Last updated Thursday November 05, 2020 at 14:28:55

Peter Beaumont
RIP 22nd Oct 2020


Pete Beaumont pianist, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.

I received a phone call today from one of Pete’s sons telling me that his father had just quietly passed away in Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Pete has not been playing his Alton Purnell influenced style of New Orleans jazz since he had a mini stroke on stage with New Orleans Wiggle some years ago.

Apart from his student years Pete lived nearly all his life in Holmfirth and was very entertaining when telling stories about the escapades of local characters who were far more hilarious and wacky than any of the characters filmed locally in ‘Last of the Summer Wine’.

Pete was dedicated to early New Orleans music and the musicians and although classically trained he loved the earthiness of dance hall bands and their ensemble playing. He once told me that we of the rhythm section should not be heard apart from in solos, we were there to lay down a foundation for the front line to sit back on.

He used to recount how, when he was working in Southampton and playing in a band down there, they used to play in a harbour pub and also on a tour boat – they borrowed the piano from the pub for the boat sessions. As they were loading the piano onto the boat one day, the swell caused the boat to rock away from the harbour wall and - you can guess where the piano went! And probably still is.

When I first came across Pete he was playing with Jeff Milner’s Jassmen in Huddersfield with John Hummerstone tpt. and Roger Kenworthy bass. When their drummer left I bought his beautifully painted kit and took over that role.

Before that Pete had played in Oldham with the Magnolia Jazz Band with Dave Pogson, Barry Wood, Gerry Owen, Gabe Essien and Jack Jenkinson and then a long stint in Prestwich.

The Magnolia Band later played for years in Gildersome, West Yorkshire.

I probably got invited to join Dennis Browne’s Creole Band in Altrincham simply because I could drive and Pete could not so Pete, John Hummerstone and I completed many car journeys together with Pete airing strong views on music and on politics. This band had the unusual line-up of piano, banjo and drums at the back and trumpet with 2 reeds at the front, John Brunton taking a mainly saxophone role with Martin Bennett helping out on trombone on some great occasions.

Dennis was so keen to keep Pete in his band that he bought an upright piano, a cover and a trailer and we carried the piano into venues. When the trailer broke down on the way to Castleton Gabriel’s Jazz Club 2 police men helped lift it off the ground to help mend a puncture.

Pete was also a member of the Dave Donohoe Band who had a residency in Delph. Because Pete was a full time physics teacher he missed out on playing with Dave’s Band in Europe.

When Dave D. moved to Scotland the band in Delph morphed into Spirit of New Orleans and Pete continued in the piano role.

Since New Orleans Wiggle formed in Holmfirth, we have used a variety of guest musicians over the many years: the late John Pashley, John Brunton, Nick Kirk, Jeff Milner, Dave Aspinwall, Mike Taylor, Richard Slater, Eric Brierley, Frank Brooker, Howard Murray, Gerry Smith, Frank Brooker, Annie Hawkins and John Muskett, Pete Whitehead, Martin Bennett.

Until Pete became too ill to play he was at the centre of our band, so knowledgeable but modest , his unique style influencing and supporting the rest of the team.

Pete’s old steam piano, as he called it, is still being played - he gave it to my sister !
Pete has been such a major influence in my musical life.

Richard Lord

24/10/20 -

I would like to endorse Richards excellent eulogy on Pete Beaumont and the times the three of us shared transport to gigs.

There were the sessions at the Altrincham Malt Shovel after which we packed up and left promptly to catch a local chippy just at closing time.

We consumed bags of chips outside . After awhile a makeshift table was contrived using a large waste bin, complete with table cloth glasses and drinks---much more civilised.

Another incident with that trailer loaded with the piano was when , en route to a gig the chassis began to collapse allowing a wheel to catch fire.

The piano was saved and I still have the trailer although its now rather a

“Gabriels Broom” with major rebuild.

John Hummerstone

24/10/20 - 

I was sad to hear of the passing of Pete Beaumont, he was local to me in nearby Holmfirth. He was the piano man in Riverside Jazzmen with me on trumpet good memories of many gigs in our area. He travelled with me to all our gigs as he didn’t drive and had some amusing tales to tell, a sad loss to our scene.

Rest in peace.

