Tony Foulkes

Photograph by Val Bracken - Rochdale Jazz Club

28th April 2013

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you Tony passed away peacefully earlier this evening.  Tony led the Harlem Hot Stompers for over forty years.

He will be greatly missed by his three children Caz, Sally and Richard and his four grandchildren Sam, Charlie, Joseph and Yasmin but most of all by me,

Joan Foulkes.

28/04/13 -

So sorry to hear the sad news of Tony Foulkes. I was a member of The Harlems for some years and always respected his musical vision and knowledge of what we we were doing. Kay and I send our heartfelt condolences to Joan and family.

Kay and Jon Critchley

29/04/13 -

I was very saddened to hear the news from Joan about Tony Foulkes passing. I got to know Tony through our Jazz Breaks for Warner. I do hope the band decide to continue. It would be a fitting memory to Tony for his forty years of leadership. On behalf of myself and the guys here at Just Jazz magazine please accept our condolences.

Pete Lay, Editor

29/04/13 -

Tony was leader of The Dallas Jazz Band in 1959 when I joined (my first "proper" band).  I have recently heard recordings that we made all those years ago and, even in those early days, Tony's ability to arrange some really complex interpretations of Morton, Ellington and Oliver classics for fledgling musicians was truly remarkable  The hallmark of The Harlem Hot stompers has been again Tony's attention to detail with his arranging and organising.

Leading bands, so passionately, over such a long time gives one an idea of Tony's dedication to supporting fellow musicians. On top of that, Tony was a thoroughly good man. He will be sorely missed

Roger Browne

29/04/13 -

Sad news about Tony Foulkes. He has been playing for many years and was another super contributor of our kind of music from the North West.

Martin Rodger
Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz

29/04/13 -

How very sad! Tony Foulkes was a good friend from long ago - the late 50s and 60s, when from about 1963 onwards, I did many a gig with the Dallas Jazz Band at the Bamboo Club in Hazel Grove, run by John, Chris and Clive Beeley - whose daytime restaurant and pattisserie was the evening venue for some of the greatest Jazz bands in the North West. I remember that, in those days, Tony worked in the Architects Department of Stockport County Council, located at Stockport Town Hall.

It's hard to believe he's gone! Since I don't drive, I've fallen out of touch with many dear old friends like Tony. Fortunately, I'm happy to say that Tony and I did play together fairly recently, at least within the past 5 years, when one night I dropped in on the band at Didsbury Cricket Club, and sat in with him and the boys.

I was in the Harlem Hot Stompers, with Julie Flynn as well as with Sheila Collier (then Mrs Lord), and with the early Smoky City Six (of the 60s). Tony was always a superb bandleader, with a great knowledge of harmony. He would often tell the other members of the front line exactly what note to play for a particular effect in a poignant section of a tune. He wanted everything to sound just right.

I'm going to particularly miss Tony's goonish sense of humour. We were both avid fans of the Goon Show, and both spoke the "lingo" fluently. Whenever we spoke on the phone, which we did often in the old days, it was always "Neddy, this; Neddy that", or "Needle, noddle, noo" and other goonish remarks. That show was so infectious on us youngsters at the time! That, and his great musicianship will give me something therapeutic to fall back on, whenever I'm reminiscing about him and old times.

Please convey my deepest condolences to his wife Joan, his children: Caz, Sally and Richard, and his grandchildren: Sam, Charlie, Joseph & Yasmin. Their sorrow must be immense. I hope, however, that the turnout at his funeral, which will be large, will take some of their sorrow away for at least a while.

Farewell, Tony, old pal, we'll meet again in the saxophone section Up There!
Joe Silmon-M

29/04/13 -

Bad News.  I was a founder member of the H H Stompers around 1970.  2 reed players / 4 piece front line.. Not common in those days.  Have recordings of that period.  I'm staggered by the total stability of the rhythm section even in those times.

Howard Murray


29/04/13 -

Very sad news. I have known Tony for 38 years as a member of the Harlem Hot Stompers but also as a very good friend. I need make no comment regarding his musical talents as others have already made mention but remember fondly - waiting for a tram in a downpour whilst at the San Diego Jazz Festival and then going the wrong way - sitting on a hill outside Pickering with a picnic prepared by Joan prior to playing at the Festival - eating fish and chips in Fleetwood and many more but especially Joan and Tony's Summer Parties with Joan's magnificent buffet, Tony's special meat balls and potent home brew. He will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with Joan, Caz, Sally, Richard and the grandchildren.

Ian and Carol McCann.

29/04/13 -

Very sorry to hear the sad news that Tony Foulkes has passed away. We so remember the lovely Christmas session we shared with him at Didsbury Cricket Club a couple of years ago. Love to Joan and family.

