Alan Yates

Died 9th July 2013


09/07/13 - Hello Fred, I just got the very sad news from Pete Smith (bass) that banjo/guitarist Alan Yates passed away early this morning. Alan played on the local Manchester scene for many years in the pubs and clubs and also on a great many private functions. When I have more details I'll let you know.  -  Ian Royle

10/07/13 -


Joe Silmon


Alan was the guitarist/banjoist in one of the first actual Jazz outfits that I started to dabble with between 1958 and 1959. This period came after I had developed more than a passing interest in local Jazz, having discovered that there was a thriving Jazz community in Manchester; i.e. it was after I had start to inflict myself, mainly on the then frowned-on tenor sax, in sit-ins with outfits such as Johnny Tippett's Jazzmen and Keith Pendlebury's Jazzmen. They were the only musicians, I must quickly add, who didn't mind the sax. Keith was with Johnny on my first sit-in session at the Sportsman Restaurant Jazz room down the stairs, at that Market St., Manchester, venue, for Jazz purposes called the Manchester Sports Guild, run by an often irate man called JENKS. He secretly came to love Jazzers - eventually.

All this new experience led me to find out if any bands were forming. Sure enough, there was this band rehearsing in a pub called the Moss Trooper in Timperley, Altrincham, Alan's stomping ground. He lived not far away. We were of similar age. Alan led the rehearsals at the time. Our early sound heralded some degree of promise. The band that was rehearsing was really being formed by another Alan. Alan Royle played cornet, and was hell-bent on producing a band that would play mainly a New Orleans style. He had everybody except a reedman. It was my golden chance. The band was eventually called Alan Royle's "Black Friars' Society Orchestra". So that was the first genuine Jazz band of which I was actually a founder member - albeit at the eleventh hour of its foundation. We met frequently and played at the Cona Café in Tib Lane, near the Town Hall Tavern. Alan Yates soon showed himself to be possibly the backbone of the band; his expertise in chords was astounding. So the other Alan (Royle) would bring up a menu of tunes that we would all work on, but without Alan Yates's knowledge, and often apparent leader qualities, being a benign but forceful sort of person - a trait that followed during the whole of his career in Jazz and general entertainment - so we all knew that if we wanted guidance as to chords, Alan Yates, would call the shots. Alan Royle was the 'ideas' man regarding styles and numbers. The rest of us just stood by and followed orders. A little later we had two clarinets in the band. Howard Murray and I. Dick Mason was on double bass, Malcolm Ferrari on drums, Brian Hannigan (piano). Paul Medina was on trombone some of the time; a second Howard (Burrows) joined on trombone. We now had a full band. We did sessions at the Cona Café and later the Thatched House on Wednesdays. We had a wonderful benefactor in one Ralph Toller, who ferried the entire band around - even as far as our first out-of-town gig in Rhyl, all petrol costs covered by him. He was a true philanthropist. Ralph also fed us when we rehearsed at his house in Brooklands.

Alan Yates was called up - some time before all the above activities - into the Royal Navy. His "training ship" was a land-based barracks at Chatham; "HMS PEMBROKE" (where my own Dad had trained in his teens before being involved in WW1 in 1914) was a place that had almost put an end to any kind of career for Alan. The fledgling Matelots of the future British Navy were required to sample the delights of sleeping in hammocks; one night, Alan fell out of his hammock. The result wasn't just a bruise or two. He had broken his back. The injury only succeeded in having Alan invalided out of the Navy, permanently. He recovered sufficiently so as to fool the rest of us into thinking that all was 'ticketty-boo', even around that time, perhaps two or three years after the accident had happened. But he was to suffer from it for the rest of his life, and it affected his driving, in so far as he couldn't turn around to look at traffic behind. He had to rely on wing mirrors. He never complained about this, until in his old age. Call it pride.

Since these early beginnings, and after leaving Alan Royle's band, in 1959, Alan was part of my band "Joe Silmon's Jazzmen", also at the Thatched House, on Cross Street (details in my autobiography), although there, he was replaced by Harvey Tattersall and later Gerry Cambridge, I went into other bands, and Alan Yates and I went our separate ways, meeting up from time to time, as part of the late Phil Godbert's bands, or in outfits that Alan had put together with our life-long friend Pete Smith (double-bass), and Ronnie Arnold (drums). Sometime in the early 60s, another old friend Mike Gilman (drums), later replaced by Mike Ogden. Alan, Pete Smith, Howard Murray, Howard Burrows, a second trombonist Niall Jackson and myself were part of the Art Riley band at the RAFA at Dunedin House, Sale. During those sessions, the NDO "splinter-group" - "The Tradlads", would call in at the RAFA; they needed practice regarding our form of extemporisation ("busking"), and so we would be treated to their polished technique and expert musicianship, while they would pick up phrasing ideas from us lowly Jazzers. Syd Lawrence (tpt), Rodger Fleetwood (alto sax/clt)), Frank Dixon were the front line. Alan Roper/Bernard Herrmann (pno), Bob Turner (dms) were the rhythm section. They never brought a bassist along. Alan Roper, incidentally, was a 14-year-old founder member of Manchester Grammar School's "The Heat Spots", in 1936. Later in the 1960s, Alan Yates and Pete Smith did a great deal of work, using Bob Turner as their featured drummer. I was lucky to be in on one or two of those sessions, with Howard Burrows. Always electrifying, and in a venue Stretford (the Town Hall?), Howard and I used to entertain the passengers (whether they liked it or not) on the train back to Manchester. In the 70s and 80s Alan and Pete and a variety of reed players, keyboard-folk and drummers secured a successful residency at the prestigious Cresta Hotel, entertaining dancers and listeners.

