Ray Hayes



It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of Ray Hayes at his home in Runcorn. I was due to take him out for lunch today March 3rd his 72nd birthday and was unable to get any response from him at his apartment there.  The Property manageress gained access to his flat and paramedics were called and appeared that he had died in bed sometime yesterday.  He had not been well for several years suffering from gout and diabetes. The stress caused by his financial problems has not been good for him.

I shall always remember him as single minded jazz musician totally dedicated to the clarinet playing of Jimmie Noone & Johnny Dodds.

I last saw him 4 weeks ago when he came with me to see the Harlem Hot Stompers session at the Rochdale Jazz Club on Sunday February 2nd. where I was depping for John Reade.

I suspect there will have to be a coroners report and will keep you posted as to any funeral arrangements.

I first met Ray in the early 1980’s when we were both playing with the River City Jazzband based in Denbigh North Wales, but was aware that his Jazz pedigree went much further back to the 1960’s when he was the clarinet player in the Mick Burns Rhythm Kings based in Manchester which included Colin Turner, Willie Entwistle , John Ronan and John Reade. This fine band was heavily influenced by the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band and Ray Hayes’ Dodds inspired playing is remarkable.

He later became a founder member of the Harlem Hot Stompers and I was happy that I was able to take him to the Rochdale Jazz Club just 4 weeks ago to hear them play as I was deputising for John Reade that night. I know many memories were rekindled in the interval with John Ronan.

Others will no doubt fill in the years up to 1980 with more detail.

From 1983 -1993 he led bands under the names of “The Black Bottom Stompers” “The West End Jazzband” and “The Roaring 20’s Jazzband”. The latter held a residency at the Black Dog in Waverton Nr Chester for several years till it was converted into a Pub Grub venue. These bands included Ken Dorhan, Alan Bray, Hugh Gerrard, Dick Wharton or Billy Edwards on trumpet/cornet-Alan Pendlebury, Arthur Williams, Bart Poole & Arthur Peddar on Trombone- Myself or Macolm Hogarth on Piano- Roger Curtiss or Derek Roberts on Guitar & Banjo- Robin Tankard or Ray Owens on bass-John Fogg, Gordon Petit and later Alan Davies on drums. He also played regularly with the River City Jazzband including a television recording for S4C in 1984 at the Theatre Gwynedd in Bangor, N Wales where the photograph I have attached was taken

We also were privileged to have Yank Lawson guest with The Roaring 20’s band at the Llangollen Jazz Festival in May 1988. There were tours of Germany with the Roaring 20’s Band with Ray Smith, Ray Owens, Arthur Peddar, Alan Davies and my friend the late Dick Wharton on cornet. He gave up active playing in the mid 1990’s to concentrate on his business interests which included an off licence franchise and a laundry and dry cleaning business.

The last 5 years have been extremely difficult for him as the result a financial malpractice by solicitors in Spain where he was hoping to retire to for his latter years, The developers there were given the large deposit on the new apartments he was purchasing by his solicitor only to discover that they had no proper planning permission. As he had raised the finance on the security of his home and business properties in the UK he was faced with an impossible imbalance of expenditure against the non generation of rental income from the property in Spain resulting in significant stress & coupled with other medical problems which lead to the loss of his home and eventual Bankruptcy in October 2012. However despite all these problems when he was faced with costs of taking action against the developers in Spain to recover the very large deposit paid to them, he still had aspirations to get playing again and we spent much time together planning a return to the Jazz scene with possible line ups and so on.

I spoke to him only 24 hours before his death and he wanted to discuss the future course of action against the Spanish developers and the negligence of his first solicitors there and had gone to his home on March 3rd to take him out to lunch for his 72nd birthday which was when it was discovered that he had apparently died in sleep the night before.

Ray was one of those characters who was never afraid to speak his mind particularly if your playing was not what he was looking for. However this was due to his love of Hot Jazz from the Chicago and New Orleans and his desire to play in that style to the best of his ability.

It’s a great shame that he did not have more time to pursue this ambition in his later years.

Jon Penn

04/03/14 -

Ray was a blinkered devotee (my words) as confirmed by Mr Penn, and he was very good at what he did.  He once told me "I don't play anything that Johnny Dodds didn't".  He also once told me "Critchley, you'll never play trumpet as long as you have a hole in your a***" ! ( That's my exclamation mark, not his: he wasn't joking.  He may have a point...).   

