Hugh Potter
15.07.1936 - 06.01.2016

07/01/16 - Sad news again,  our bass player and friend of many years, Hugh Potter, passed away yesterday evening after a short illness.  He is missed by many friends.  Details of funeral arrangements will follow. - Jon Critchley



Hugh started playing bass during his 6th form year at school and as a student at Liverpool University he played in the Liverpool University Jazz Band.  In the annual Inter-Varsity Jazz Contests of 1957 and 1958 gained the award of “Most Outstanding Musician”.   After graduating he played for 2 years with the Ken Morrell Trio in Sunderland, followed over the years with traditional to modern bands including: the Dave Ellis Trio, the Deian Hopkin Quartet, the John Rubin Trio, the Terry Hawkes Band, The Dave Saul Duo and the John Dunbavand Trio, backing those artists mentioned above, as well as Bruce Adams, Alan Barnes, Roy Williams and Campbell Burnap.  His major influences included Ray Brown, Percy Heath, Leroy Vinnegar and Red Mitchell.


Hugh joined the Original Panama Jazzband in 1991.  He was a great musician, a good friend and leaves a huge gap in many people's lives.

Jon Critchley

07/01/16 -


A very good player. Only met him a couple of times, but liked him as a fine musician and a good guy.


On the two occasions we played the same gig, it was noticeable how we respected each others’ musical space, which I like

Roger Browne

07/01/16 -

So sorry to hear about Hughie Potter passing away. A great bass player, and really nice guy. We played together a great deal in Liverpool in the sixties, Mardi Gras, Royal Tiger, and for some years at the Blue Angel.


When his mother was getting old and a bit confused, he went to immense lengths personally to look after her. Very kind.

Sad news indeed.


Unfortunately I will be unable to go to his funeral as I am currently out of the country.


John Rubin

07/01/16 -


Hugh will be very much missed.  What a fine Bassist he was. Hugh was a perfect Gent as well. 


I can recall a night at the Albert Dock in the late 90,s when he played with our band  I had locked myself out of my car, Hugh ran me home to St.Helens to pick up the spare keys .A 50 mile round trip.

The next night we both went to the Wigan Jazz Fest. to listen to Ray Brown in concert.  What a fabulous night that was.

God Bless you Hugh.
Peter Darwin M.J.B.

07/01/16 -


So sorry to hear about Hugh Potter. I have fond memories of working with him many times, and would like to be kept informed of the details of his final gig.

07/1/16 -


Oh no!! So sad to hear about Hughie Potter, a lovely bass player and member of the Panama. Please pass on our deep sympathy to Hugh's family. All the Merseys will be sad about that. We knew him well - he has played with us many times over the years. He was a fine bass player in his day, able to play different styles of jazz, small group, traditional, big band - he could do them all. He was so accurate and swung like the clappers. He became a little deaf but still a great musician. He will be very much missed around here.


Peter Fryer, Merseysippi Jazz Band

07/01/16 -


Dear me. Another one gone. I've known and played with Hugh on and off for many years.


Kind regards. Roy Gregory

10/01/16 -


I was very sorry to learn of Hughie's death. I'm afraid I only heard him play two or three times, but I depped for him several times in the early eighties (when I was a raw beginner, and Dave Saul or John Dunbavand was desperate), and I clearly remember the evening when drummer Trevor Carlisle recommended (over fish and chips) that I try to model my playing on Hugh's. It was good advice, and well-meant. I've depped for him more recently with the Panama; so I guess I managed it! My sincere condolences to Hugh's friends and family, the OPJB and and all those who played with him down the years.


Allan Wilcox

11/01/16 -

I was sorry to learn of Hugh’s death. At Liverpool University, when I took up the bass in the early 1960s, Hugh was a legend with Rhythm Club members from his playing a few years previously. During my student days I heard him when he returned for occasional lunchtime recitals, possibly with Vinny Parker and Ron Parry. Thereafter our paths crossed occasionally – at the Westminster (Chester) for Phoenix Band gigs, and, sadly, at the funerals of other musicians. He was an excellent bassist, and I’m glad to note that my list of favourite players is similar to his.

Best wishes,

John Muskett

12/01/16 -


So very sad to learn about Hugh. I remember him playing near Denbigh with our band and also on the odd occasion that I depped with OPJB many years ago, a fine bass player.


He will surely be sadly missed by the band, yet another great loss to the rapidly declining jazz fraternity both north and south. Please convey deepest sympathies to his family and the Original Panama Jazzband.


