Photo kindly supplied by Anthony Mason
George began his long and varied musical career as a teenage guitarist in the Preston area with Vic Carter's Band. At Leeds University, he was the leader of the student dance band and spent each summer season playing at Port Erin, I.O.M. on bass. His National Service in the R.A.F. Education Branch took him only to Padgate where he built up such a good gig connection that he settled in the area after demob. He worked for many years at the Casino Ballroom, Warrington, followed by a long spell with the Johnny Prior Band at the Casino Ballroom, Leigh. As George Allen, he became bandleader at the Keirby Hotel, Burnley, followed by 20 years as M.D. at the Clayton Lodge Hotel, Newcastle-u-Lyme. After a long spell with Pat Nash and the Wally MacKenzie Orchestra, in Manchester, he joined Café Society on sousaphone, and since then, has played with Colin Ball and various Ceildhe bands.
In mid-March, I received a phone call from the daughter of George Allison (a very well-known multi-instrumentalist from Leigh, Lancashire, best-known for his skill on double bass, guitar and tuba in a wide variety of big-band, swing and small bands in a wide area of the north west and midlands), to inform me that he had passed away in hospital from cancer, on 10th March, which had been developing for several years. George’s daughter Claire, lives with her family in Philadelphia, U.S.A, and she explained that she could not get over here to organise a funeral for him because of the chaos caused by the Coronovirus Pandemic, which is likely to last for some months. She asked me to put something together to try to explain to his wide circle of friends over here, especially musicians with whom he had played for many years, since the 1950s what the plans were for his funeral.
The plan is that a very small private funeral and cremation is to be held which will be in early April, in Leigh and sadly cannot include friends at this point.
Not even Claire can get here for the cremation, which she is very upset about. However, when the situation over the pandemic improves she plans to come over to put together a special celebration for George, but of course she cannot make plans yet. I am in touch with Claire, whom I have met a number of times, the last time being on George’s 90th birthday on 24th March 2018.
I will try to let people know more when the situation clarifies itself.
I first met George and his wife , Ida in 1953, when I became a pupil at Culcheth Secondary School, near Warrington. They were both young teachers at the school, Ida being an English teacher and George taught History as well as being in charge of the school brass band. I was 11 years old and my dad was a saxophone player who was keen on jazz and dance bands, and he passed on his enthusiasm to me. George started me off on the trombone and gave me lessons and I soon joined the school band (my very first band) and I loved it. We would rehearse at lunchtimes, and I became responsible for tuning the band up before we started playing. George and my father became great friends and they played quite a lot together.
George and Ida became good personal friends about 1964, when I became a school teacher, and by then I had a keen interest in jazz and the friendship remained until his death.
In his later years, after retiring from a very successful teaching career he became an even busier musician, playing with bands such as the Café Society Orchestra, Art Lester’s Big Band and various other combinations. After many years of playing he started with cancer, but soldiered on and then he lost his wife Ida to cancer about 10 years ago , who had retired by then. He had to retire because he was finding it very difficult carrying heavy equipment around
But he never lost his enthusiasm for the music. He was a very popular fellow with a quirky, and dry sense of humour. Friends would pick him up at his home in Leigh to go to listen to local big bands. He used to travel over to the USA to see his daughter and go to hear famous bands over there, notably, Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks which had Jim Fryer on trombone, who became a friend of the Merseys.
I used to meet up with him in his latter years and go out for lunch on many occasions. The last time I saw him was about a month before his death and by then he was very unwell, but he never lost his will to live and be part of the music. He was not fit enough to go out, so we watched the video “The Benny Goodman Story” – he loved Benny Goodman.
I will never forget George. I personally have so much to thank him for.
Sorry to hear that Fred, George was a lovely man.
Great memories of George and we had lots of fun times!
George was our bass player when Cafe Society was first formed many years ago.
Our original line up was Colin Ball, Willy Entwistle, Vinny Parker, me and George on bass.
A little while later we became a quartet. Vinny and Colin left to form another band and we invited John Tucker to replace Colin. I persevered with Cafe Society and this line up continued for quite a few years.
We rehearsed at George’s house in Leigh and were always looked after by his charming wife Aida. Adrian their son was always a keen observer and very good company.
We played everywhere from the National Theatre in London to a holiday park in the north east where we were left open mouthed as the mc informed us ‘you can be as rude as you like lads, they’re ready for you’!! What on earth they were expecting was not what they got!!! By Jove!
George kept on playing almost right to the end and indeed his enthusiasm for music never waned.
I wished I’d
stayed more in touch of late but I shall cherish those memories and
always fondly remember George.
Tucker, George Allison, Anthony Mason & Willie Entwistle
Photo courtesy Anthony Mason
Sorry to hear of George Allison George and I became friends shortly after I moved back up here. I played many times with George as we often used him when Anything Goes played in Lancashire. He was a lovely man. With a cheerful personality He had a lovely home in Leigh that I always enjoyed visiting. He will be greatly missed. Bob Pickersgill.
Sorry to hear of the death of George Allison. Mike Reddin had worked a lot with him and spoke highly of him. I met him once when he dropped in at The Thatch and Thistle (Blackrod) to listen to us. A talk with George (and his wife, I seem to recollect) at the interval revealed a thoroughly nice bloke.