Sheila Collier and Lasse Karlsson
Helsingborg, Sweden

29/04/13 -

Vera and I are very saddened to hear of the death of Tony Foukes. I have known Tony and Joan since the mid fifties when we swapped venues with The Dallas Jazz Band, who played at that time at The Portwood Liberal Club, Stockport. My band was The Red River Stompers and our resident venue was The Angel in Dukinfield. Over the years I have depped many times with The Dallas Jazz Band and more recently with The Harlem Hot Stompers. Tony was a great clarinettist and I always enjoyed playing with him. Our condolences go out to Joan and the family.

Tony Smith & Vera.

30/04/13 -

We played together several times during the eighties, and I shall always remember Tony with great fondness and admiration.

Allan Wilcox.

30/04/13 -

We were very shocked and saddened to hear of Tony's departure from this World, as we didn't even know he was ill. It will be a quiet time in Harlem for a while. Tony and the Hot Stompers played for us a few times and know they enjoyed the experience as much as we did. On behalf of Heysham Heritage Hall Community Jazz, may we offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife and family.

Dave Wellock and Norman Gibson.

30/04/13 -

Tina and I were shocked and saddened by the news about Tony Foulkes. I played with the Harlem for about 13 years.

Our thoughts are with Joan, Caz, Sally and Richard.

Alan Bray


Sad news. Tony Foulkes has passed away, what a nice guy.

John Wall
Leeds Jazz Club.

30/04/13 -

I was saddened to hear the news about Tony. We went way back to the start of his playing career.

Back In 1957 Allan Dent and I were forming the Dallas Jazzband and had completed the line up except for clarinet. I was fortunate enough to read an article in the Stockport Express relating to a Skiffle Group and mentioning that one of the members wanted to play clarinet in a traditional jazzband. I found them playing in a church hall and that is how I met Tony. I invited him to a practice with the embryo Dallas and that was that. We had a few rehearsals and then, with hubris of youth, started regular sessions at the Portwood Liberal Club. Allan's father was acting as our manager and on one occasion even had us playing in the centre of Belle Vue Stadium before and during the meeting. He also arranged a visit to Cemaes Bay on Anglesey before the days of motorways. As I say the hubris of youth.

Tony will always be remembered for his musical talent and effervescent sense of humour. It has been a privilege to have known him. A lovely guy.

Mike and Sheila Pembroke


For over 20 years I sang with The Harlem Hot Stompers and I would like to add my tribute to Tony Foulkes .

Tony led the band with great enthusiasm and fun but had a talent for getting the group focused together with John Reade on the sometimes tricky arrangements. He was a joy to work with and it has been a privilege to have been a friend of both Joan & Tony ever since.

At one stage in the sixties the band became a family affair when my ex- husband ,Neil Flynn [on banjo] , his brother Jim Flynn [on drums]and myself all played with, Tony Foulkes [Reeds], Murray Smith Trumpet], John Ronan and later the irrepressible Pete Haslam {Trombone].

Founder member John Reade [piano ] and John Ronan who rejoined in place of Pete Haslam. Ian McCann [banjo & Guitar] & Dave Parr [Double Bass & Tuba] joined later to form a great rhythm section along with Dave Berry [Drums] who has retired to be replaced by Grant Taylor son of former Harlem Drummer Nev Taylor. Alan Bray played trumpet for several years whilst I was with the group and Bill Smith now fronts the band as well as playing with Yorkshires Savannah Jazz Band.

Friday night was always Harlem night playing at the newly refurbished White Lion cellar bar in Withington. Peter Blissett, the landlord had arrived after running a very successful pub on Kings Rd, Chelsea where he had Max Collies Rhythm Aces playing. After many happy years Pete went on to better things and the new landlord put strippers on instead of jazz and soon got closed down by the police.

The Harlem moved to The Midland Hotel on the corner of Burton Road & Lapwing Lane and more happy fun packed years followed before a major renovation meant the band had to move on.

Tony worked hard to find the band a new home at Big Jim Jacobs Warren Bulkeley Hotel in Stockport.

Pete Blissett moved back to the area as landlord of The Boars Head Pub, Market Street, Stockport and after he had extended the back room the Harlem joined him once again for more nights of packed out red hot jazz and laughter.

The final permanent venue Didsbury Cricket Club has been the bands home for more years than I can tell and long may it continue I like to think, with Tony Foulkes looking down on them all with a benevolent and wry smile.

Long live Jazz
Love Julie Flynn

01/05/13 -

It is only now that he is gone that we have realised how much Tony and Joan did to ensure the smooth running of the Harlem Hot Stompers. Tony organised the gigs, the PA, the repertoire, the presentation of the band. Joan organised the door and the finances. And it all happened so suddenly. We knew he was on chemotherapy but you would have never guessed it from his demeanour. He was as witty and entertaining as always in his fronting of the band. Suddenly Joan announced he would not be playing at Didsbury in March. And next that he would never play again. And then that he had gone into a hospice, and finally on 28 April that he had passed away. I still canít believe it.

