Last updated Thursday August 26, 2021 at 18:45:01

Gerry Owen
RIP 27th June 2021

Photo Fred Burnett 26th Aug 2004

28/06/21 -

We are sad to announce the death of our dear friend Gerry Owen.  Gerry died peacefully in hospital on Sunday 27th June, he had been ill for some time.   Gerry played sax and clarinet with many bands including River City Jazz band, New Orleans Express, Tuxedo and Canal Street Stompers.   Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

We send our condolences to Kay and the family.

Derek and Trish Galloway

28/06/21 -

Very sad news. Such a lovely man and a very talented Reed player. He will be sorely missed. RIP Gerry. 

John Dorgan

28/06/21 - RIP Gerry,

Sad news indeed !!!  It is more years than I care to remember that I last played in an ensemble with You ☝

My Condolences  to Kay and Family. 

Tony Kennedy. 

28/06/21 -

Derek called me earlier today to tell me the sad news about Gerry. He was one of the nicest guys it’s been my pleasure to call a friend as well as a fellow musician, and a very knowledgeable and accomplished player on both sax and clarinet. I have been playing alongside Gerry for many years with the Tuxedo  and River City bands, and when the Yarrow River were still operating he was always a number one ‘dep’ when we needed him. Playing alongside Gerry has given me both pleasure and encouragement over many years, and his gentle presence will be missed by so many of us. Heartfelt condolences to his family, and thanks for the pleasure he brought to our world of jazz music. Rest in Peace, Gerry. —

Richard Knock.

29/06/21 -

I am sailing in the Baltic and left Sandhamn at 5am today. That is the same harbour where I was when Gerry phoned me to tell me that Billy Edwards had died exactly seven years ago today. It is a flat calm sea and I was thinking about the great music Billy had given me over the years. That led to memories of Charles Wilson dying the year after on the 28th June so I just looked on your website to catch up with the news and saw that Gerry had died on the 27th. So sad to hear about Gerry, he was a lovely guy and I have many happy memories of his playing, often with Billy and Charles. He always created an authentic sound and I will miss his music and mischievous smile. RIP Gerry.

Rex Goodwin


Gerry with the Savoy Jazzmen  at The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton

29.06/21 -

Very sorry to hear this sad news. I’ve known and worked with Jerry on and off for many years now. He was always true to New Orleans Jazz.

Roy Gregory

29/06/21 -

Sad to hear of the passing of Gerry Owen. I haven’t played with him for a long time now and didn’t know he had been ill. I remember him as really nice N. Orleans style player and a very warm and friendly nice guy.

RIP. Gerry
Jim Lucas

29/06/21 -

Gerry was the clarinettist I played with most following my return to the jazz scene in the early 1980s. He was also the last one I played with before I departed to live in Spain. He was a lovely, gentle man, knew everything that was thrown at him, and came across as so laid back as to be horizontal. It was an honour to have played with him. I have many hours of New Orleans Express recordings with him alongside his old mucker Hughie Gerrard. Here’s one with Gerry playing “Hush-a-bye” as a solo.

Graham Martindale

29/06/21 -

So sad to hear of Gerry's passing. I've had the pleasure of playing alongside him quite a lot in the last few years & have always enjoyed being in his company.

Laurie Cooper.

30/06/21 -

Such sad news. A lovely gentle man. So many happy memories of him depping with the Savoy. He will be sorely missed.
Condolences to Kay and the family.

Peter Swensson.

30/06/21 -

We played a small tribute to Gerry last night with Roy Gregory's Band. 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' seemed most appropriate as Gerry and I doubled up on 'chariot' transport for the Llandudno Pier gig with The River City Jazz Band. Gerry loved his cricket.-He was a member at Lancashire CC. for several years. He was also a passionate Warrington Wolves rugby league fan and supported an obscure football team - Manchester City as I recall. Gerry and I pounded the pavements with several New Orleans style marching bands though sadly over recent years, his health didn't allow him to walk and play at the same time. A thoroughly gentle man in the true sense of the word. RIP Gerry Owen.

Ian Royle

30/06/21 -

I was very sorry to hear the sad news about Gerry, someone who, for me, Richard Knock captured perfectly when he spoke of his 'gentle presence'. I met him for the first time only twenty or so years ago, so others will certainly have known him better, but I always enjoyed his playing on both clarinet and alto and enjoyed his company both on stage and in the car en route to gigs. He had a great rapport with audiences and the well-deserved respect of his fellow musicians. Thanks for the memories Gerry, and my condolences to your family.

Keith Garner

30/06/21 -

Links to videos of Gerry with the Five Towns Footwarmers, at The Harp in Abrighton.

