck could run out at any time that made Tommy Kennedy pen his life story.

The former Beamont Technical School student had survived a hedonistic lifestyle of class A drugs and a prison sentence in Jamaica’s notorious General Penitentiary.

But it was a fire at his flat in London that almost claimed his life and gave him pause for thought.

Two years ago, Tommy left an electric heater on as he slept.

It fell over with devastating consequences – destroying his property and leaving him in hospital for five days for treatment for smoke inhalation.

Tommy, who grew up in Liverpool Road, said: “I lost everything and it made me think about this story which I’ve been talking about for years and years. It gave me the spur to do it.

“I just thought: ‘If I don’t write it now, I’m never going to write it’. So I just got stuck into it.”

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As if highlighting the importance of doing things before it is too late, Tommy was recently back in hospital for life-saving triple heart bypass surgery when he should have been celebrating the release of ‘Nightmare in Jamaica’.

He added: “I ended up in hospital the day after the book came out so I’m just getting back on my feet.

“I’m good now. I’m up and about. I’m out on my bike and doing long walks. I’m lucky in my unluckiness. I see the funny side of life. Life is an adventure and that’s the way I look at it.”

Tommy’s rollercoaster life certainly has been, although it is an adventure not many of us would crave. Nightmare in Jamaica is the first – and darkest – book in a planned series of memoirs.

It chronicles Tommy’s life of crime in Warrington, even from a very young age, and how he ended up in prison in Jamaica for drug smuggling.

The 59-year-old is now working on his follow-up about how he became a reformed character.

Tommy said: “In the 70s, when I was a kid, I was never out of trouble.

“Until I was 22, I was being locked up continually and I thought: ‘If I don’t get out of Warrington I’m going to end up doing a life sentence here’ so that’s when I left.

“I got sent to Borstal for police assault. I also got involved with house burglaries and breaking into clubs and pubs and things like that.

“There was a lack of discipline at home and I went through a lot of madness. I don’t want to say too much about that now but it is in the book.”

Tommy worked in everything from bricklaying to music management when he left Warrington but he admitted his life of crime followed him.

He added: “I’d been travelling for around 20 years and I started putting on parties. That’s how I met a lot of musicians.

“Then when I went to London I set up a music management company but while that was going on I was meeting all kinds of people and getting involved in all kinds of things which ended up with me serving a prison sentence in Jamaica for smuggling drugs.”

He often feared for his life, witnessing many beatings and stabbings.

Tommy said: “It was a living nightmare. The prison had the highest murder rate in the Caribbean and it was a maximum-security jail so it was full of the high-profile ‘lifers’.

“I was there for three years but it felt like 300 years. One of the ‘celebrity’ prisoners in there was a guy called Dennis Lobban – Leppo.

“He murdered Peter Tosh who was part of Bob Marley and The Wailers.

“I played percussion in the prison band called The Bloom of Light and that’s how I got to meet everyone in there really.

“It was predominantly made up of lifers so it was an interesting experience to say the least but it helped me get through the sentence.”

After three terrifying years, Tommy – then aged 43 – returned to England and literally kissed the ground.

He turned his back on crime to pursue music again.

Tommy added: “When I left there I moved back to Notting Hill where I’d been living previously and I set up a music management company and things began to take off.

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“I worked for a company called Stage Miracles as well so I got to meet a lot of high-profile people like Madonna.”

He continued to keep an eye on home turf though which is how he met Burtonwood’s Slydigs at Warrington Music Festival 2013 before becoming their manager.

“They went on to bigger and better things which was good,” said Tommy.

“The Who’s management took them on which I was happy about.

“It was nice to manage a band from my hometown. Warrington bands often get overlooked with the town being between Manchester and Liverpool.

READ MORE > Slydigs sign management deal after performing at Warrington Music festival

“But there is a lot of talent there and I think something good is going to happen with The Ks.

“They’ve been took on by Alan McGee who put Oasis on the map so hopefully things are going to happen for them.

“I’ve also been putting on bands at Mau Mau in Notting Hill on and off for 14 years but my interest in music originally came from DJ Pete Rigby. Pete was famous in Warrington and I used to be a roadie for him when I was 14 or 15.

“He brought the Beatles to Warrington and took me all over the place to gigs.”

Nightmare in Jamaica is out now