Maurice Pike
Died on 12th April 2014

Photograph supplied by Howard Parr


13/04/14 - Tony Dunleavy writes - Mary Pike has just rang to say that Maurice passed away last night and asked if I would let you know. She said that she would let me know when she has the Funeral details. (Maurice Pike was the leader of the Manchester based Panama Jazz Band - FB)

Maurice made an early entrance into music by playing snare drum with his local Boys’ Brigade Band but it was some time later (aged 17) that he got into conversation with Humphrey Lyttelton at a jazz club who encouraged him to go out and buy a trumpet - an old Selmer Invicta. Lessons from Fred Kelly, of the Northern Dance Orchestra, followed but he relied very much on an excellent memory rather than the “dots” and there came a parting of the ways. Hence, he was mainly self taught. A couple of years later there were many bands about - part of the so-called “Trad Boom” - so Maurice joined a student band over in Sheffield. This soon folded: he and a colleague set up their own band - the Panama Jazz Band - in March, 1953. Maurice trained as a textile designer but the down-turn in the industry led to a move into a clerical position in engineering, allowing him to spend his leisure time playing with and organising his band. Ever resourceful, as the Beatles era ousted that of the traditional jazz revival, he moved into the Working Men’s Club circuit and kept the band in the public eye.

A pen portrait by Colin Mason, Aug 2012

14/04/14 -

What very sad news about Maurice Pike! Before gigs, and often on the way to them, if Maurice picked me up for Panama Jazz Band gigs (the Manchester one), we'd sit howling with laughter at his Goons cassettes; he'd have a dozen or so in the car, to put us in the right kind of mood for playing. When I last saw him, Maurice was in Crumpsall (North Manchester General Hospital). He didn't recognise me at all at first; but he somehow knew that he knew me at some time. When it registered - and it was only a momentary thing on two or three occasions during my visits, he grasped my hand with both of his, holding really tightly. I purposefully mentioned people who would have been important to him as musicians, to see if something registered. The names were: Johnny Barnes, Roy Williams and Pat Halcox. At each mention, he said "I know that name".

14/04/14 -

I was so sad to read Tony Dunleavy’s message about the passing of Maurice Pike. About 14 years ago, Maurice, a lovely man, was the first person to let me break into the N.W. Jazz scene, by playing with his Panama Jazz Band, at a short-lived residency in Urmston.. Co-incidentally, Tony Dunleavy was instrumental in my obtaining a second residency, with Frank Fonseca, in Eccles. Condolences to Maurice’s wife and family. -

Frank Slater

14/04/14 -

What very sad news about Maurice Pike! Before gigs, and often on the way to them, if Maurice picked me up for Panama Jazz Band gigs (the Manchester one), we'd sit howling with laughter at his Goons cassettes; he'd have a dozen or so in the car, to put us in the right kind of mood for playing. When I last saw him, Maurice was in Crumpsall (North Manchester General Hospital). He didn't recognise me at all at first; but he somehow knew that he knew me at some time. When it registered - and it was only a momentary thing on two or three occasions during my visits, he grasped my hand with both of his, holding really tightly. I purposefully mentioned people who would have been important to him as musicians, to see if something registered. The names were: Johnny Barnes, Roy Williams and Pat Halcox. At each mention, he said "I know that name".

Joe Silmon

14/04/14 -

Dear Fred, I was sorry to read of Maurice's passing, I was lucky to play with him circa 1968-9 while a surgical registrar at Park Hospital, Urmston, along with Tony Dunleavy, we also 'served' with Tony Vincent's band in Surrey earlier. -

Mike Walmsley


My first meeting with Maurice was as a result of going to see the Kirk Joverson Band in a gig on the moors.

