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Tributes

This post continues from the Tributes article published in The Musician Summer 2018. It features full tributes for musicians Morfen Edwards, Colin Larn, Tommy Ford, Pete Warner, Skip Humphries, Ian Cameron and John Welch.

This post continues from the Tributes article published in The Musician Summer 2018. It features full tributes for musicians Morfen Edwards, Colin Larn, Tommy Ford, Pete Warner, Skip Humphries, Ian Cameron and John Welch.

The Tributes article published in The Musician covers full tributes for Martyn Davies, Alf Reece, Jonny Walker, Stan Bourke, Pete May, Robert ‘Bob’ Simans, Edward ‘Ted’ Barker and Desmond Heath.

Morfen Edwards

From 1959 until 1963 Morfen was a student at the Royal Manchester College of Music, learning with Jean Bell. In 1963 she gained the position of second harp in the Halle Orchestra, working with her esteemed teacher. There she felt herself lucky to make music with Sir John Barbirolli, a conductor for whom she had the greatest respect.

At this time she did a lot of work for Granada Television , with the BBC Northern Orchestra and with the Manchester Mozart Players. However, in 1971 she was invited to become Principal Harpist with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra where she remained for 20 years. Later, she taught the harp and freelanced with various London Orchestras.

Morfen never forgot her Welsh legacy. She had begun learning to play the harp in North Wales where she ultimately achieved the accolade of the Green and Blue Robes at the National Eisteddfod.

She was a musician who made an especially beautiful sound, she was also an intelligent woman who studied with the Open University and attained a B.A.(Hons) Arts degree.

We will miss Morfen for her ready wit and loyal friendships. Morfen died in Rhosllannerchrugog on February 22nd, 2018.

Courtesy of Patricia Morris

Colin Larn

After earning a BSc degree from Salford University, Colin's parents wanted him to pursue a career in science. Not Colin though, he wanted to be a pro musician.

Colin started his professional career as a musician with drumming gigs all around Manchester. He also studied classical guitar from an early age which he continued throughout his life.

He became a well-known drummer and session musician in Manchester in the 1970s/80s. He worked at the famous Playboy Club with the Derek Hilton trio (piano) alongside Dave Lynane (bass).

Colin worked with many top cabaret artists and jazz musicians as well as undertaking several cruises with various bands. He even single-handedly built a recording studio in the cellar of his house. All the leading bands and singers in Manchester recorded there.

He completed tours playing for The Platters and Brotherhood of Man and a tour of South Africa in Cliff Richard's backing band.

When he left Manchester in the 1990's he moved to Bournemouth with his partner Karen, where he worked as a musician-singer/entertainer known as Colin Lan the Music Man.

His last gig was as the resident drummer with 'The Pedigree Jazz Band' up until the time of his passing.

Colin sadly died on 21 January 2018, aged 66, after a diagnosis of cancer.

Colin had a wicked sense of humour, was often mischievous and a real prankster.

He will be sadly missed by his partner of 47 years Karen and all his many friends and colleagues from the music world.

Courtesy of John Cheetham

Tommy Ford

25 November 1931 - 23 December 2017

Tommy was born in the 'Auld Toon' Stirling and went to school locally.

During his schooling, he delivered newspapers and the money he earned went towards funding his accordion lessons.

After leaving school, he trained and worked as a a tractor mechanic. He then saw National service with R.E.M.E. in Egypt (Tell-Al- Kabir) where he put a 'box' together and played for Scottish Country dances and tea dances in the Officers' Mess.

On his return from Egypt, he was asked to join Jim MacLeod and his band at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel where he performed his first broadcast with the band for BBC Scotland in 1954 for the show, 'Down at the Mains.’ He played further broadcasts with the band including, for many years, the Radio Two Ballroom.

He loved touring, radio, stage work, recording LPs,CDs, entertaining on the cruise liner Canberra, and playing for over twenty-five years for Her Majesty the Queen at Balmoral Castle.

His heart, however, was always in the Dunblane Hydro. He was unique in owning two Ranko Antonio V Voice piano accordions, on which he composed numerous melodies for the band. He remained an admirer of many Scottish Dance bands, but his favourite was Toralf Tollefson.