Jon Critchley

04/03/13 -

Sorry to hear about Ray Hayes. I did keep in touch but, to my shame, not as often as I should have. I think the last time we spoke was around Christmas time. I do hope to go to the funeral. The sins of omission are often the worst.

Sue Reid-Povall

04/03/14 -

Thanks for letting me know the sad news about Ray Hayes. I played trumpet/cornet alongside Ray in various combinations in the 60s and remember him as a very good, uncompromising clarinet player with a powerful tone. He was a great admirer of Jimmy Noone and Johnny Dodds which was pretty obvious when you heard him play. I enjoyed playing with him very much.

I lost touch with Ray when I left Merseyside to live in Australia in 1973. I often wondered what had become of him and tried to find something about him on the internet, but to no avail. I do hope his talents were appreciated over there.

John Braben

05/03/14 -

It was with much sadness that I learnt of Ray Hayes’ passing from Ian McCann.

Ray was certainly a dedicated individualist, a talented clarinettist, indeed also respected in his working career.

He had a particular love of animals. His sense of humour was also very dry. I played in Ray’s band The Roaring Twenties for about 11 years after we both left the River City and also took him on 2 tours to Germany. A strong personal memory of Ray was when, after not playing for very many months, he practised again to come to my milestone birthday party especially to play with our band there. Though he retired from playing several years ago his presence on a jazz band stand and contribution to the genre will never be forgotten.

Ray in Germany 1992

Alan Davies, Cornwall

08/03/14 -

So sorry to hear about Ray Hayes. We go back to the early 60's when we used to play at the 1250 club (RAF Club) at the top of Bold Street Liverpool. He used to come most Sundays to hear the band and sit in from time to time. We were into the Hot 5's, 7's and Oliver then which was of course his forte.

He did of course run his own band for many years but I never found out why he stopped playing. It was such a shame. A fine musician.

Condolences to his family and friends.

Peter Swensson. (Savoy Jazzmen)

14/03/14 -

Helen and I had heard a lot about Ray Hayes during our early years in Liverpool at the beginning of the eighties, and when the opportunity arose for us to see and hear him play we jumped at the chance. His virtuosity on the clarinet was legendary, as was his hot-tempered unwillingness to suffer fools gladly. I can't remember where the gig took place, but it was in Liverpool, in quite a plush room with a raised seating area at the sides, and the band played on a proscenium stage. Among the musicians, Mike Swift was on banjo, I remember, and Bert Don on bass guitar, but before we arrived there was only one person in the audience - a relatively elderly woman who kept getting up to dance in an eccentric fashion in front of the band. Ray's impatience manifested itself pretty early on when he asked her to stop dancing and, when she did it again a little later, ordered her to leave. From then on, there were only two of us in the audience, but what we lacked in numbers we more than made up for in enthusiasm for the band. They were outstanding.

A few years later, I became part of Ray's regular Roaring Twenties line-up on Tuesday nights at the Black Dog, Waverton, with Alan Bray on trumpet, Alan Pendlebury or (later) Arthur Williams on trombone, Ian McCann on banjo and Alan Davies on drums. Alan Bray's wife Tina 'Bricktop' Earl would often join us on vocals, and I shall always treasure the experience of playing in that band under Ray's leadership. He wasn't always sweetness and light, and I received one or two memorable tongue-lashings, but he was a gifted musician who knew what he was talking about, and he taught me more than I can say.

Thanks, Ray.

Allan Wilcox

15/03/14 -

One of the bands Ray played in during the late 1960`s was the Mick Burns Rhythm Kings -- a band who included in their repertoire many numbers recorded in 1923 by King Olivers Creole Jazz Band. They utilised two trumpets as Oliver did & arrangements were very tight & organised. Ray`s role on clarinet was to interweave around the melody line & also play some incredibly difficult `breaks` - both of which he achieved superbly.
He based his playing at this time on Johnny Dodds & his driving, fluid style truly emulated the sound Dodds created with the Oliver band.

The band were only together for about 18 months & when Mick Burns went back to London the name was changed to the Harlem Hot Stompers -- a band still playing in the North West & Ray came to listen to them recently at Rochdale Jazz Club ( 2nd of February )

Apart from being a brilliant clarinetist Ray was also quite a character. He would turn up for jobs in his Jaguar & expect more travelling expenses than anyone else !