On arrival there was a notice that most of the band had been struck down with Asian flu and Eric Batty's Jazz Aces were playing and I had my trombone as I was going to play duets with Bob Livesey. I saw Maurice on the way out and he said... Hi Man ,is that a trombone, so I replied....It sure isn't a mouth organ!...Maurice gave me a lift home and a couple of months later asked to meet at the Manchester Arms and I was asked to join the Panama.

I have been in touch with him all through the years, although I moved away from the area.  Maurice knew every tune that was ever written ,he was very fair in the pay he gave to his band, and sometimes probably went without himself.

He always had a smile...In fact, a thoroughly decent chap.  -

Alan Thomas

22/04/14 -

So sorry to hear of the sad passing of Maurice Pike, that well-known Manchester musician. Maurice was one of the guys who gave me the opportunity of playing in a band when I was new to the Northern scene after I moved up here, not having played for about 15 years. On the occasions when we went to gigs in the same car, Maurice was always full of hilarious tales about bands he had played in, gigs in outrageous places, and musicians who have also since left us. He will be sadly missed.

Noel Broadgate

By Joe Silmon-Monerri 28th April 2014

Dear old Maurice Pike, leader of what eventually became the Panama Dixieland Jazz Band, left us all on Saturday 12th April 2014. He was 81, having been born in 1933. Maurice had been suffering from Dementia for many months. Thanks, Tony Dunleavy and Fred Burnett, for letting us all know. He leaves his wife Mary, daughter Melanie, son David and grandchildren by both of his children. Mary Pike had passed Tony the original sad message, which he promptly relayed to Fred Burnett.

Not having grown up or been to school with Maurice, as we lived in different countries while that was happening, I know very little about his early life and what sparked off the earliest parts of his Jazz career, although Mary Pike, his widow, was able to provide snippets from about 1959-60 onwards, from about the time that they first met. Also to the rescue, comes Colin Mason, who suggested that Maurice started up in music by first playing military-style snare-drum with his local Boy's Brigade band. By age 17, one evening, in conversation with Humphrey Lyttelton at a Jazz club, the great man encouraged him to go out and buy a trumpet. He bought an old Selmer "Invicta" and had lessons from Fred Kelly of the NDO, according to Colin. Realising he was more of a busker than a reader, albeit with a good memory for the tunes, he quit the lessons. Mainly self-taught, he joined a student band in Sheffield. At this point the story becomes very vague. One can only assume that, as in the case of most of us, he did many practice sessions with close friends before launching out on a serious Jazz career. Maurice's wife, Mary, didn't know him either in those days, as we shall see below. However, she did say that Maurice was always a keen cyclist, and that he cycled everywhere in those days, and had probably done so to Sheffield.

I thought I would find some mentions of Maurice's early bands from Alan Stevens's "Jazz Roundabout" articles in the Manchester Evening News, which I have, as I inherited his scrap books. Or, at least, his early involvement in putting bands together, or joining others for experience. All articles are scrupulously dated. But, having checked right up to the end of 1960 so far, from as far back as the suggested 1952, which is also when Alan Stevens started to write for the M. E. N., as either "Jack Florin" or in his own name, or "Stephen Lane", in the M. E. Chronicle, and when many of the well known local bands were just forming, I found nothing about Maurice or the "Panama".

