Ken Duckers (6th Feb 1940 - 21st May 2015)

Photograph by Harold Troughton


Ken can be seen singing 'Yes Sir, That's My Baby' on this video introduced by Trevor Stent.
The video is taken from a Granada TV broadcast back in 1983 in Llandudno

28/05/15 - Dear Fred,  I always seem to be the bearer of bad news these days. I've just learned that Ken Duckers, the larger-than-life alto saxophone player with the Blue Magnolia Jass Orchestra for many years who later had a stint with Roy Potts' Five and a Penny, died last Thursday. As well as being a good player and a natural entertainer, Ken was something of an authority on the Duke Ellington Band, about which I understand he used to give illustrated lectures. The funeral will take place in Walton Lea Crematorium, Chester Road, Walton, Warrington WA4 6TB, on Tuesday 9th June, at 1.00pm

Allan Wilcox

01/06/15 -

So sorry to read about Ken Ducker's passing. I played with him during our combined time with the Blue Mags, and he was certainly one of the major characters among several!

Mike McCombe

04/06/15 -

I was very upset to learn of Ken’s passing. When Jon Critchley left the Blues Mags for the Panama in 1972,  Ken Sims wanted to keep the powerful four in the front-line sound and asked Ken to join us on sax.

Ken had not long returned from a professional stint in London with an RnB group and his massive presence on stage immediately gave the band a huge impact. He was the epitome of a “larger than life” character and his personality shone through every performance. However, he was a lot more than a “character”, Ken was an extremely fine musician with great technique and a fine ear. His solos on alto were always inventive and melodic; he was not a player who ever relied on “clichés”. Whether we were playing in a top festival or TV studio or in a rough working man’s club, Ken always insisted on his music being original and top quality. He was superb on tenor sax too, where his RnB background produced wonderful robust, booting solos and there were also forays with the clarinet; his scat singing invariably brought the house down. Ken did most of the arrangements for the Blue Mags and had considerable musical knowledge.

To some extent it was this deep understanding and love of music of many styles that caused Ken considerable frustration. He had wider interests than the repertoires of most of the bands he played with could provide. Latterly he developed an intense interest in Duke Ellington whose music provided the colours and variety that were missing from the music he played live. His ability to adapt musically made him one of the most popular and widely used “deps” in the North West.

Aside from his music, Ken’s personality, and constant chatter enlivened every dressing room, every band wagon, every interval drink when he was present. He had a superb relationship with the audience on and off the stage and would talk, madly, to all and sundry. He was kind, generous and open with everyone, almost to the point of naiveté. He was built like an ox and had a heart to match. The host of hilarious anecdotes about his antics will live on in North West jazz folk lore for a long time and, as someone who shared the stage with him for three or more gigs a week over twenty years, I will never forget Ken. Our thoughts at this time are obviously with Lyn, Ian and Paul, the family to whom he was devoted.

Trevor Stent

14/06/15 -

It was only when I learned of Ken's death that I realised how much I had missed him since I left The Blue Mags after 18 years. For the first few years we travelled together and finished the journeys as manic as one another-language far too blue to report in your blog! However two high points I can report were of Ken (who was fascinated by the Muppets, Swedish cook) performing a complete Muppet Show on a canal trip in s'Hertogenbosch to the bafflement and delight of our Dutch hosts.

Then there was another trip to Holland where Ken realised he had left his passport at home and we had arranged to meet the band at Knutsford services. No mobiles then, but we managed to get a message to the band in the services car park saying we would meet up with them in Dover. We went down the M6 etc. and by London decided to stop for a swift half! As we walked into the first real ale pub we had seen on the route,  who should we meet in the back room but the rest of the band, who had reasoned exactly the same!

Probably the high spot for the band was the show we did for I. T. V
on the bandstand in Llandudno. There were plans for a series called "Music on the Water" with the band on ferries, canal boats etc. but it never materialised. However extracts are still on You Tube and your website, of the 6 numbers which we did and which reappear like a recurrent dream. Ironically we retired to Llandudno and I still play with the River City Jazz Men on the pier. The memories are still there, so thanks Ken, for sharing part of your life with us.

Bob Hambleton


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