GEORGE WEBB – The legend who introduced traditional jazz to UK

Newsletter about George Webb March 2010

I start this newsletter speaking about George Webb and how sad to hear we have lost him, yet we also have a great happiness when we think of him.  Keith and I also feel so proud, because we count ourselves among the many thousands of personal friends he had, even though we have only known him personally for about 20 of his 92 years.  I especially loved him calling me kitten, although I’m sure he called most of us women by that name.  Everyone thought of George as the living legend, George the jazz pioneer and George the great musician.  Well, I also love to think of George, the man who was always smiling.  I see the sprightly little man with the huge heart.  You have only got to look at his lovely family and what fun they all are, to know George and Minah were great parents.  Penny and Peter, I know you will be feeling a great emptiness at the moment, but what a man!  How lucky you are to have had such a Dad.  Without George, none of us would be on our jazz circuit (as I know it) and I would not be writing this newsletter.  What a talent he had.  We shall all miss him very much.

Our usual newsletter will be back next week, when I will write about last Friday and this Friday with Vintage Jazz.

Diane and Keith.


Jazz Pioneer, Band Leader, Pianist

8 October 1917 – 10 March 2010 (Aged 92½ yrs)

Tuesday, 31st March 2010, was George Webb’s funeral. It was bitterly cold, but on my way, the sun was shining and continued to shine until we were all inside the United Services Club (home to Sidcup Jazz Club). The Humanist service was conducted by Celebrant, Denis Cobell. I would guess there was at least a 300-strong crowd outside to see George’s coffin, followed by the family (on foot), plus Jim ‘Jimbo’ Pack as Grand Marshall, leading 20 musicians playing Jazz. The rain held off until we were all inside. Great and comical tributes were given by John Letchford and Sir Richard Waterhouse (ask him about his title). Then George Webb’s ‘Band of Brothers’ played that lovely number ‘Georgia on My Mind’, sung by Charlie Connor.  Then Digby Fairweather and George’s daughter, Penny gave their tributes. Your Dad would have been extremely proud of you, Penny. All the tributes were given with such humour, remembering funny memories, although I will not repeat them, as they are their stories. Then, whilst George and the family were departing for the Humanist Ceremony, the band played them on their way with ‘When the Red, Red Robin’, being the signature tune of Charlton Athletic Football Club. We all tried to sing it, but were all a bit choked up. As most of you are aware, George was an avid Charlton supporter (me being the other!) There was probably about 50 or 60 famous musicians and most of them took a turn at playing, whilst we all had a drink in George’s memory. I have a special bit of pride, because a photo chosen to appear on the programme of service, showing George and the band, perchance was taken on my birthday at our very own Farnborough Jazz Club. I have to say that no one ‘likes’ a funeral, but George must have been full of pride at all the happy faces of those of us who were celebrating his very colourful life. The warm and happy atmosphere was just as one would expect at a funeral of such a man, full of music and laughter.

Diane & Keith