Canal Street Blues

Old Miss Rag 

Big Butter and Egg Man

Bugle Boy March

Gerry was one of the nicest men you could wish to meet and was always welcome at the Harp.

John Howell


Very sad news about Gerry, talking with him the last few months he seemed quite upbeat.

I have known and done countless gigs with Gerry over the past 50 years, an accomplished player good vocalist and altogether a lovely man who was keenly interested in the New Orleans jazz genre, he will be sadly missed.

Mal Horne

30/06/21 -

I played with Gerry many times in both parade bands and traditional jazz bands. He was a regular member of the Big Top Jazz Band when the band played for a number of years at the Willows in Salford.
Gerry was a lovely player and a lovely man. I will miss him.

Richard Slater


Very sad news. I remember Gerry well from 15 years with Derek Galloway’s Milneburg Boys in several Cheshire gigs

Apart from his superb sympathetic reeds playing, he was always pleasant company with hinterland beyond jazz such as birdwatching and Lancashire cricket. He was also very encouraging to me as an aspiring clarinet player with many helpful tips. A wonderful man all round . RIP

John Morton

01/07/21 -

Gerry has not played with New Orleans Wiggle for some time now but yes we have missed him on reeds on vocals and on smiles. Gerry and Pete Beaumont were a great combination on reeds and piano and were the driving force in the band as heard on the 'Over the Waves' CD recorded live at Keswick.  Gerry enjoyed the combination so much he drove over the Pennines in all weathers for many years to play with our team until his health deteriorated.  We pass on our condolences to his children.

Richard Lord
New Orleans Wiggle

The picture is taken at Leyburn Festival of Food and Drink wearing our Daleside Brewery sponsor's interesting T-shirts. - Richard Lord

02/07/21 -

I first met Gerry in the 1980s, we played together for a number of years with the Magnolia band.

We met up on many occasions after that and I always looked forward to playing with him in the

front line. Gerry was a very thoughtful musician, a great team player and a very nice man.

Dave Pogson

03/07/21 -

So sad to hear of Gerry’s demise. Nice to see so many tributes from his musician friends, to a lovely man and gifted reed player / vocalist in the New Orleans style.

I’m just a fan, who enjoyed listening to him playing with New Orleans Express, The Tuxedo, and depping with the Savoy. I was present at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, when he was depping with the Savoy, shown on your tribute page. Thanks, Gerry – R.I.P.

Terry Birkinhead

03/07/21 -

I was very sorry to learn of the passing of Gerry Owen. I was lucky enough to know Gerry for the last thirty years and as others have said he was one of the kindest, modest and gentle people one could meet.

When I first started playing the clarinet he was so encouraging, allowing me to sit in with a real band! Always for several numbers and doing some duets. Wherever he was playing I was always greeted with a smile and "have you got your horn with you?"

His knowledge of New Orleans jazz was vast, he was a great singer and MC. I will miss his thoughtful playing, sense of humour, friendship and mentorship. RIP Gerry and thank you for all that you did.

Duncan Ledsham.

04/07/21 -

Such sad news about Gerry Owen.

Gerry was a member of the Rivercity Jazzmen for over 30 years, and would travel to North Wales every week for regular gigs - the Wednesday night jazz club in Llandudno and Conwy, and on weekends throughout the summer on the Pier in Llandudno. We could always rely on Gerry; a kind gentleman. I will miss our telephone calls to discuss rugby, F1 and bird watching. We send our deepest condolences to his family.

Here's one of the band's (and family) favourite songs, showcasing Gerry's vocals - Rivercity Jazzmen's version of 'Old Fashioned Love':

Thank you Gerry for years of great music and friendship. You will be sorely missed.

Curly Jones.

05/07/21 -

I was sorry to learn of the death of Gerry Owen. I first became aware of him in the 1970s. I think he played with the Manchester Panama Band (though I also associate Dave Burke with that band), before joining Hugh Gerrard in establishing New Orleans Express. He stayed with NOE until its merger with the Tuxedo band (whose name was retained). He also depped every week for Tom Alker (I think it was Tom’s bridge night) on the French Quarter’s Tuesday residency at Fallowfield Bowling and Tennis Club. A tune from a recording of one such night (with Phil Mason guesting on cornet) was played at Les Moore’s funeral.

We were together for some years at Cotebrook’s Fox and Barrel with the Milenburg Boys (no, I don’t know the correct spelling of Milenburg either!) and a number of Bunter’s Imperials’ performances at the Altrincham Garrick.

