Last updated Thursday August 26, 2021 at 18:45:01
RIP 27th June 2021
Photo Fred Burnett 26th Aug 2004
We are sad to announce the death of our dear friend Gerry Owen. Gerry died peacefully in hospital on Sunday 27th June, he had been ill for some time. Gerry played sax and clarinet with many bands including River City Jazz band, New Orleans Express, Tuxedo and Canal Street Stompers. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.
We send our condolences to Kay and the family.
Derek and Trish Galloway
Very sad news. Such a lovely man and a very talented Reed player. He will be sorely missed. RIP Gerry.
28/06/21 - RIP Gerry,
Sad news indeed !!! It is more years than I care to remember that I last played in an ensemble with You ☝
My Condolences to Kay and Family.
Derek called me earlier today to tell me the sad news about Gerry. He was one of the nicest guys it’s been my pleasure to call a friend as well as a fellow musician, and a very knowledgeable and accomplished player on both sax and clarinet. I have been playing alongside Gerry for many years with the Tuxedo and River City bands, and when the Yarrow River were still operating he was always a number one ‘dep’ when we needed him. Playing alongside Gerry has given me both pleasure and encouragement over many years, and his gentle presence will be missed by so many of us. Heartfelt condolences to his family, and thanks for the pleasure he brought to our world of jazz music. Rest in Peace, Gerry. —
I am sailing in the Baltic and left Sandhamn at 5am today. That is the same harbour where I was when Gerry phoned me to tell me that Billy Edwards had died exactly seven years ago today. It is a flat calm sea and I was thinking about the great music Billy had given me over the years. That led to memories of Charles Wilson dying the year after on the 28th June so I just looked on your website to catch up with the news and saw that Gerry had died on the 27th. So sad to hear about Gerry, he was a lovely guy and I have many happy memories of his playing, often with Billy and Charles. He always created an authentic sound and I will miss his music and mischievous smile. RIP Gerry.
Gerry with the Savoy Jazzmen at The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton
Very sorry to hear this sad news. I’ve known and worked with Jerry on and off for many years now. He was always true to New Orleans Jazz.
Sad to hear of the passing of Gerry Owen. I haven’t played with him for a long time now and didn’t know he had been ill. I remember him as really nice N. Orleans style player and a very warm and friendly nice guy.
Gerry was the clarinettist I played with most following my return to the jazz scene in the early 1980s. He was also the last one I played with before I departed to live in Spain. He was a lovely, gentle man, knew everything that was thrown at him, and came across as so laid back as to be horizontal. It was an honour to have played with him. I have many hours of New Orleans Express recordings with him alongside his old mucker Hughie Gerrard. Here’s one with Gerry playing “Hush-a-bye” as a solo.
sad to hear of Gerry's passing. I've had the
pleasure of playing alongside him quite a lot in the
last few years & have always enjoyed being in his
sad news. A lovely gentle man. So many happy
memories of him depping with the Savoy. He will be
We played a small tribute to Gerry last night with Roy Gregory's Band. 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' seemed most appropriate as Gerry and I doubled up on 'chariot' transport for the Llandudno Pier gig with The River City Jazz Band. Gerry loved his cricket.-He was a member at Lancashire CC. for several years. He was also a passionate Warrington Wolves rugby league fan and supported an obscure football team - Manchester City as I recall. Gerry and I pounded the pavements with several New Orleans style marching bands though sadly over recent years, his health didn't allow him to walk and play at the same time. A thoroughly gentle man in the true sense of the word. RIP Gerry Owen.
I was very sorry to hear the sad news about Gerry,
someone who, for me, Richard Knock captured
perfectly when he spoke of his 'gentle presence'. I
met him for the first time only twenty or so years
ago, so others will certainly have known him better,
but I always enjoyed his playing on both clarinet
and alto and enjoyed his company both on stage and
in the car en route to gigs. He had a great rapport
with audiences and the well-deserved respect of his
fellow musicians. Thanks for the memories Gerry, and
my condolences to your family.
Links to videos of Gerry with the Five Towns
Footwarmers, at The Harp in Abrighton.
Very sad news about Gerry, talking with him the last
few months he seemed quite upbeat.
I played with Gerry many times in both parade bands
and traditional jazz bands. He was a regular member
of the Big Top Jazz Band when the band played for a
number of years at the Willows in Salford.
Very sad news. I remember Gerry well from 15 years
with Derek Galloway’s Milneburg Boys in several
Gerry has not played with New Orleans Wiggle for some time now but yes we have missed him on reeds on vocals and on smiles. Gerry and Pete Beaumont were a great combination on reeds and piano and were the driving force in the band as heard on the 'Over the Waves' CD recorded live at Keswick. Gerry enjoyed the combination so much he drove over the Pennines in all weathers for many years to play with our team until his health deteriorated. We pass on our condolences to his children.
The picture is taken at Leyburn Festival of Food and Drink wearing our Daleside Brewery sponsor's interesting T-shirts. - Richard Lord
I first met Gerry in the 1980s, we played together
for a number of years with the Magnolia band.