We look forward to seeing you again Tony in the Sweet Bye and Bye.

John Reade

01/05/13 -

So sorry to hear about Tony Foulkes. I had the pleasure of depping for John Reade in the Harlem Hot Stompers when his other commitments took over. I enjoyed those sessions so much and Tony always seemed to get the right balance in the programme between popular trad jazz standards and numbers from the classic period of the 1920's. When he and Bill Smith took off on "Oriental Man" it was supersonic speed so that I had trouble keeping up with them. I shall miss his great sense of humour. I knew he been ill about 2 years ago but when I saw him last Autumn he was playing as well as ever.

My sympathy to Joan & all the family.
Jon Penn

01/05/13 -

Ann and I first met Tony when I joined the Dallas Jazz Band way back in 1957, he and the band played at our wedding in 1958 and we worked together again when Tony formed the Smoky City Six (later jazz band )

Even as early as the Dallas J B Tony was hot on chords, harmonies and he could skilfully sketch out an arrangement which made both bands popular and successful, non more so than the Harlem Hot Stompers

Tony was at his musical happiest leading his own bands playing the music he loved.

Ann and I take great comfort in our memories of a close friendship over the years with Joan and Tony and his passing saddens us deeply.

Joan will find the strength to carry on as must the band he was so proud of and which the jazz fraternity love so much.

Our love and thoughts are with Joan and family.

Ann and Geoff Wilde.

01/05/13 -

I was shocked and saddened to hear of Tony's death. I will always remember him as an excellent and dedicated musician who was of a most affable temperament. Although I left the Harlem Hot Stompers in 1975, it was a great pleasure to be reacquainted with Tony over the last 5 years, when I depped occasionally with the Stompers and was put with him in Ian McCann's various quartets at the Devonshire in Mellor.

For the record, Tony joined the Mick Burns Rhythm Kings in July, 1969, (replacing Ray Hayes) and was asked to become the leader of the band when Mick returned to London in September, 1969. Mick was replaced by the late Murray Smith the following month and the band continued as the Rhythm Kings. The change of name to the Harlem Hot Stompers came in January, 1970, when Howard Murray replaced Willy Entwistle. That the Stompers has remained one of the leading bands in the North-West shows what a good choice of leader we made all those years ago.

Colin Turner

We have known Tony & Joan for almost 44 years from when Tony joined the Mick Burns Rhythm Kings on 22-07-69 . Mick returned to London the following month -- Tony took over as leader & the band name changed to the Harlem Hot Stompers . Murray Smith joined on trumpet in the October & the first ever job as the HHS was on 20-12-69 at Accrington Jazz Club ( we were each paid £2-10-00 ! ) Howard Murray joined the band ( 6-1-70 ) on clarinet & tenor sax which created a more authentic sound to the many Ellington numbers we were playing at that time .

During 1970 the band had weekly residencies at the MSG in Manchester & later at the Southern Hotel in Chorlton . There were various personnel changes over the years ( including Julie Flynn as the regular vocalist ) yet Tony kept the band swinging & introduced many lesser-known ( & often complicated ) numbers to the repertoire .

Over the past 43 years Tony was ably supported by Joan with the many tasks involved in running a band . Thanks to Tony & Joan for all the good times we've had playing with the band & for all their hard work during those years & may Tony now rest in peace .

John & Anne Ronan.

03/05/13 -

I was chatting to Sheila on Facebook, and heard the sad news about Tony Foulkes. On my return to Stockport in 1961 following my degree course in Sheffield I contacted him, and within a couple of months he kindly invited me to join the Dallas Jazzband. That was an offer not to be refused, and I had a happy couple of years with them until I moved back to Sheffield.

In late 1965 he was putting together the Smoky City Six, and he contacted my parents to see if I might be available. They gave him my telephone number, and by that time I could drive and had a mini van, so I decided to join. Once again I had some great times with that band.

Tony was a fine driving clarinettist, a very good bandleader, and arranger. I am saddened that we will never meet again, especially as I hope to visit the North West at some stage this coming summer, and intended to catch up with him. Dani was saddened to hear the news as she remembers Tony well from the early days of the Smokies. Condolences to Joan and the family.

Tony West
34530 France

06/05/13 -

I joined the band back in 1975 to replace drummer Sid Levin who wanted a complete change of musical style. Within a week or two the rhythm section settled into the following: John Reade (piano) Ian McCann banjo/guitar, Dave Parr Double Bass, and myself on drums. This section remained intact for almost 36 years. This must constitute something of a record. We stayed together in the Harlem Hot Stompers because Tony was a great leader, He made the arrangements and we often rehearsed new material; Tony wrote out our playing programme for every session, and I believe that the jazz fans enjoyed the classic style music we played over the years. Tony WAS the band and of course enjoyed terrific help from his wife Joan. Tony's death has left a huge gap in jazz in the N. West . We salute him.

Dave and Muriel Berry


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