DOWN MEMORY LANE Fond memories of musician who was a true jazz pioneer

Duncan Barkes' column about old musicians brought back a few memories for Bill Harvey.

Thursday, 9th June 2011, 11:09 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:58 pm

Bill, of Lagoon Road, Pagham Beach, says:

I can add a few details for the column – and also add some more musicians of note.

Mick Mulligan was a good friend and fellow trumpet player of mine. He led a very colourful band from about 1949-1962, and was a leading pioneer in establishing jazz in this country, although he didn’t realise it at the time.

He was the one who discovered George Melly and they travelled the breadth of the British Isles as pioneers of where to play jazz – from village halls, through British Legions, pigeon fanciers clubs, to the Royal Festival Hall.

Mick retired about 1963 and took a grocers/off-licence shop in Easebourne, near Midhurst. Then he was a partner in a garage (‘I can’t smoke when serving petrol – not like when slicing bacon’), finally retiring to Pagham, near to the parish church.

He was then remembered and sought after by generations of jazz musicians and aficionados who wanted to know of this legend, Mick Mulligan.

He died in 2007, and at his funeral his wife very kindly asked me to form a representative jazz band.

There was no problem finding willing musicians. The problem was to limit the number who volunteered! The church at Pagham was packed.

Of course, a very prominent local musician is the world-class tenor player Bobby Wellins.

Then for a long time, but no longer with us, there was Kenny Baker, a world-class trumpet player.

One could also add Tommy McQuater (a colleague of Kenny’s) and a recent arrival, drummer Bobby Worth. He recently appeared on TV in a quartet backing Barbara Streisand.

So that’s just a few to get on with, but I’m sure there must be more. It would be interesting if anyone else could add a few more reminiscences.