Alan Davies

14/01/16 -


It's was with sadness that I read that my old pall Hughie had passed away. He was a great guy and musician and will be missed by all who knew him. My condolences to his family.

Les Harris

15/01/15 -

So sorry to hear about Huge Potter. A lovely guy and a great bass player. What more could you want in a jazzer?

Mike McCombe.

15/01/16 -


Just read your newsletter and very sad to hear of Hughie's death. I was at Liverpool university in the early sixties playing in Rhythm Club bands and Hughie was thought of as some monster player. Later I played with him several times around Merseyside.

In about 1961 he played a lunchtime concert in the Gilmour hall of the union with Sam Ellis and Ron Parry, and some time later another with Daryl Dugdale and Ron, and I think I've still got a recording of some of this.

I last saw Hughie with Trevor Carlisle some years ago at a drum master class at RNCM given by Ed Thigpen.

RIP Hughie!

John Rotherham

16/01/16 -


H.P. no longer with us - sad news indeed.

I was a fan first and foremost but a friend soon after when I heard him in the early sixties.  His powerful playing shone like a beacon in those halcyon days post grad, at the Blue Angel Club in Liverpool, where he was the linchpin of the Oscar Peterson style trio run by pianist Dave 'Sam' Ellis with Ron Parry on drums.   One of the few who genuinely knew what the job description meant - especially back then.


Impeccable time, swing, dynamics & flowing bass lines.
A true 'Time Lord & Line King' !
R.I.P. Old Friend

John McCormick

01/02/16 -


I'd like to add my tribute to the many voices who remember Hugh Potter with such affection and admiration.  He was a very fine Bass player with a lovely 'singing' tone,  and one of the very few bass players who was able to make my piano sound just a little bit like Garner and Peterson !

Along with Bobby Boyd on drums we shared some excellent gigs and happy times.


Thank you Hugh


Derek Harrison

01/08/16 -


Dear friends ,

By sheer accident, while trawling through Google for some obscure purpose, I came across John Critchley's obituary to Hugh Potter published on your website in which he mentions that he once played with a quartet which I led at Aberystwyth University. And all these years I imagined that I had been playing in the Hugh Potter quartet, because he was the real class act of our outfit.

Reading all the warm tributes to him reminded me what an extraordinary bass player he was. In 1962, when I arrived at Aberystwyth, jazz was very much alive in British universities and Rhythm Clubs were extremely popular. I was fortunate in my first year to be the pianist in a modern jazz trio led by Roger Limb, another fine bass player, who spent his weekends with the Bill Nile Delta Jazzmen in Cheltenham whose drummer was none other than Charlie Watts. We even came second in our section at the InterUniversity Jazz Federation semis in 1963, but soundly beaten – no pun intended - by the Spencer Davis band from Birmingham University fronted by Evan Parker. The only consolation was that the Howard Riley Trio from Bangor came third. Those were heady days indeed.

However, Roger graduated and though we tried different bass players we had little success until, one day, Hugh Potter turned up. He was somewhat older than the rest of us and was starting a PhD and simply asked if he could sit in. From the very first notes he struck, a reverse arpeggio launching a powerful walking bass line at the start of Charlie Parker's Now's the Time, it was obvious this was someone very special, working at a standard way beyond anything we had heard before. Modest man that he was, we eventually dragged out of him that he had not only performed at the IUJF finals in 1957 and 1958 but had won the outstanding musician award, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that it would usually be a reed or brass player or pianist - in 1956 it was Shake Keane (Joe Harriot, Michael Garrick etc).

You can imagine how much in awe we became and what an extraordinary pleasure we had in the period thereafter. Though he didn't speak much about his life, I found out that Hugh had been a professional musician for a period. I do know that he worked with some fine musicians and had some hilarious tales about the kind of gigs they had to play in the very early 60s; on one occasion his band had to accompany a snake charmer, which didn't do much for the nerves of the musicians close by!

Although Hugh and I lost touch after university, I read about his musical activities from time to time. Of course, those who worked with him in the OPJB and the traditional jazz scene in the North West will know what a wonderful bass player he was. However, his favourite bassists were Ray Brown, Leroy Vinegar and Percy Heath, and Hugh was actually an astonishingly good modern jazz bass player, a truly versatile musician.

I was very sorry to hear about Hugh’s death but so glad to read all the marvellous tributes to him from his friends and colleagues. Clearly Hugh found great camaraderie with you all.

Sincerely, and with thanks for the memory, as the song goes.

Deian Hopkin
Beckenham, Kent



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