Joseph Augustine Anthony
02/07/16 - It is not often that I comment on musicians on these tribute pages as I know very few personally. I took this photograph of Joe on the first occasion we were able to meet up when he was playing for his old friend, Des Hopkins, at Southport Jazz Festival.
Joe was a retired linguist, lexicographer and Jazz multi-instrumentalist. He was married, later divorced, and the father of Joseph Alan, Edward Ferdinand and Jane Georgiana. He lived in Manchester, but his children live in different parts of the United Kingdom, although he remained in touch very frequently. He was out walking with one of his sons in Northallerton yesterday when he was unable to catch his breath, and although his son dialled 999, by the time they arrived Joe had already passed. The whole family were together at a barbecue in London and Joe was his usual self discussing his book's progress on Amazon amongst other things, according to his nephew Carlos.
I only met Joe about three times, but I very soon realised he was a warm thoughtful and deeply religious musician, who cared very much about other people. Joe loved to play jazz, not just traditional jazz but many other styles too, and his one disappointment was that he wasn't offered as many gigs as he would have liked. The biggest problem for Joe was that he didn't drive. so any gigs that he was offered had to be carefully weighed up to see if he could get there by public transport. This sometimes involved carrying clarinet, saxophones and a flute, and I can't imagine what the other bus passengers thought as he got on the bus!
Joe's emails more than made up for the conversations we missed, he was never one for using one word when a dozen were more accurate in their description. I can't begin to imagine how many newspaper cuttings he kept, and he was constantly working on several books as an author and lately as a self publisher, including one I fear we may never get to see - "THE MANCHESTER JAZZ SCENE (1919-1990s)". It was through all these emails that I got to know about Joe, his background and his family, as if he lived next door to me.
From time to time I would get requests from site visitors asking about bands and musicians that they use to go and watch in Manchester, and were they still playing? I could always rely on Joe to dig into his archives and come up with the answer. On the sad occasions that a musician passed away and Joe knew him, he would drop everything and write an obituary for the site, he wrote more than a dozen to date. He had a photographic memory and could remember the details of other musician's lives and family, which he would call upon for these obituaries.
Joe had an amazing life and career, and he once wrote his autobiography for Just Jazz Magazine, and with his permission, it was reproduced on this site. You can see some of his written works at http://sil4books.co.uk/books.html. His jazz book is shown but had yet to be completed and published, as it was a continuous and ongoing project for Joe.
I shall miss Joe.
Such sad news! I never met Joe, but feel I knew him well through his many delightful contributions to the jazz page. My condolences to his family.
Sad to hear Joe has passed away, a true gentleman of jazz and a joy to be with.
Terribly sad to hear that Fred, he will be much missed.
So another one goes.
I've known Joe Silmon for over 50 yrs. We've played in bands here and in London.
He never ceased to amaze me how he would turn up for jobs with his several dozen
instruments without being able to drive. He nevermissed musicians funerals where
ever they were. I remember him turning up for banjo player Dave Potts funeral
just as it finished. He had to catch several buses but he made it.
03/07/16 - Such dreadful news to hear. The passing of a close friend. Joe.
Sincere condolences to his family.
03/07/16 - I
was on a gig with Mart's band when your email came
through. To a man, we were all shocked and saddened
Silmon's many friends and admirers will be devastated by his sudden passing.
He was a consummate musician and a true gentleman. No doubt you will be
notifying us of the funeral arrangements as soon as they are available.
That is sad news. As
you may remember Joe wrote for Just Jazz in its early editions about the
Manchester Jazz Scene of the 50s and 60s. Always precise and always pretty
accurate in his reporting.
I never played with Joe, nor even knew him personally, but via email, he gave me unstinted, helpful advice during some difficult 'music days' when I was living in Spain.
know I must be just one of many, and we'll all miss him.
So sad to hear the
recent news of the passing of my good friend Joe Silmon. It was Joe that first
introduced me to the Jazz scene In 1960 when we played at the "Cona Coffee Bar"
in Manchester. I later had the opportunity to be along side him with The Tony
Smith Jazzmen, and later with the Joe Silmon Dixielanders. I, and many other
Jazz musicians will miss Joe's very talented musical achievements, and his
wonderful personality. My sincere condolences go out to all his family, and our
thoughts are with them at this sad time.
