Allan Bentham
Died Tuesday 12th Aug 2014

* John Turner passed away in September 2012

 14/08/14 -

Susie Bentham has emailed to tell me that her husband, Allan Bentham, passed away on Tues 12th Aug peacefully at home. In 1954, head boy Allan, had a classmate at Wigan Grammar School called John Turner*, whose father Roy, had his own dance band before the war, and even made records! They listened to his whole collection and knew they had to form a band. Allan once told me, "I borrowed £16 from his father to buy an alto sax, and paid 5/- for a tutor book and taught himself. I went to my bedroom and didn't come down for two months". They formed The Woodchoppers Band which was a dance band. In 1955 the Trad Revival was in full swing and Allan helped founding Wigan's first jazz club, playing in an upstairs room of the Park Hotel, Wigan, under the name The Douglas Valley Stompers. In 1970 following a telephone call from trumpet player Harold Roberts, Allan played at The Crawford Arms with The Rainy City Jazz Band at Red Rock, Wigan. He went on to play in the Art Lester Orchestra, graduating to lead alto, and stayed for over thirty years. In about 1976 they changed the Rainy City name to Force Seven. Allan said, "Some people presumed we had therefore abandoned our roots. we had NOT! Fully half our program was always Dixieland. We thought we had added the fire of the best of New Orleans and Trad to our particular Dixieland style!". Of later years Allan taught musicians to play reed instruments and formed a band for his pupils, eventually asking his old friend Cliff Carty to join him, along with promoter Derek Daniels and son Jack after hearing him play at The Crofters Jazz Club. You can read more about these bands in Reminiscing - Force Seven

Fred Burnett

15/08/14 -

 So sorry to read of the death of Allan Bentham. Memories of happy times with the Rainy City Jazzband days, particularly The Crawford Arms [Wigan] nights, late 60s early 70s.  Those amazing charity nights for some very worthy causes, one attended by no less than George Melly who sang with us that fantastic night. He also made the presentation.

My thoughts are with Sue and his family at this sad time.

Harold Roberts.

16/08/14 -

These are sad times!

Allanís death came as quite a shock to me; he was one of those musicians who have provided me with fond and lasting memories of jazz experiences. I was very fortunate to have shared the stage with him, on bass, at the Crawford Arms, Red Rock and also the Cherry Tree in Culcheth during the early nineteen seventies. Allan was a very supportive musician and encouraged me with my return to the clarinet, as well as joining the audience at clubs at which my own band played in later years; He shall be sadly missed by many musicians.

Both Edna and I wish to send our sympathy to Susan and the family.

Barry Aldous

16/08/14 -

So sorry to hear about the passing of Alan Bentham. We worked together with the Art Lester Band in the Horse Shoe in Little Hulton. At that time in the 1980s, I was new to big band music as I was working in the House Band at St. Edmunds Catholic Club backing the acts. Alan was always happy to help with any problems I had with the arrangements.

I'll never forget him.

R.I.P. Alan. - Gerry Clayton.

18/08/14 -

In your tribute to Allan Bentham you mentioned the Woodchoppers. At the Woodchoppers Ball was our signature tune. The line up was , Piano Gordon Barnes,  Drums, Arthur Tabiner,  Bass/Trombone John Turner,  Trumpet John Kelly, Lead Alto Allan Bentham, Second alto Joe baron (thatís me) and Tenor sax Pete Melling.

I will be at Allanís Funeral on Fri.  I have lived in Blackpool for 40 years but I have kept in touch with Allan and Chris Carty.  I hope other members of the Woodchoppers band will be there.

I will miss my friend Allan he was 17 when we first played together.

Kind regards - Joe Baron

01/09/04 -

I was sorry to read on the website of the death of Allan. Although we never played together (I think, but the memory is bit suspect these days), I had known Allanís name for a long time, by reputation (which was considerable) and from his occasional writings which made a lot of sense. He was kind enough to say some nice things about Cafť Olť, and the clarinet and tenor playing of Dominic Groves in particular, on hearing us at The Blundell Arms on the outskirts of Bolton a few years ago. We also met at Chorleyís Swan With Two Nicks and at Horwich RMI in recent years.

Allan neither disparaged older styles of jazz, nor failed to encourage a forward-looking approach: I liked his open-minded attitude. All of us have to go at some time, but Allanís departure is just the latest in a group of recently deceased stalwarts in the north-west, leaving jazz a little emptier. He will, Iím sure, be widely missed.


John Muskett



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