Gerry was an excellent musician (his mother had been a piano teacher and probably gave him a good grounding) with knowledge of a wide range of tunes. While New Orleans music was his preferred genre, he could handle a variety of idioms, his alto playing differing somewhat in style from his clarinet work. He knew (most of) the words to many tunes, and on the announcement of the next number would often quietly say “I could sing this if you like”, an offer no bandleader was able refuse.

Highly knowledgeable and intelligent, his interests included football (Manchester City), cricket (Lancashire) and birdwatching – for the latter he would travel on organized twitchers’ holidays. I shall remember him as an interesting and laid-back musical companion.

Condolences to Kay, and to Katherine, David and Edward.

John Muskett


Jean and I send our sincerest condolences to Kay, Katherine, David and Edward.

For nearly 40 years I have been fortunate to have played with Gerry in various bands, including Hughie Gerrard’s New Orleans Express and the Tuxedo, and can add nothing to all those musicians who have already stated his musical knowledge and musicianship.

For me, Gerry was also a quiet person; studious with a laidback approach to life, honest and reliable with very much his own style of playing. I once said “that was a brilliant St Philip’s Street, but not as good as Gerry Owen” - to that I got a big smile and it is that smile I will always remember.
Good night Gerry RIP.

Brian Woods

07/07/21 -

With the passing of Gerry Owen, we have lost someone very special. - a modest, friendly, hugely talented and versatile reeds player whose solos and ensemble work could be spellbinding.

He did have one fault though: he wasn't very good at parallel parking. I have a vivid memory of a 1995 tour in the Netherlands with the New Orleans Express when, after several attempts, Gerry ended up with the front of his car at least a yard out from the kerb and the back even further out than that. An amazed Dutchman who had watched the proceedings asked me how he had ever passed a driving test, and I had to explain that parallel parking wasn't part of the test in England. (It is in Holland, but they're not very good at hill-starts!)

What I shall miss most about Gerry is his slow, hesitant, whispering, almost-conspiratorial manner of one-to-one conversation. I used to love that.

Helen joins me in offering our condolences to his family.
Allan Wilcox


I was very sad to hear that Gerry Owen had died, although I knew that he'd been unwell for some time. As so many people have said, Gerry was quite simply a lovely man,, quiet, unassuming, and laid-back, but passionate about the things which interested him, especially New Orleans-style jazz, in which he was steeped.

I first met Gerry in the '60s when I was a young lecturer at Manchester Polytechnic and he was one of the librarians. I remember him as friendly and helpful, qualities not always found behind a librarian's desk!. It was some years later that I met him in the jazz sphere, doing deps with New Orleans Express, which was of course led by another lovely man, trumpeter Hugh Gerrard. I well recall one time when I was playing at Glossop Jazz Festival and I enjoyed listening to a lovely set by New Orleans Express - gently relaxed and almost understated, with everyone dovetailing delightfully, like a kind of chamber jazz. Gerry,s clarinet was of course a vital part of this.

In the couple of years before lockdown, I again enjoyed doing quite a few deps with Gerry, this time with the Tuxedo Jazz Band. Again I found him warm and welcoming. But it was during a number of telephone conversations during lockdown that I felt I got to know Gerry a bit better, reminiscing about jazz and past gigs and talking about rugby league and his love of Manchester City. In these conversations, he made little mention of his illness and still spoke with enthusiasm about the things he enjoyed.

Rest in peace, Gerry.

Keith Allcock

23/08/21 -

It would be very hard to find anything nicer to say than the many accolades bestowed on Gerry Owen by his fellow musicians and friends. I would endorse them all.

I first met Gerry at The Black Lion, Salford. (Then a famous jazz pub) in 1962. He was dressed in a double breasted suit with twenty two inch bottom trousers. I think that it was his dad's de-mob suit, and he was made to wear it by his mother, who he was still living at the time. If you tried to speak with him on the telephone, she would insist on calling him Gerald.

In April 1971 Gerry and I travelled from Manchester to New Orleans and back without a word of disagreement between us. What he learned in those two weeks from listening to the Old Creole reed players who were actively playing at that time obviously had an influence on his playing style for the rest of his musical career.

R.I.P. Gerry.
Dave Donohoe


Sorry to hear of the loss of Gerry Owen although I never got to play with him. Players of similar instruments don't seem to cross paths as, when they're on one gig their counterparts are on another. I met him often at festivals and of course at the dreaded funerals. We often had long natters and greatly enjoyed his company.. His playing was always described to me as enjoyable and melodic, much respected amongst his colleagues. I'll seek recordings online. Sad to see our ranks diminishing especially as we are scattered by Covid.. Gerry's colleagues will have some great memories.

My sincere condolences to his family.
Howard Murray


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