I am very sad to hear about Jo. I new him during his
Cheltenham GCHQ days late 80's into 90's. This was a period he felt was rather
thin on gigs - mostly due to his lack of a car. He was such a fine musician that
I used him when possible and felt it well worthwhile picking him up. The problem
was he might try to persuade me to stay and listen to records into the early
hours when I had a 9 am lecture to give at the Art College. It was always a
treat to play with him, even when the flute came out it fitted our oldstyle
jazz. I did not see him again till we met at Don Bridgewood's funeral last year-
he had trained all the way to Bentham - unfortunately without an instrument.
Goodnight dear Ned.
I am very sad to hear
about Jo. I new him during his Cheltenham GCHQ days late 80's into 90's. This
was a period he felt was rather thin on gigs - mostly due to his lack of a car.
He was such a fine musician that I used him when possible and felt it well
worthwhile picking him up. The problem was he might try to persuade me to stay
and listen to records into the early hours when I had a 9 am lecture to give at
the Art College. It was always a treat to play with him, even when the flute
came out it fitted our oldstyle jazz. I did not see him again till we met at Don
Bridgewood's funeral last year- he had trained all the way to Bentham -
unfortunately without an instrument.
Dear Fred, I was also shocked to hear of Joe's death. I knew him mainly from his early days when he used to sit in with The Crescent Jazz band at the Sportsman's restaurant on Market Street Manchester which Jenks used to run, and sometimes he came to The Bodega on Cross street when we were playing there.
I have been in touch with him through your site in latter years and we have emailed each other. He sent me the CD ... Jazz Friends... celebrating his 70 th birthday and 50 years in jazz .
He was such a fount of knowledge. We will miss his accounts of events he posted on your site and his inimitable way of describing them. My blind trombonist friend, Alan Thomas, remembers playing some sessions with him and Keith Pendlebury, and being given a lift with a friend in a television company van. Joe also played for a while with Maurice Pike's band that Alan later played with.
R. I. P. Joe and condolences to his family.
Brenda Canty-Forrest. (Was Tomkins)
Appallingly bad news. Like many others, I was proud to know Joe so well, in and
out of jazz. He once even joined a door-knocking, Vacuum Cleaner sales team with
(Durham Light Infantry) He became a regular visitor and slowly, especially with
our mutual admiration of Milligan, Sellers and Secombe, Joe and I became
friends. Later in the year he was invited to do a solo feature for which he
chose Dark Eyes. (Ochi Chyornye .. ??? ??????.)I heard someone ask him "What
key? Joe scurried over to me because I was half a theory lesson in front of
him.. blew the opening notes and asked quietly " What key is this, H ?" I blew a
few notes and pompously pronounced that was D minor. He went back to Alan Yates,
declared the key sig. and then launched into an astounding solo!
I am very sad to hear about the passing away of Joe Silmon. A wonderful musician and a very approachable person. Spent many a Saturday evening at the Black Lion in Salford when he played with the Zenith Six.
Thanks for the memories Joe.
04/07/16 - We are very sad and shocked to hear of Joe's passing. Joe was a truly
kind thoughtful person and a wonderful musician. Our thoughts are with his
04/07/16 - What a sad loss on hearing the death of Joe Silmon , a true gentleman and character who had an amazing knowledge of the Manchester Jazz scene and beyond ,as mentioned on the tribute page I too was looking forward to the completion of his book on the Manchester Jazz scene.
Dont forget Joe held the world record for playing jazz clarinet, UNDER WATER !! most of you should know how he managed it ?? I'll keep you guessing ,well done Joe, very upsetting to lose you a most interesting and genuine person to have known .. and perform on the Manchester jazz scene R I P .
Mark Mc Alister
sorry to hear this bad news. Over the years I never spent a lot of time on the
Manchester scene, which I regret. However, when I did get there Joe was one of
those people who always remembered my name, always made me welcome and always
encouraged me to sit in. I'm grateful for all that friendly encouragement. Apart
from the music I always found Joe excellent company - I remember interesting
conversations about all sorts of things.
Joe Silmon. What can I say?
Joe , you gave us all your best, your 100 per cent. A true gentleman, always a real pleasure to be in your company. You shared and chronicled our musical journeys -with music, love and true friendship. Not just the glory days, but the dark ones too. A wonderful little man with a heart of gold , full of fun and enthusiasm and commitment.