Of course, in the early days of any of us on the Manchester Jazz scene, little would be officially known about individual musicians or bands until we started being 'noticed' by "Jack Florin" in his above articles, or by "Dave Duke" (Doug Ennefer), in the "Chron" or the Stockport Advertiser, or got flagged in one of Alan's famous "solo spot" images. Steve Voce also wrote about us from time to time. Alan Stevens's 'discoveries' usually entailed an appointment with the 'Features' editors and official Press photographers at the old M. E. N. offices on the corner of Cross St. in those days, besides impromptu visits by Alan or other critics to the clubs. Two or three years might have passed before we reached that stage of Jazz "Nirvana" and 'recognition at last'. Really brilliant rising stars were always spotted quickly, and there were always references to the pioneers of the Manchester Jazz Revival of 1942 (earlier than Graeme Bell's London effort, as it all started up here by Harry Giltrap, when he set up the Delta Rhythm Kings in 1942 and the Smoky City Stompers a few years later, with the help of clarinettist/vocalist Eric Lister). Derek Atkins, Barry Schumm, Merton Kaufman, Merton Cahm and Ken Wray, were among the first wave of the Revival. In the second wave, we find: Joe Palin, Roy Williams, Johnny Barnes, Keith Pendlebury, Doug Whaley, Sheila Collier, Gordon Robinson, Alan Hare, Des Hopkins, Moe Green, John Mayall (and his father, Murray Mayall), Mart Rodger, Randy Colville, Dave Mott, Allan Dent, Eric Welch, Dave Browning and a handful of others, were very soon noticed. The rest of us, including Maurice and people like me, would have to wait until we were worth noticing.

However, apparently, Maurice was alleged to have set up the Panama Dixieland Jazz Band in 1953, when he was training as a Textile Designer, according to one contributor on Fred Burnett's fantastic and rapidly growing website - But, Mary would disagree with the Textile Design comment. I would too, it was too early in his career. Therefore, it must have been another band that Maurice and his friend set up in 1953, or was probably an early version of the same band that caused no excitement at the time. Mary is convinced that the Panama started at least 5 or 6 years later, by which time we find the band performing on Sunday sessions at the Navigation Hotel, Lancashire Hill, Stockport, a famous haunt for local Jazz.

In 1959, Maurice was twenty-six years old. Mary was taken to the Navigation Hotel, either that year or the following, by a couple who were regular fans at that venue, which featured most of the Manchester and Stockport-based Jazz bands on several nights of the week. She was attracted by the man, not the Jazz! - Mary stated. It all started from there. Mary, by her own admission, was never really a Jazz fan, but almost immediately became an avid fan of Maurice himself, and they were married in 1961. He was a very good organiser, and a real live-wire, unable to keep still for too long, for fear that grass might grow under his feet. He led bands very well too, and handled the daily trials and tribulations that go with running groups and arranging for deputising musicians, better than most. He was always good as a 'gig-fixer', but was also always noted for being scrupulously honest in his dealings regarding musicians' fees at the end of gigs. Maurice was held in high esteem by the armies of musicians who he employed semi-professionally in his band over the years and decades. I know, as I was one of them.

Mike Walmsley, a former Surgical Registrar at Park Hospital, Urmston, who sent his condolences to Mary and family via Fred's site, said "I was lucky to play with him circa 1968-9 while along with Tony Dunleavy, we also 'served' with Tony Vincent's band in Surrey earlier". The late Don Ashworth, trombonist during the earlier years of the band, also had pleasant things to say about Maurice and the band. I remembered, eventually, one night at Tommy Duck's, when I was part of the regular line-up - must have been the 80s, seeing Don come on stage and pull out his trombone, playing as if he'd never left. A fine trombonist with a wonderful style. In the 60s and 70s, the world of Traditional Jazz (not that the Panama was restricted to particular styles), the distinct lack of gigs, due to the 60s slump in Jazz work, was still having its effect. Maurice cleverly kept the band employed semi-professionally by booking it into working men's clubs and pubs. Over the decades, the turnover in sidemen in the Panama Dixieland Jazz Band included the following, although this is, by no means, the entire list: Frank Fonseca, Vernon Hyde, Peter Watts, Howard Parr, John Gordon (gtr/banjo); Don Ashworth, Don Long, Les Allison, Paul Medina, Tony Dunleavy, Frank Slater, Pete Ward (tbn); Wally Davis, Roy Rodgers, Dave Burke, Dave Mott, Jim Galloway, Barry Aldous, myself (clt/saxes, etc.); Tony Pollitt, Barry Aldous, Mike Dexter, Pete Smith, Ian Entwhistle, Pete Taylor, Paul Medina (d/bss, bss gtr); Moe Green, Dick Nancarrow, Gordon Clay, Bill Bradley, Mike Blakey, Ronnie Arnold (dms); [deps. for Maurice]: Mick Crichton, John Tucker, Denis Gilmore, Ian Royle, Bill Smith (tpt/cnt, etc.); [on keyboards, a rarity in the Panama]: Barrie Quilliam and occasionally Noel Broadgate.