Tommy was a quite unassuming and loyal musician, admired by many for his excellent musicianship and varied playing styles (Scottish, modern and continental).

Tommy was a member of the Musicians' Union throughout his playing career which spanned over fifty years and his favourite saying was "Keep music live."

I was also a member of the Jim MacLeod band from 1974 to 2004 when Jim died and the band finished. I knew Tommy well and it was always a pleasure to share a band stand with him.

Courtesy of John Sinton

Pete Warner

1927 – 2018

Born in Coventry, Pete was raised in a musical household and was given his first clarinet at the age of 16. After doing his National Service in the RAF and switching to tenor sax, in 1948 he returned to Coventry to join the band of George Rowe.

In 1950 he was invited to join Teddy Fosters Band and this led to almost six decades of working as a featured soloist with some of Britain's finest swing and dance bands of the post-war era. (Vic Lewis, Oscar Rabin, Basil Kirchin, The Courtley-Seymour Band, Ken Mackintosh, Johnny Dankworth, Eric Delaney, Cyril Stapleton, Joe Loss and George Bradley, to name just a few).

In 1974 he joined the BBC Radio Orchestra on first tenor and was a featured soloist for the likes of guest conductors Robert Farnon, Billy May, and Nelson Riddle. Some of Pete's outstanding work including his soloing with the BBC strings, showcasing his beautiful full tone for which he was renowned.

In 1987 he took his retirement from the BBC. After a spell with Glenn Miller UK, he spent several years playing with Don Lusher and Ted Heath and finally with the Freddie Staff Orchestra.

Pete's sharp wit and humour will be missed by his family and colleagues. He is survived by his wife Margaret, two daughters and five grandchildren.

Courtesy of Dave Willis

Skip Humphries

1931-2018

Skip was well-known to London session musicians over the twenty-six years he worked in television.

Born to hoteliers in Brisbane, Australia, he got the jazz bug after attending the 2nd Australian Jazz Convention in Melbourne and resolved to devote his life to music.

He first persuaded his parents to build onto The Story Bridge Hotel (arguably) the first jazz room in Brisbane. Named 'Storyville', this began an ambitious 4-nights-a-week jazz cabaret in 1954. He learned drums from noted drummer Len Barnard, and later studied percussion at the Queensland Conservatorium under the QSO’s principal percussionist Ralph Benfell. The Skip Humphries’ Band became well-known in the ABC’s weekly jazz programmes, local jazz venues, and even for the Government House reception for Princess Alexandra in 1958.

From 1960 to 1964 he worked for the ABC in Papua/New Guinea as a Record Librarian, producing recorded music programmes for radio.

In 1964 he undertook a 17-week extended tour of Asia and Europe, settling in London with Di, his second wife.

Rediffusion TV was his first appointment, where me met Max Harris & Don Harper who became lifelong friends.

With the new ITV Franchises in 1968, he joined London Weekend TV - the arts and music flagship for the network - under renowned conductor Harry Rabinowitz, and replaced Harry as Head of Music Services on Harry’s retirement in 1976.

Skip was a lifelong member of the MU in Australia and the UK, and was a champion of live music. His responsibilities at LWT, in particular, were to enforce the MU/ITV agreements, which at times set him in conflict with producers and directors who tried (unsuccessfully) to avoid the restrictions of the agreements.

He also produced many of the soundtracks of programmes for which he had commissioned special music.

His proudest achievement at LWT was to convince renowned, and sceptical, American Choreographer Twyla Tharpe that London musicians really could emulate the 1920s Jelly Roll Morton Band tapes she was used to using, which of course were prohibited by the MU/ITV agreements.

Two demo tracks were laboriously transcribed from the original recordings by the brilliant Max Harris, recorded by hand-picked musicians, and the tapes sent to New York, which Twyla approved.

Humphrey Burton’s “Aquarius” arts programme then made a documentary - an important segment of which was the story about the recording of the live music track. (The New Red Hot Peppers: Jock Cummings, Martin Fry, Roy Willox, Keith Christie, Kenny Baker, Brian Lemon & Judd Proctor).

The dancers were so enthralled with the experience - new to them - of performing to a live band, that they took the band to The Roundhouse for their season there in 1975. The recording was subsequently issued by Pye.