We all have our own , now sadly, memories of Joe. Since I moved to Sweden 5 years ago , Joe kept in touch with me, our shared memories of the Manchester Jazz Story, and personal musical memories. Just the realization that he is not there any more is hard to understand. As Fred Burnett has already said, Joe has been an invaluable help to him in with Jazz North West.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Fred for the wonderful work he does on behalf of us all . -I know Joe would appreciate that .
God Bless you, Joe Silmon
Sheila Collier, Helsingborg, Sweden.
I first met Joe in 1960’s when he was playing at the Black
Lion, M.S.G. and later at the Malt Shovels in Altrincham, and I would often give
him a lift home to Levenshulme in my red 1963 Mini. If he said ‘Fly me to the
Moon’ it meant lets go to the Moon Chinese restaurant after the gig. First we
would always go to his home to see his Mother and have a chat with her .Joe was
always a kind and considerate man.
My wife and I were very shocked to hear of the untimely passing of our dear friend Joe Silmon. Meeting Joe for the first time as a 14 year old Traditional Jazz fan I was present when he bought his first Saxophone from a part time musician and BBC sound man in Levenshulme where he lived on and off for so many years.
Following Joe and his music around Manchester culminated in being, with another friend the ”doormen” at Joe’s club in the Thatched House (Now under the Arndale Centre!) When Joe moved to London to play with the Back o Town Syncopaters it coincided with my working in the Capital and I heard some of the gigs the band played around London at that time. Some years later I was honoured when Joe asked me to be the Best Man at his wedding to Carol. This I readily agreed to do and gave my address at the Wedding in English and for the benefit of some of Joe’s relatives in very poor Spanish!
Joe was not only a
fantastic musician but he was a warm and compassionate man always ready to help
people in any way he could. As a man of faith may he rest in peace with the
grateful thanks of all of those who had the pleasure of knowing him.
I am so sorry to hear the sad news about Joe Silmon. He was a lovely man, and always found time to say kind words about everyone, and was far better at keeping in touch than I ever was! He was also a very fine saxophonist and I remember making a recording with him at Paul Medina's house, with Brian Pendleton. It was a wonderful and memorable evening, and one that he frequently reminisced about. I also remember the detailed account he wrote of my father-in-law's funeral.
My sincere condolences to his family who I know he held in very high regard.
Sadly I never
actually got to play with Joe but watched him play many many times with the
Zenith 6 before he defected south.
My dad was the drummer with Tony Smith's Jazzmen, I was about 12/13 years old (I'm 68 now) and had gone along to watch the band rehearsing on a Sunday afternoon at the MSG in Long Millgate Manchester. The band were all there with the exception of a clarinetist but had started anyway and part way through about the third tune I heard this wonderful sound from the entrance end of the club - it was Joe joining in with the band in 'New Orleans' style as he walked the length of the club to the stage.
I had a conversation with Joe about this only a couple of years ago and he did remember it - just as I do. I'm sure he won't have problem getting a seat in the reed section of wherever he's gone!
Having to write about the passing of Joe Silmon is I am sure, as with everyone, a great shock. My wife Elke, rather expected Joe to write my obituary when the time came rather than this role reversal.
I have played alongside Joe since I was 17. I was the trombonist in The Blackfriars Society Jazz Band led then by trumpeter Alan Royle and Joe was on clarinet. Our first gig was at The Thatched House in Manchester. From there we both joined pianist Phil Godbert in his band, which I think morphed into The Joe Silmon Jazzmen (what with the the sands of time I'm open to corrections on this).
Joe was a lifelong friend of all my family, often joining
us for our get-togethers. He was godfather to my trumpet-playing daughter
Louise. We shared common Spanish ancestry with Joe and at one time, with his
interest in genealology, he tried unsuccessfully to prove that our family trees
were linked sometime in the past. We had many a happy impromptu musical soiree
here at home with our mutual musician friends.
You leave a great gap in our lives, Joe.
When Paul Medina rang
early Sunday morning to give me the sad news of Joe's sudden death I thought
back to the memories of very happy times.