Bassist Jon White recalls: "After getting up to speed playing along with records for a bit, one night at the Black Lion the Panama turned up with no bass player; when I told Maurice (Pike) I'd got one he said well go and get it! The banjo player lent me his 'chord book' and I enjoyed it so much I forgot to order any beer, so I drank one of those on the piano top. Never did again, but I was truly hooked, and got asked for my phone number. I've still got my 'gigbook' full of names, but try ringing Didsbury 443 and see how far you get ! I hung up my 'plank' in 83 when we moved back to retire in Yorkshire, and took up the keyboard, which I play and communicate with others on the net." (Jon White - from Jazznorthwest ... Reminiscing")

The 1970s and 80s were probably Maurice Pike's heyday. Always keeping to the same band line-up- albeit with many changes of personnel over the decades as stated above - Maurice was able to preserve continuity and a fresh sound in a band that was amusing as well as entertaining. He himself had a great sense of Goonish humour and an excellent microphone technique for vocals as well as amusing quips. There were many of the latter. The frequent changes in personnel were the main cause of the fresh sound. When the band secured a Sunday evening residency at Tommy Duck's pub, a semi-bohemian haunt that was also frequented by local thespians and visiting actors, some of whom sang or recited songs with the band, Maurice felt sufficiently safe to hire the services of London-based guest musicians, such as the late Pat Halcox, John Barnes and Roy Williams, etc. At those times, as Alan Thomas rightly suggests, he probably dipped into his own wallet to pay the extra-high fees that would be needed for such guests. Fortunately, although in his teens and early 20s, he was eventually unable to secure a position in Textile Design for which he had studied for many months in Manchester and Sheffield, he did land an excellent position as an Engineering Estimator, eventually in charge of his own department at Mather & Platt's engineering works in North Manchester, from which Maurice retired at age sixty-five. Shortly after that, he made a come-back into clerical work, obtaining 'Temping' jobs, in which, his various facets of expertise won him awards for accuracy and commitment, even in his 70s, such was his dedication to duty.

Before that, I had played with the Panama, mainly in the 80s, on out-of-town gigs as well as the Sunday evenings at Tommy Duck's, and even when I was a student at the University of Manchester. One gig was at the University in approximately 1985, my final year. There were also some Sunday sessions at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, in the Cafeteria end.

More recently, in the early part of the Millennium, Maurice also made a come-back into Jazz having left it during the 80s, and rejoined it in the same decade. While still at Tommy Duck's for Sunday evening sessions at the "knickers" pub (of which, more later), during his come-back he brought the above guest musicians on two separate occasions at great expense. They were memorable sessions, as one might expect, not only for the audience, but also for the band. I was in it at that time, and we all had a ball!!! But I wasn't there when, in May 1993, they played their last session. I was working as a Senior Technical Linguist Officer for H. M. Government in Gloucestershire at the time; I remember that the news was devastating. At that time - the demolition of Tommy Duck's pub, that had been home to Maurice Pike's Panama Dixieland Jazz Band for around fifteen glorious years - the lineup was: Maurice (tpt./ldr), Les Alison or ...? Wilson (tbn), Dave Burke (clt/bari sx), Frank Fonseca (gtr), Barry Aldous (d/bss), Gordon Clay (drs). Barrie Quilliam, around at the time for certain sessions, was more involved in the 2000s. Maurice eventually retired from playing Jazz altogether, by the end of 2003, during a session at Chorlton Conservative Club, where the band had been resident for some considerable time on a fortnightly basis (Thursdays).

