Dick Nancarrow

Photo - Keith Allcock

25/04/13 -

Dick died at the weekend after falling ill in the autumn of last year. We miss him very much in The Jazz Gentlemen, for his friendship and also for the terrific foundation he gave the band. He was very easy to play with and swung like the proverbial clappers. He also listened, so that it was easy when playing with him to get those shifts of dynamic that are so valuable in creating variety in the music. We're grateful to have shared so much enjoyable music with him over the past decade.
A sentence from an email I've received from one of Dick's carers speaks volumes: "I have been caring and looking after him for the last 5 weeks and I am very grateful to have met such a friendly, caring, respectful and charming man." 

Keith Allcock

25/04/13 -

I learned last Sunday from George Galway of the death of drummer Dick Nancarrow on the previous day. Dick played for many years with (the late) Don Long at Ganders' in Manchester, and more recently had been with the Jazz Gentlemen, based in St Helen's. It's a few years since we last played together, but I always enjoyed both his company and his drumming.

John Muskett

25/04/13 -

I was devastated to hear the very sad news of Dick Nancarrow. I worked with him in many of Manchester's Jazz outfits over the decades, I had no idea he was ill.

Joe Silmon

26/04/13 -

Thanks for passing the sad news about Dick Nancarrow to me Fred. I didn't even know that he was ill. He was a great musician and a lovely guy, and someone whose company I valued very much on the rare occasions when I got to work with him in the last few years. I know that Kieth and the chaps in The Jazz Gentlemen will miss him  greatly.

Laurie Cooper.

26/04/13 -

I am very sorry to hear of Dick Nancarrow's death. I played beside Richard, (as I usually addressed him) in Keith Allcock's Doctor Jazz. With Keith's driving bass playing and Richard's great swing, timing and dynamics, what more could you ask for. It was, for me, a great honour to play with them. Richard could sometimes have a dour appearance but that would turn to jovial in an instant. He was a good friend during that period and would often call me, particularly when he was having difficulties with his computer. He will be sadly missed.

Howard Parr

This is very sad news Fred (and Keith) though not unexpected. Dick Nancarrow gigged with my Dad in the 'dance band' days of yesteryear. Dad always said 'That young Nancarrow is a really great drummer to play with. He swings, never gets in the way and he knows instinctively how to support a frontline player'. I was fortunate in later years to dep with Keith Allcock's Band and have Dick on drums. A lovely guy and a very fine drummer. RIP Dick - the song may be ended but your paradiddles linger on.

Ian Royle


My own tribute to Dick is rather late in being sent but none the less very sincere. I first played with him briefly at Ganders, Manchester, when, together with the late trombonist, Mike Holland, I was deputising for an absent Don Long. Later, I played with Dick, Don and his group, for three weeks at the Casa Bar in Zürich. I was immediately impressed by Dick's swinging style and the way that he could seize upon and embellish the idiosyncrasies of soloing members of the band, not to mention provide the most appropriate mainstay of the group itself. I had no hesitation in suggesting he should join our band, then called 'Razzamajazz', when we lost, through illness, the services of our then drummer, Bill Morton. Since then he has been the bedrock of 'Jazz Gentlemen'.

He was a real gentleman; very clear about which tunes and rhythms were not his real favourites,but (usually) prepared to give way to an otherwise majority vote! We shall all miss him greatly.

Derek Skepper.

Tribute sent to band leader Keith Allcock

Such sad news, Dick was a nice man to chat to, we are sorry to hear that he has passed away.

Jim and Vee Jefferies.

So sorry to hear of the death of Dick Nancarrow. I have such good memories of his playing over the years. One highlight was the concert in Neston Church. It was such a cold night but the hot music made up for it all !

Clive Edwards.

Sad news regarding Dick Nancarrow. He will be sadly missed by the Jazz Gentlemen as a brilliant drummer and a friend. I always found him entertaining, polite & happy to answer my dumb questions. He was always alert, listening when playing and was one of those characters who spoke with his eyes.

Mike and Lesley Millington.

Ann and I were very sad to read that Dick Nancarrow had died. We thoroughly enjoyed his contribution to The Jazz Gentlemen over the years and sincerely regret that this has come to an end.

Alan and Ann Deutsch

Very sorry to hear about Dick. He was very laid back for a drummer, not a great exhibitionist but he had a great driving beat

Bob Northey.

It was with great sorrow that I read of the recent death of Dick Nancarrow. I knew that he had been ill, evidenced by the fact that he did not appear with The Jazz Gentlemen on their recent gig at the Shrimper in Southport, but I had not realised his illness was anything serious. I had met him and heard him play many times over the years - he was a very friendly chap and a really good swinging drummer. .

Roy Swift.