Love Julie Flynn,
I am absolutely gutted to learn of Joe's passing, He was a warm, friendly and funny person and great to be around. As a younger (30 year old!) jazz musician I was lucky to have a stint of a year or so playing with Joe in a trio which consisted of Joe on reeds, myself on bass and Rob McWhirter on guitar. It was a great experience sharing the stage with Joe and I remember many enjoyable gigs sitting back and listening to Joe's playing. It was testament to his ability as a musician that he was comfortable playing some of the more modern repertoire that Rob and I introduced to the trio and always willing to stretch out. In return Joe taught me a lot of jazz language and tunes.
I have many fond memories of conversations with Joe, especially in the car driving to and from gigs and rehearsals, he was never short of a interesting story or ten and was a good Spanish teacher too.
Joe - thanks for all of the great music and memories
Much saddened to hear of the death of Joe Silmon. I have done a number of gigs with him over the last few years and each one was a pleasure. His playing was as warm and witty as the man himself. Along with many others I will miss him greatly.
and I were shocked and saddened to hear of Joe's passing. He was a superb
musician, always full of enthusiasm, inventive musical phrasing, a top solo
performer, his humour and wit made him 'second to none'. It was only a few weeks
ago we played our last 'trio' gig together, (my first gig with Joe was in
1959/60, here in Manchester, can't remember which 'Jazz club'!!, could have been
the Thatched House). Our condolences to Joe's family, he will be sorely missed
by musicians and jazz followers alike. He leaves us with fond memories of his
musical talent, and wonderful personality.
I was shocked and
saddened to learn of Joe’s death. I first met him nearly forty years ago when we
played a couple of gigs (a telephone band, like most of those when our paths
crossed). As I was generally playing music at the traditional end of the
spectrum, it was a welcome diversion to accompany someone of a more modern
outlook. Then Joe disappeared from Manchester, leaving behind some wild rumours
of where he had gone and what he was doing – in Cheltenham? – Leeds? – Spain? –
behind the iron curtain? – engaged in espionage? – counter-espionage? – behind
enemy lines? And then he returned telling us that he had been translating and
really loved Joe – he was the kind of guy who was always pleased to see you -
and, as well as his superb playing skills, he was always fun to be with on a
gig. I played with him for a number of years in all sorts of bands although
primarily with the Panama Jazz Band and I enjoyed every minute of it. The Sunday
nights especially at Tommy Ducks with the Panama became a legend in Northern
Jazz circles. Musically he had it all and he also swung like the clappers.
David and Hilary Moore
We are just back from holiday and I am so sorry to be so late in adding my short tribute to Joe. I am not surprised you are being inundated, he was such a lovely and friendly man. When David and I were doing our jazz under the Heysham Heritage Hall banner, Joe arrived without a stand for his sax. All I did was to run him down to Promenade Music, where he got a reasonably priced one, and he never forgot it, thanking me by e-mail and mentioning it again as we met. I shall read every tribute as I feel so sad, but yet pleased to realise he had so many, many friends who loved him.
very saddened to hear the news of the death of a wonderful and lovely man - Joe
Silmon. Having been on the Manchester and N.West jazz scene since the late 1950s
/ early 60s onwards until I put my drumsticks away in October last. I have had
the pleasure of playing alongside Joe on many occasions and always found him to
be invariably cheerful and a sound musician on his various reed instruments.
I met Joe Silmon through my elder brother, Paul Medina, and my first remembered meeting was at the Warren Bulkeley pub in Stockport. We were backstage, waiting for our spot in a talent contest. As we stood there, waiting to go on, Joe, clarinet in mouth, played a note, “is that a B flat?” he asked me - just as he did with Howie the Howe (see Howard Murray's tribute) but, unlike brother Paul, who is pitch-perfect, I couldn't answer. Alongside us also, was the third member of the trio, a young man with a snare drum. Like the rest of us in those days, he was poor, and could only afford the single drum. His name was Mike Yarwood, who later would become world renowned as an impressionist and comic. (Incidently, and in passing, Joe would have been pleased to hear that the great trumpet player, Maynard Ferguson, also once played at the Warren Bulkeley)
In the 1960s, Joe's parents lived in a basement flat in Maida Vale, London. I accompanied Joe on one of his visits, and it was there that he recounted meeting the boogie/ blues pianist, John Mayall, on Euston station, who had an amplifier strapped to his back. The conversation went like this:” Hello, John, where are you off to?” ”America, to make my fortune, d'you want to join my band ?” “No, thanks, I'm too busy at the moment!” John Mayall, founder member of the Blues Breakers, did, in fact make his fortune, and the band became famous international stars.