Alan Yates and Peter undoubtedly shared their longest partnership ever, even until recent months, when Alan had become extremely ill. In the various bands of one size or another, which included Ronnie Arnold (ex-Peter Fielding Orchestra, ex-Saints Jazz Band, ex-Zenith Six), over the decades, Alan and the boys travelled all over the British Isles. The late Don Long was in many of these bands that Alan ran. Alan and Don held two separate residencies at the Chorlton Conservative Club. On alternate Thursdays, Jazz fans could either hear Don's "59th Street Bridge Band", or Alan Yates "Dixieland Hotshots" (in which Don Long played his trombone in that inimitable style). I was in Alan's and Don's bands for several years. Apart from two fairly recent occasions when Alan asked me to deputise for whoever was missing from the reeds chair, we lost touch, other than by phone occasionally. Since the beginning of the Millennium, Alan and Pete, Ronnie Arnold, or whoever was on drums, invariably with Stuart "Scotty" Scott (reeds) and frequently Ian Royle on trumpet/flugel horn, in recent years played mainly in the Altrincham area, and occasionally on quite distant gigs. Alan kept himself and the boys (and one girl - Rebecca "HATS" McShane) busy to the nth degree, for that was the nature of the man. There were always the "joke" sessions, frequently between songs; it made for an entertaining evening or afternoon. Alan spent hours every week collating as many jokes and other anecdotes from as many sources he could find, to entertain the Jazz fans.

As far as I know, Alan Yates upheld his part of the bargain he set for himself when he fell from that hammock in the late 50s; HE JUST WOULDN'T GIVE UP! Some of us thought he would rally and recover; but it was not to be. May I offer my condolences and those of the local Jazz Community, to his closest friend, Mrs Rossine Millie, his brother David Yates and son Michael, and other members of Alan's family and his many friends. I personally promised that I would pray for him. But that was for his recovery; his Cancer of the Kidney was too strong for prayer in the end. I believe that when Alan was finally taken to St. Ann'e Hospice, he breathed a sigh of relief because he knew he was in the best hands in his final hours. Alan died at approximately 01:30 am on Monday, 8th July 2013. It has been suggested that donations, if intended, should be directed to that wonderful organisation.

I shall close with the funeral details: Altrincham Crematorium, 12 midday, on Monday, 15th July, according to Pete Smith.

Goodbye Alan. I will pray for the eternal rest of your soul.

Joe Silmon-Monerri

Reproduced by kind permission of Tony Gayle

We learned of the death of ALTRINCHAM GUITARIST ALAN YATES and also ELLESMERE PARK, ECCLES BASS GUITARIST EDDIE HOSEY on June 9, 2013. It was like a huge slice of our lives being taken all at once. 

I was introduced to Alan on a band gig around 1975. Alan was a car salesman at the time, and lived on Deansgate Lane, Timperley. His style of playing was "in your face" - he had a certain winning way with audiences however and could put over a Rock n Roll number probably better than most. His leadership abilities also took the pressure off myself at Functions. We quickly formed a partnership and decided to call our Band THE ALAN ANTHONY SET. Alan enabled me to subsequently play with some fine musicians, including the late great BBC drummer Bob Turner Snr whom I often booked for Working Men's Club gigs. Alan was also a mentor to me in many ways. Some may just remember him as a Jazz Player. He was in fact an "all rounder" - I worked with him on everything from sequence dance music to Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall" to Bee Gees and Stevie Wonder arrangements. He could take on almost any gig and make something of it - even the Strict Tempo world for dancers.

In the late 70s I accepted an invitation to put the band into the smaller ballroom for Prestatyn Ballroom and Sequence Dance Festival run by a Harold and Glynis Russell. I'll always remember Alan setting-to at Pontins Tower Beach, Prestatyn on this type of work with myself, Ronnie Arnold and Eddie Hosey. We were faced with a hundred or more sequence dancers complete with shiny patent leather shoes and Thermos flasks all waiting to attack should an extra bar of music be inserted without thought! (or course myself and Al had done all this before at Parr Hall in Warrington). He also worked in the Jazz world with great musicians like Ian Royle, Joe Silmon and Gordon Robinson.

We welcome all Jazz Musicians to view the video we have here on our old friend Alan, who touched our lives over so many years. The bass player-vocalist in the videos is Pete Smith whom I thank sincerely for breaking the sad news to us. Pete was a simply great addition to the Band when Eddie Hosey left and is still an active performing musician.  We called our band after our first names and I suggested the word "Set" as I'd seen a band in North Wales also using this term. Although we had years of not seeing each other - myself, Alan (and Sue) remained dear friends. I can only say THANK YOU to my dear wife for these videos she took, which I hope will both bring a smile and a tear to Alan's family and many friends.

Sue and Tony Gayle

Photograph from the funeral taken by Tony Gayle

L_R Derek Galloway, John Tucker, Joe Silmon, Ian Royle, Pete Smith and John Gordon.

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