Les Bull RIP 3rd May 2015

This item from The Westmorland Gazette

03/05/15 - It was on Wednesday night at Norman Gibsons' jazz event in Lancaster that we met up again with Les Bull who had come to watch the Jereatric Jazz Band, and we chatted about his forthcoming gigs which he was looking forward to having only recently got his old band back together. He very kindly bought Barbara and myself a drink and therefore it was with utter disbelief that I heard the news tonight that Les was no longer with us. Pete Major, the pianist in the Les Bull Band, has sent me this email - "I have just heard the tragic news that our close friend and much loved bandleader Les’ Bull has passed away whilst in his music room at home. It is almost a year since Les’ lost his dear wife Maxine. Although this affected him deeply, he was regaining some enthusiasm for life and had started playing again with the band he formed over 10 years ago. Les’ was always upbeat about the band and keen to see and appreciate other bands on the circuit.  He had worked as a pro’ musician in London before returning to the North and settling in Kendal where he and his many musician friends and music enthusiasts formed the original Kendal Jazz Club and ran the, now famous, Kendal Pop Festivals. Through traditional jazz Les’ got to know all of the famous bandleaders and musicians in the then hay-days of the touring circuit. Alex Welch, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Ronny Scott, the list is endless, he was proud to be able to call all of these famous band leaders, and their band members, personal friends and, in more recent years, liked nothing better than to travel down to London to play with many of them at Lords Cricket Ground – cricket being his other great love.  A consummate professional and band leader par excellence, Les’ will be sadly missed by family and all who knew him and had the privilege of calling him a friend.  Details of the funeral to follow".

Les was a keen visitor to www.jazznorthwest.co.uk and was always very appreciative of the work that went onto it. His late wife Maxine told me, "Les always checks your web site before going to bed". Barbara and I regarded Les as a friend and we shall miss him.


 I was so shocked and saddened to hear the news of Les Bull’s passing. I was very fortunate to be asked to join his rhythm section when he was asked to provide a band for the Kendal Festival in the early 80’s . Les knew the sort of sound he wanted and the Band continued for a decade as the “Les Bull Festival Jazz Band”. He was very kind to me and went to great pains to get me to play in a certain way ! I have happy memories of him turning round to me and Ian Kershop on Banjo and giving us his “thumb and forefinger” sign to “keep it tight” ! With the front line of the late,great Sandy Axon on Trombone and Mike Unthank on Reeds ,Les always used to bring two or three new numbers to each gig which they had rehearsed. Together with John Smythe on Drums and Jack Gregg on Bass (both sadly no longer with us) Les achieved his special sound which packed pubs and jazz clubs whenever we played. He was such a nice guy to work with and I’m sure everyone else that has played with him over the years will feel that with his death we have come to the end of an era.

Roger Middleton.

Higher Ground by The Les Bull Festival Jazz Band
Recorded by Gavin & Steve Bull in January 1990 - "Live at The Outgate".

04/05/15 -

This is a terrible shock for me. This is the first chance I have had to check my e-mail since having to rush back 'home' here in N Ireland, where regrettably my sister's long term partner has passed away on Saturday morning, but hearing of Lez's death is a double whammy so very hard to take in. Lez had a great time last Wednesday as he really appreciated Fred Shawcross's Jeriatric Jazz. That 'Jazz Band' in heaven is just getting too darned full.

Norman  Gibson

07/05/15 -

Sorry to hear of the demise of Les Bull. Always liked to listen to his band, especially when we were in the Lake District.

Derek Skepper.

17/05/15 -

Very sad news about dear Les a great guy who will be much missed by all. From the Bentham Jazz Fans.

Michael ollins

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