On another occasion, Joe told me about when he'd been playing in France. Work was hard come by, and, being a typical musician, he had no money and was hungry. So hungry, that in desperation, he actually ATE A CHAMPAGNE CORK!
He was a good cook, too. At his 70th birthday party and at my nephew's 40th birthday party, he constructed a prodigious Russian Salad, which was a work of art in itself, (perhaps one of his family has a pic of this erection) and used to assemble “7 day stews” - to save time!
The repartee was always fierce when Joe was around. If you hurled an insult at him to gain a moment's breathing space, he would counter with the classic Neddy Seagoon reply “I resemble that remark!”
Au revoir, Joe, we hope you're getting some decent fried rice with a fried egg on top!
Mike (Miguelita) Medina, and very good friend of Joe's, Clare (Clarita) Johnson.
very sad to hear of the sudden death of Joe Silmon, a man of kindness, great
energy and enthusiasm. He played often with my late husband Frank Fonseca and I
enjoyed his playing and his general bonhomie whenever I met him at gigs. When
Frank died, Joe immediately set about writing an obituary for him which is still
I think on your site. He came to the funeral and played with all the other
musicians to commemorate and mark Frank's death. However, his kindness went
further than that because it transpired that he and I shared an interest in
genealogy and he was very helpful in my endeavours to uncover more about the
Fonseca family tree and he also translated some documents from the Portuguese
I heard from Paul Medina that Joe Siilmon had passed away. He was an interesting musician and will be missed by many.
Life is much too short, especially for Jazz musicians!
first met Joe when I was a sallow faced youth of about fifteen or so when he was
playing with my mate John Tucker in the Back'O'Town Syncopators. Probably at the
Bamboo. Apart from being one of the nicest people I have ever met, Joe was one
of the finest and best loved musicians. I was also lucky to play occasionally
with Joe over the years as he was always popping up as everyone's preferred dep.
For me, his amazing soprano sax playing will forever be his iconic trade mark
although a master of reeds in general. I have marked the day in the diary to say
my farewells to this lovely guy.
Joe Silmon (or "Uncle Joe" as I always knew him), was my godfather.
I used to get the latest edition of The Guinness Book of Records each year when he held the (somewhat obscure) record for playing the flute for an inordinately long time whilst in a submarine. It was not only a current edition, but it was autographed by Joe Silmon. Anyone that ever saw Uncle Joe's writing, would know it to be very impressive; incredibly neat and decorated with flamboyant flourishes.
When I was little, Uncle Joe came to all my birthday parties. Even as an adult, he always (without fail) sent me a birthday card. As were my own parents, Uncle Joe was quite religious, so it almost went without saying, that he was there for my First Holy Communion and other such occasions. I still have the Rosary Beads, that he gave me.
I described his sense of humour as "goon show humour". He was always jovial and quick-witted. At my dad's wedding (only a few years ago), I remember he and David Ellis laughing and joking in this style. I wish I could recall in more specific detail what they had been discussing. There was free wine for the guests though.... Suffice it to say, it was absolutely hilarious.
Finally, his ability as a musician was incredible. Everyone knows this. It will be his legacy.
My name is Xavier, and I'm Joe Silmon's oldest nephew.
Steve and I were so very sorry to hear of Joe's passing. What an educated,
interesting man and a great musician.
I just wanted to say, it was a true privilege to have a shared a part of Joe's life. God Bless You, Joe. -
Joe was one of the world's good guys who was also a very mean reed player. By example he taught me much about being a good human being.
Joe Silmon’s funeral
was held at Manchester Crematorium on August 1st 2016. The old chapel was filled
with mourners, including a good number of musicians (and a number of good
musicians). The custodian of this website, and his wife Barbara, were also
present. The service well reflected Joe’s faith, while being inclusive to those
with different beliefs, or none. His caring, considerate nature, and
accomplished musicianship were well portrayed, as was his sense of humour.
Afterwards a number of us repaired to Chorlton Irish Club.
I am Dave Potts’ son and I am shocked to learn of the passing of Joe Silmon. He was a lovely guy and was lucky to have a good chat with him when he came to my dad’s funeral last year. He was so full of enthusiasm and a had a real passion for jazz music. If have just seen the various tributes to him on the Internet, which is very poignant since he wrote a wonderful obituary on my own dad which was greatly appreciated.