Skip retired from LWT after 21 years’ service in 1989 and repatriated to Australia in 1990.

He died aged 87 at a local nursing home after suffering dementia for several years, and is survived by his wife of 55 years, Di, and his daughter from his first marriage, Tracy.

Courtesy of Di Humphries

Ian Cameron

Ian was barely out of short trousers when he became a professional musician.

After demob from a short period in the RAF, where his dreams of piloting Spitfires turned into days of reconditioning ex-wartime trucks, he benefited from evenings practising the trumpet and playing in RAF base bands.

He then spent several years touring with the famous big bands of the 1950s, including Teddy Foster, Vic Lewis, Eric Winstone, Roy Fox, Billy Ternent and Geraldo, which saw him travelling the length and breadth of Britain, sailing back and forth across the Atlantic, plus regularly appearing on radio and TV.

With the launch of commercial television, he spent five years resident in the ITV studio orchestras playing for all the light entertainment shows, including productions featuring such notable music hall stars as The Crazy Gang, Arthur Askey, Max Miller, Frankie Howerd and many more.

In the 1960s Ian became a bandleader himself and worked in West End nightclubs, including seven years as musical director at Danny La Rue’s famous Hanover Square venue, the favourite ‘after show’ haunt for all the big stars visiting London.

Ian’s distinctive trumpet style was much-acclaimed by Judy Garland, Liberace, Betty Grable, Noel Coward and frequent royal visitors and led to his involvement in pilot shows for the first David Frost shows at the end of the decade.

Poached from the nightclub scene in the seventies by the Queen’s cousin Lady Elizabeth Anson to front her ‘Party Planners’, one of the first total party organising operations, Ian’s talents were much in evidence on the private party scene, with several appearances for the Royal Family including playing for Princess Diana at parties given by her father at Althorp (Ian was the late Earl Spencer’s favourite bandleader).

Other prestigious engagements have included parties at King Hussein’s palace in Amman and at the Sultan of Oman’s Berkshire residence amongst innumerable stately home and country house parties, and celebrations in virtually every top hotel in London and many around the UK.

Ian’s musical versatility also stretched to a period with the Royal Shakespeare Company on tour and at their London base.

During the 1970s Ian was also regularly recording broadcasts for Radio 2 with various combos from quartet to big band and formed the Marching Up And Down Band as a novelty studio group with regular live appearances on BBC’s ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ and sessions for other Radio 2 programmes.

After some years the concept of the band was further developed and evolved into ‘Professor Pip's Bandshow’ with Ian at the helm.

In 1981 Ian went into independent record production with the formation of Pip Records Ltd and its sister publishing company, Cornucopia Music Ltd.

He subsequently gained artistic success and a music business award for a single, featuring boy choristers from St. Paul’s Cathedral accompanied by his small brass section ensemble the ‘Horns of Plenty’.

Courtesy of Sara Cameron

John Welch aka John Martin

Sadly, we announce the passing of brilliant pianist John Welch (known from the 1980s by his stage name John Martin). Born in Bristol, John progressed to the Royal Academy of Music where he gained a formidable technique on piano and organ. His career embraced jazz performances, composing, arranging, and musical direction for many theatre productions.

Early on, he became well-known in Scotland and across the north of England, becoming musical director for Scottish Television and accompanying many global jazz stars including the great Ella Fitzgerald, and jamming with Oscar Peterson. In the 1980s, whilst a ship’s pianist in the Caribbean, he met the ship’s secretary Barbara and they married in 1985. Their son Christopher is now a professional cellist in Boston, USA.

For two years, John toured as Harry Secombe’s personal accompanist. He then returned to Bristol where he performed The Warsaw Piano Concerto in Colston Hall and was the invaluable anchor in all of my busy jazz bands for the last 20 years, tackling everything from New Orleans jazz to mainstream to big band and modern jazz with equal ease, accuracy and professionalism. He also ran his own trio at Bath’s Farmhouse Jazz Club.

Having battled with cancer for almost a year, he managed to perform until a month before his death on 8 January 2018. John’s illness scuppered my intention to nominate this most modest of men for the ‘UK’s Best Jazz Pianist’ Award. However, John’s music lives on in his many concerts that have been recorded and filmed.

Courtesy of Cass Caswell


Published: 19/06/2018

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