Just months before he retired, Frank Slater (trombone) and myself were at a gig in Urmston. That was where the band was about to capitulate, through lack of attendance, despite the fact that the band sounded possibly better than ever. Other members of the band that evening in 2003, apart from Frank, Maurice and me, were: Dave Parr (gtr/bjo), Barrie Quilliam (kbds) and Bill Bradley (dms), and Pete Smith [?]. We turned up at another venue shortly afterwards, where the management informed Maurice just as the band entered the venue to play, that we were not required. We hadn't even played there once, so it was not as though they didn't like the sound!!! Maurice was very disheartened after that, and must have finally decided that it really was time to quit. But he had made hundreds if not thousands of sincere, supportive and wonderful friends along the way of a distinctly colourful Jazz career, at every step.

May I extend my own condolences along with those of everyone on the Manchester Jazz Scene and those who had the honour and privilege to know and perform, or enjoy a chat or a drink, or share a Goon-type joke with the incredible and unforgettable Maurice Pike, to Mary, Melanie and Family and to David and Family. We're all thinking of you at this sad time; but knowing Maurice, I feel certain that the last thing that he would want, would be for his Family and Friends to be unhappy.

May he rest in the Peace of the Risen Lord.

Joe Silmon-Monerri

Tommy Ducks is Dead
Photograph reproduced from JAZZ TIMES" (82nd Edn., April 1993).

They sneaked in at night to thump his old timbered frame to the ground.

Those of us who began our lives in Manchester have learned as a new Manchester has taken over the old, a love for the city we knew, the old buildings, the people of the rows of terraced houses, aye, backyards and ginnels too, the dance halls and the old pubs - best pubs in the world. As a relic of the past, as part of our heritage, we loved you Tommy Ducks.

You were very old and had seen more changes than we have. The folk you sheltered when you were but part of a row of quaint cottages have long since gone, and their kinsfolk too over many generations. Your ghost will live to tell some stories. Do you, I wonder, remember when your steps were donkey-stoned every morning? I remember the rag'n'bone man used to supply our donkey stones, in exchange for a few rags, although sometimes we would get a little diver - put him in a bottle of water, hold a finger over the top and he'd go down and come up again when the finger was lifted. The buildings may have been black with soot, there may have been smog in the air, but back street Manchester wasn't half proud of its stoned steps and sills. Remember when beer was so cheap there were drunks on every pavement? Remember the Alms Houses and the lunatic asylums?

But better times - remember those lovely nights of jazz, fifteen years or so with the Panama Jazz Band? And the special nights when Roy Williams and John Barnes came home as guests of the band? We almost crushed your seams then and took your roof off, but wasn't it great? - no door charge, pork pies and butties on the house - such happy times. Remember Bob who sold Jazz Times and raffle tickets? No-one escaped Bob. Sadly, he too came to a violent end - in a road accident. Another time you almost came to harm was when the `show respect to females' or whatever they call themselves brigade demonstrated their disgust at the knickers on your ceiling. Pin the knickers you're wearing on the ceiling in exchange for a pair of Tommy Ducks' knickers - it was all in fun and good trade too because it brought in the tourists!

You've come through struggles and battles, through the destruction of wars and progress. You have stood firm whilst all around has been tumbled and replaced by ugly buildings. You survived to fit in with the new, looking a treat in your black and white with `Tommy Ducks' in large proud letters on your gable end. You adapted to the change of yet another age - youngsters, students, modern jazz. We nursed a hope of getting dixieland jazz back to you, hut all hopes have now been killed.

It is all over. Your history, our love, meant nowt to 'em Tommy, except as obstacles to the gains of the valuable land you stood on. It is no comfort to us folk of Manchester that yet another sickening office block will rise from the grave of Tommy Ducks.

H. Manford

Montage by Joe Silmon

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