Pete Staples
Died 3rd Nov 2012

Picture from the DVD. "A Jazz Club Session with Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz"

04/11/12 - Dear Fred, It is with deep regret I inform you of the death yesterday of my dear pal and wonderful drummer Pete Staples. Pete was a founder member of Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz in 1983 and retired from the band, and playing, in 2001. Pete was offered the position of drummer in Humphrey Lyttelton's band in the 1960s but turned it down as he didn't fancy the professional life. However, he did play on Humph's LP "21 Years On" which was recorded in 1969 at the Conway Hall. I will let you have the funeral details later in the week when I have made the arrangements". - Mart Rodger, Manchester Jazz.

04/11/12 -

This very sad news has rocked me to my foundations. Please thank Mart Rodger for letting us all know via your site. Word of mouth doesn't necessarily work nowadays, as there isn't a joined-up scene, as in the good-old-days, except when we all meet up on such sad occasions as this, to see our dearly departed friends off. I haven't a great deal to write here. I never knew anything about his private life or about his family, but always thought the world of Pete Staples as a warm, friendly person, a great Jazz mate and a fabulously inventive and all-round drummer. He could be utterly unintrusive when the Jazz mood demanded it, or as brash or as large as life when that mood presented itself in the music. But, in my estimation, he was a top-flight performer with highly professional approach to his finely tuned craft. I'll try to say as much as I can muster off the top of my head.

Pete was the sort of person you expect will live forever; always jovial, full of jokes, and forever giving the impression that he didn't have a care in the world; although, of course, everyone realised that he cared a great deal about his Jazz and his drumming, and people. I first came across Pete, in the late 50s and early 60s. He was with the Red River Jazz Band then. Then for a long time during the 60s and 70s he was with the various Gordon Robinson outfits, helping Gordon to win Jazz awards up and down Britain and in Montreux, Switzerland. One very amusing incident occurred when the band was at the Montreux Jazz Festival. One of the Swiss organisers, who was liaising with the sound engineers, arranging the continuity between bands, asked Pete at what point Gordon's band was going to be ready to step out on stage. Pete replied, in his broad Stockport brogue:

"Just give us the wire, cock!"

The Swiss organiser is probably still asking himself what this meant? To Pete, the tune "Strangers in the Night" translated as "Strangers in My Pint" and "Stranger on the Shore" became "Stranger on the Floor". There were many more.

During the mid-70s, he and the late Pete Taylor (bassist) were chosen to back blind pianist Eddie Thompson at Friday sessions at the Warren Bulkeley Hotel in Mersey Square, Stockport. Eddie won the BBC's Pianist of the Year Award during that decade, and was without a doubt one of the finest Jazz pianists in this country, featured many times in the USA Jazz circuits. His stature in Jazz was very high. It was certainly the right choice to have head-hunted these two fantastic sidemen; not just for Eddie, but for the hundreds of fans that the Trio would eventually gather in. Although Pete didn't read drum music, Eddie saw in Pete that he had an all-time winner. Of course, Pete Taylor was no slouch either, and when Eddie frequently, unexpectedly and drastically changed key in the middle of a tune - sometimes 3 or 4 times in the one tune - Pete Taylor changed key with him in a split second, even if Eddie hadn't annouced the change. The same applied to any percussion rhythm, as mentally dictated by Eddie, often giving no signals. Pete Staples would pick it up immediately. The Eddie Thompson Trio (with the two Petes) also panned out in various directions, playing at other venues mainly in the North West, sometimes augmenting to quartets, quintets and sextets, using many of us on the scene who played - dare I repeat myself? - Mainstream. Multi-instrumentalist Dave Mott, was one such men Eddie would pick; there were also John Rowland (tpt), Randy Colville (reeds), Ken Wray, and occasionally even little old me - in my case probably out of pity!

But the sessions at the Warren soon became even more frequent; Eddie being such a great crowd-puller, the two Petes also building up their own fan base. At the end of the 70s and into the 80s, the E. T. T. always with the two Pete's in tow, played frequent electrifying sessions at the Birch Hall in Lees, as the Warren sessions were coming to an end with all the architectural face-lifts going on in the Mersey Square area, which eventually produced the Merseyway Precinct. The building is still there. Although he played with many other bands and combos of varying personnel, this just about brings us up to the time when Pete joined Mart and the boys in Manchester Jazz. We all know what a great band it became and continues to be; Pete's contribution added to that great quality by immesurable amounts, year by year. Mart is the best person to fill Pete's thousands of fans in about that period.

Please pass my deepest condolences to Pete's family and his closest friends. They are surely in the thoughts and prayers of all of us at this time; please also leave them with the comforting thought that Pete Staples lives on through many a recording to be heard and admired for many years to come.

You made this world a happier place, with your musical talent and your great sense of humour. May you rest in eternal peace, old mate.

Joe Silmon-Monerri

04/11/12 -

Terribly sorry to hear about Pete. Lovely guy and great musician.

Laurie Cooper.

05/11/12 -

There wasn't a drummer I knew who swung more than Pete.

He had natural gifts of timing, taste and dynamics that were God given.

Because I also lived in Offerton at the time Pete was still playing, we usually travelled to MRMJ gigs together. We listened to some great rhythm sections on CDs during our journeys and swinging was always the topic. Although he was a non-reader, he was the perfect big band drummer, as Alan Hare recognised.  His sense of what to play, in any context from New Orleans onwards was impeccable

A great drummer! A great man!

Roger A F Browne

07/11/12 -

Could I express my sorrow at the death of Pete Staples, whose playing I much enjoyed on occasional dep gigs with Manchester Jazz.

John Muskett

10/11/12 -

The Savannah Jazz Band would like to pay tribute to Pete Staples, a fine drummer and musician who died last week. He was an inspiration with his work with many bands especially the Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz Band. If only there were more like him.

John Meehan and The Savannah Jazz Band

12/11/10 -

Thank you Pete for your personality and fun when playing with Manchester Jazz. You made Monday nights very special. Always found time during the interval to have a few words with my Mother which she really appreciated. Our favourite song was "You're a Sweetheart". Everyone would join in and sing along. Very happy times. You were the "Sweetheart"x. Peace be with you.

Gaye Rudd.

18/11/12 - The Manchester Evening News published a lovely review on the funeral of Pete Staples today 16th November 2012 and you can read it on line here. There was a good turnout to say farewell and there is a picture taken by Reg Russell one of the jazz fans. - Mart Rodger

My thanks to Peter Webb for suggesting this YouTube video of the 1984/May, GDR-TV, Dresden Dixie Fest. when Pete Staples played on drums with the Red River Jazz Band. It also features Doug Whaley (t) Eric Brierley (tb) Tony Iddon (cl, ld) Danny Moss (ts) Joe Pailin (p) and Pete Mooney (b), with Sheila Collier  singing "Take My Hand Precious Lord", and Hit That Jive Jack.


See also item in Manchester Evening News


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