So sad to hear of Gerry’s demise. Nice to see so
many tributes from his musician friends, to a lovely
man and gifted reed player / vocalist in the New
I was very sorry to learn of the passing of Gerry Owen. I was lucky enough to know Gerry for the last thirty years and as others have said he was one of the kindest, modest and gentle people one could meet.
When I first started playing the clarinet he was so encouraging, allowing me to sit in with a real band! Always for several numbers and doing some duets. Wherever he was playing I was always greeted with a smile and "have you got your horn with you?"
His knowledge of New Orleans jazz was vast, he was a
great singer and MC. I will miss his thoughtful
playing, sense of humour, friendship and mentorship.
RIP Gerry and thank you for all that you did.
Such sad news about Gerry Owen.
Gerry was a member of the Rivercity Jazzmen for over 30 years, and would travel to North Wales every week for regular gigs - the Wednesday night jazz club in Llandudno and Conwy, and on weekends throughout the summer on the Pier in Llandudno. We could always rely on Gerry; a kind gentleman. I will miss our telephone calls to discuss rugby, F1 and bird watching. We send our deepest condolences to his family.
Here's one of the band's (and family) favourite songs, showcasing Gerry's vocals - Rivercity Jazzmen's version of 'Old Fashioned Love':
Thank you Gerry for years of great music and friendship. You will be sorely missed.
I was sorry to learn of the death of Gerry Owen. I first became aware of him in the 1970s. I think he played with the Manchester Panama Band (though I also associate Dave Burke with that band), before joining Hugh Gerrard in establishing New Orleans Express. He stayed with NOE until its merger with the Tuxedo band (whose name was retained). He also depped every week for Tom Alker (I think it was Tom’s bridge night) on the French Quarter’s Tuesday residency at Fallowfield Bowling and Tennis Club. A tune from a recording of one such night (with Phil Mason guesting on cornet) was played at Les Moore’s funeral.
We were together for some years at Cotebrook’s Fox and Barrel with the Milenburg Boys (no, I don’t know the correct spelling of Milenburg either!) and a number of Bunter’s Imperials’ performances at the Altrincham Garrick.
Gerry was an excellent musician (his mother had been a piano teacher and probably gave him a good grounding) with knowledge of a wide range of tunes. While New Orleans music was his preferred genre, he could handle a variety of idioms, his alto playing differing somewhat in style from his clarinet work. He knew (most of) the words to many tunes, and on the announcement of the next number would often quietly say “I could sing this if you like”, an offer no bandleader was able refuse.
Highly knowledgeable and intelligent, his interests included football (Manchester City), cricket (Lancashire) and birdwatching – for the latter he would travel on organized twitchers’ holidays. I shall remember him as an interesting and laid-back musical companion.
Condolences to Kay, and to Katherine, David and
Jean and I send our sincerest condolences to Kay,
Katherine, David and Edward.
For me, Gerry was also a quiet person; studious with
a laidback approach to life, honest and reliable
with very much his own style of playing. I once said
“that was a brilliant St Philip’s Street, but not as
good as Gerry Owen” - to that I got a big smile and
it is that smile I will always remember.
With the passing of Gerry Owen, we have lost someone very special. - a modest, friendly, hugely talented and versatile reeds player whose solos and ensemble work could be spellbinding.
He did have one fault though: he wasn't very good at parallel parking. I have a vivid memory of a 1995 tour in the Netherlands with the New Orleans Express when, after several attempts, Gerry ended up with the front of his car at least a yard out from the kerb and the back even further out than that. An amazed Dutchman who had watched the proceedings asked me how he had ever passed a driving test, and I had to explain that parallel parking wasn't part of the test in England. (It is in Holland, but they're not very good at hill-starts!)
What I shall miss most about Gerry is his slow, hesitant, whispering, almost-conspiratorial manner of one-to-one conversation. I used to love that.
Helen joins me in offering our condolences to his
I was very sad to hear that Gerry Owen had died,
although I knew that he'd been unwell for some time.
As so many people have said, Gerry was quite simply
a lovely man,, quiet, unassuming, and laid-back, but
passionate about the things which interested him,
especially New Orleans-style jazz, in which he was
It would be very hard to find anything nicer to say than the many accolades bestowed on Gerry Owen by his fellow musicians and friends. I would endorse them all.
I first met Gerry at The Black Lion, Salford. (Then a famous jazz pub) in 1962. He was dressed in a double breasted suit with twenty two inch bottom trousers. I think that it was his dad's de-mob suit, and he was made to wear it by his mother, who he was still living at the time. If you tried to speak with him on the telephone, she would insist on calling him Gerald.
In April 1971 Gerry and I travelled from Manchester to New Orleans and back without a word of disagreement between us. What he learned in those two weeks from listening to the Old Creole reed players who were actively playing at that time obviously had an influence on his playing style for the rest of his musical career.
Sorry to hear of the loss of Gerry Owen although I never got to play with him. Players of similar instruments don't seem to cross paths as, when they're on one gig their counterparts are on another. I met him often at festivals and of course at the dreaded funerals. We often had long natters and greatly enjoyed his company.. His playing was always described to me as enjoyable and melodic, much respected amongst his colleagues. I'll seek recordings online. Sad to see our ranks diminishing especially as we are scattered by Covid.. Gerry's colleagues will have some great memories.
My sincere condolences to his family.
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