Dick died on Saturday, April 20th, 2013, after an illness that started in autumn 2012. He was 75. Although of Cornish stock, and proud of it, he was born in London and educated at the prestigious Dulwich College. It was no doubt this background which gave him the cultured voice and expression which struck one immediately on meeting him for the first time. His crystal-clear, deep, old BBC-type voice bore a vivid air of authority. There was never any shilly-shallying with Dick. He was always honest, forthright, and only if necessary, blunt. He was a pleasant, friendly, kind, attentive and courteous man, with a witty, zany sense of humour and a fairly carefree approach to life.

From school he had gone into banking, but didn't feel at home in that profession and later took a job in advertising, which was what brought him to Manchester. He'd started playing the clarinet at school, having caught the jazz bug, but felt the competition on that instrument was too strong and moved to drums. That was the beginning of a lifelong passion for jazz and especially for the music of people like Eddie Condon, Muggsy Spanier and what is generally known as the Chicago-style (he had once played with Peanuts Hucko and liked to tell how the great man had said to him: "You play very nicely, kid, but you're not loud enough! Give it some f.... stick !").

Outside jazz, Dick's main interest was horse-racing and he really enjoyed having a wager. Each year until a few years ago, he and some friends used to go and stay in Cheltenham for the Cheltenham Festival in March.

After his move to Manchester, it was not long before he made his mark on the local jazz scene, playing with a number of bands. During the '70s, he did a good deal of work with Don Long's quintet at Ganders Go South, in a cellar below the rear entrance of Barton Arcade that connected with Deansgate, backing both national and international musicians. For some years, he also featured with that quintet on their annual residency at the famous Casa Bar in Zurich, a gig that Don Long had inherited after playing there with the Bob Wallis band.

From then on, he would be the drummer in Maurice Pike's Panama Jazz Band, when Gordon Clay was absent, later becoming a permanent fixture in that band. He also played with the Colin Tomkins Sextet with the likes of Rod Hopton (tbn), Alan Butler (pno), Vinny Parker (pno) and Joe Silmon (rds). Colin, a veteran of several local bands, including The Zenith Six, had gravitated towards a mainstream style. This approach to jazz suited Dick admirably, but that is not to say that he couldn't handle New Orleans material whenever that genre became applicable.

With the new millennium, Dick appeared with several more bands, including Alan Yates's Dixieland Hotshots, Don Long's 59th Street Bridge Band and the re-formed Cotton City Jazz Band, led by Barry Aldous. But the bulk of his work was now with St Helens-based outfits, because in 1999 he had taken over the drum chair at The Jazz Rendezvous in Rainford, a venue where three house musicians invited three guests every week from the cream of the North-West's jazzmen.

This gave rise to a couple of fine gigs on the Wirral with a band billed as The North-West All Stars, alongside Ian Royle, John Hallam, Don Long, Malcolm Hogarth and Keith Allcock. The Jazz Rendezvous gave birth to two further bands: Doctor Jazz, with a line-up of Derek Skepper (tpt), Eric Brierley (tbn), Terry Perry (rds), Howard Parr (gtr/bjo), Keith Allcock (bs), Edwina (vcls) and Dick, and The Jazz Gentlemen, with Derek Skepper, Terry Porter (rds), Terry Brunt (tbn), Maurice Gavan (pno), Keith Allcock and Dick.

It's with this band that Dick very happily spent the last eight years of his life, with residencies in St Helens and playing at many well- known jazz venues from the Midlands to Yorkshire and the Lake District.

With Dick on a gig, you knew the music would swing, and what better can you say about a drummer than that ? He was rock-solid and yet sensitive, because he was a drummer that listened, facilitating those shifts of emphasis, of rhythm, of dynamic, that make playing jazz such a pleasure, but when he pulled out all the stops, it really motored !

In short, he is sorely missed !

Keith Allcock & Joe Silmon-Monerri.

29th May, 2013.

Apart from Dick's cousin Sarah and her husband, Roger, the only family members present, who loved the music played at the Reception, and wished all present to be thanked for turning up, some with instruments and playing so well, I'd say that there were about 25 people in attendance at the Crematorium Chapel. The same number followed on to the Reception later on, at the Manchester City Police Horse and Dog-Training centre, at Hough End, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, where there used to be a thriving Sunday Jazz club not long ago. John Gordon and Cathy, Mike Reddin (both guitarless) and Mr & Mrs Tony Dunleavy were present, as were Don Long's widow, Mary, and her daughter Claire. The musical send-off was provided by the following musicians, some alternating: Maurice Gavan (pno), Keith Allcock (dbs), Barry Aldous (clt/tsx), Mick Burns (tpt), George Galway (clt), Terry Brunt (tbn), Tony Dunleavy (tbn) and me (sop. sx). Sarah and Roger went away delighted that Dick had had such a polished musical send-off. Dick had organised and paid in advance for his own funeral, and had instructed his solicitor to organise a hot-and-cold buffet for the mourners - which was very good .

Joe Silmon-Monerri.


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