Roger Wimpenny ( Tame Valley Stompers)

26/10/20 -

So it must be nearly 60 years since I first met Pete, I had just come out from my National service and was about to join Jeff Milner's Jazz band. It was obvious from the start who the most talented member of the band was Pete. It was very early days, the musicians were enthusiastic rather then accomplished. Jeff layed down the policy and Pete provided the Rhythm and easy style. Since then I have always had a piano in any of the bands I have led and before I took on any gigs I always made sure I rang Pete first. So why Pete?. For me and our style of New Orleans Music Pete was simply the best, He knew most of the tunes, the keys and the tempos and rarely used chords. Any new tunes, suggestions or requests he just took in his stride and made it easy for the band to develop and relax. One of his many sayings was "take it easy man". During the almost 60 years and many thousands of miles we travelled together we would discuss music and other pianists, Jelly Roll Morton, Count basie and Jerry Lee Lewis cropped up as heroes but you only had to listen to a few notes before you knew Alton Purnell was his first choice, Pete was brilliant at being Alton Purnell.

Early days with Pete was with the Jeff Milner band, I left the band to concentrate on family and work and then bumped into Dave Donohoe at a Dan Pawson concert, Dave asked me to come and play with his band in Oldham where I met many of the Lancashire based musicians and joined Les Moore, Denis Brown and Jack Jenkinson. Jack and I then formed the Magnolia Band and asked Pete, Barry Wood and Roger Kenworthy to became the new rhythm section along with Gerry Owen and later on Gabe Essien on reeds. In recent years this band became The Spirit of New Orleans with Mal Horne, Bill Evans John Brunton Mike Taylor, John Muskett, or Jim Swinnerton Myself and Pete.

I have played with Pete in many bands including the Dave Donohoe band and the Dave Brennan band, I know both bands held Pete in great regard.

I think Andrew Liddle said most of what I would like to say about Pete as a Pianist, and I have included it below from this web site. I will remember Pete as a great musician and friend. -

"Pete's particularly attractive style of piano playing, unobtrusive, supportive and Blues-orientated, is more that of the great Alton Purnell, than of Jelly Roll, although he justifiably claims both as major influences. Whilst still at school, back in 1960, he formed his first band along with Rod Chambers, before joining Jeff Milner. Over the years, Pete has delighted audiences with his beautifully crafted solos and bravura passages of boogie, while playing for the Magnolia and for some exceptional bands fronted by the late Dennis Brown, Dave Donohoe and Dave Brennan. Much of his time, these days, is taken up with New Orleans Wiggle" - Andrew Liddle.

Would it be possible to add our recording of Chimes Blues which was one of the bands most requested tunes when we did the Jazz clubs and Pete’s own version which always made the room go silent and made people listen.

Click here if you don't see the player

Dave Pogson

29/10/20 -

For countless years (several decades!) my dad John Brunton and our whole family spent every Friday night at Delph Jazz club, first with Dave Donohoe’s band and then with the Spirit of New Orleans. Among the many talented musicians on stage I was always deeply moved by Peter Beaumont’s piano playing. Peter had a very unique style. He played with a deep blues and swing feel but also with a little dissonance and quirky rhythms reminiscent of Thelonious Monk. For me Peter’s subtle modern jazz contribution was the icing on the cake making The Spirit of New Orleans one of the most exciting bands in the genre. Thanks Peter for all these years of musical pleasure you brought us, my sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Gary Brunton

05/01/20 -

I was really sorry to hear of Pete's illness and passing. I have many fond memories playing gigs with Pete, my dad (John Brunton), the Spirit of New Orleans and other formations too, but mainly Fridays at Delph.

I always made sure I sat with my guitar by the side of Pete so I could hear his chords, always feeling that I was learning the great old tunes from a master of the style. His deep knowledge of the music was inspiring, he knew SO many tunes, playing with a lovely rhythmic sense and a slightly modern touch, that always gelled with the guitar/banjo. Looking back, I now really appreciate how encouraging he always was to me.
He was always good for a chat usually lamenting the situation of our respective football teams, Pete- Middlesborough, me - Burnley.

Great times !!

R.I.P Pete. My deepest sympathy to his family. I’m sure they will know how highly regarded he was as a musician and person by everybody who played with him.

John Lee Brunton


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