John Ronan

29/03/14 -

I was sorry to hear of the death of Ray Hayes. I introduced Ray to jazz in the late 50’s or early 60’s. At that time I lived in Liverpool but worked in Widnes where Ray lived. Ray was about 5 years younger than I and we met, I think, at one of the chemical companies where we both worked. I can’t remember quite how it became obvious that I was interested in jazz but Ray soon wanted to learn as much as I could tell him about this music. I lent him some books and records and very shortly he had purchased a clarinet as his idol was,right from the start, Johnny Dodds. His progress was rapid and the rest is history, his interest in Dodds obviously remaining with him. However I have a feeling that at some stage Ray did flirt with a tenor sax!

I moved from Liverpool in the early 60’s and lost touch with Ray. It seems that he was successful in following his idol and it appears from the tributes paid that he was much appreciated by his fellow musicians. His passing is a sad loss.

Colin Pritchard

02/04/14 -

Pete Swensson rang me in Brighton last night to tell me of the sad news of Ray Hayes’s death. I played with him for some years at his weekly jazz spot in the Adelphi Hotel along with Malc Murphy, Malcolm Horne and Co. and at other outside venues, though I can’t remember what name the band played under then. But I can remember back to when Ray Hayes had his authentic pair of wooden Albert clarinets. They had relatively few keys and were difficult to play, but boy did they have a fantastic sound. If Ray was there first, and he usually was (because he was a conscientious organiser), you could hear him warming up from Renshaw Street! The old clarinets also meant fewer notes and more thought and I was initially disappointed when Ray updated to more modern versions. But he had a fantastic technique, a superb memory and great musicianship. He was genuinely interested in what jazz could achieve and we had many long conversations about this at weekends. This must have been in the 1970s to judge from the photos. As a band leader Ray took no nonsense from anyone, management and audience included. Sometimes I wondered how we kept our regular gigs for so long: it must have been the quality of the music as Ray was such an exciting and extrovert player. A one-off who had the Dodds and Noone traditions entirely at his fingertips. A legend in his lifetime who will be sadly missed.

‘Professor’ Robert Orledge

BOLTON TOWN HALL Summer 1976:-
Charlie Smart (banjo) : Dave Wright (sousa) : Derek Galloway (trombone) : John Tucker (cornet) : Willie Entwhistle (alto) : Ray Hayes (clarinet) : Ian Howarth (drums)

Geoff Cole (trombone) : Malc Murphy (drums) : Mal Horne (banjo) : Robert Orlidge (piano) : Ray Hayes (clarinet) :  Malc Murphy (tpt)  : Terry Knight (bs)


As well as Ray Hayes, photos include Robin Tankard (string bass) Willie Entwistle (alto), John Braben (tpt), Andy Bennett (holding tuba)
taken in Sep/Oct 1971 outside the Jazz Palace in Salford.

Click on the pictures for larger versions and see if you can you name any others?

17/05/14 -

With shock and sadness, I only heard about Ray this week while depping with the Savoy jazz Band in Widnes.

In reply to the question of does anybody know who the other musicians' who are on the photographs at the end of 'The Tribute Page' for Ray, I have some information for you.

The photographs, were taken in the Late Charlie Clark's (washboard) backyard in Westminster Road, Liverpool sometime during the late sixties. I am on Banjo. The Band is one Ray knocked together for a Jazz Society 'do' which took place at The Cross Keys Hotel in Liverpool. Ray called the Band "Ray's Jazz Wizards", we played at just that one gig.

Charlie Clark who wasn't playing that night with the Band, he had only just played with it during the rehearsals, took a tape recording of part of the Gig that night which I put onto a CD and gave it to Ray at Robin Tankards funeral,

With Fond Memories,

John Cordwell.

09/07/14 -

Somewhat belatedly, I am sorry to read of Ray Hayes’ death. Ray lived in Dickson St. Widnes and attended Wade Deacon Grammar School. As a fellow Widnesian, I played trumpet in a local band with Ray following some sessions with Dave Lind in West Derby in the late 50’s. We were aged 17-18 at the time. 2 fine clarinettists lost to the North West. I left for Manchester in 1960. On moving to Chester in 1974, I met Ray again a few years later when he was playing at the Ring O’ Bells pub in Christleton, Chester. He had lost none of his enthusiasm, and informed me that he had made a trip to New Orleans and sat in with some bands which he found rewarding, but surprised me by saying ‘they were not as good as I expected’. This was probably a measure of his own high standards. I learned from the bass player of the Chicago Teddy Bears that Ray was depressed, but I never got round to visiting him. God Bless Ray and Dave.

Incidentally, I was recently in touch via e-mail with bassist Ron Lloyd who is well in Canada, where he leads the new New Orleans Express.

John Houghton.

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