Peter Stafford died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Little Lever, Bolton, in the early hours of Friday, October 24th. He was 81. The cause of death is still to be determined but he suffered from cancer of the kidneys and bladder, hardening of the arteries and also had a heart condition. He bore it all stoically and always fended off questions about his health. He was attended by his daughters, Judith and Clare, and a neighbour whose long-time care was greatly appreciated.

Peter was one of the area's most devoted and enthusiastic jazz fans. A competent pianist who could sight-read song copies and played for events at the school where he taught, he had no ambitions to be a jazz player. “I know my limitations,” he used to say. Instead, he busied
himself in the world of record collecting and attended as many jazz sessions as he could. He sold a treasure trove of 78's years ago and concentrated on LP's and, later, compact discs.

Together with his wife, Joan, he travelled to major jazz events at Nice and New York and was a regular at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival through it palmy years. He supported the jazz parties at Blackpool and Norwich and got to as many local sessions as he could. He was well-known to other fans and many famous musicians. He grew up in jazz alongside trombonist Roy Williams, who also lived in the Bolton area, and was a close friend of the members of the Alex Welsh Band, notably John Barnes, Roger Nobes and Alex himself. Visiting American stars who were entertained at Peter's home include Wild Bill Davison, Art Hodes, BobWinter and Ed Polcer.

Peter was also a keen cricketer and holds all the wicket-keeping records in the Bolton League, surpassing the record of most “victims” which had been held by his friend of many years, Arthur Crook, another keen jazz enthusiast. When the Welsh Band formed a cricket team to play charity matches, Peter was called on to perform behind the stumps. Other “ringers” roped in by Alex were Yorkshire's Don Wilson and Phil Sharpe. There was an annual match against a team of footballers organised by Jimmy Greaves and this side included such famous names as Brooking, Lampard, Best, Peters, Clyde, Lyall and Beal. Let it be said that Williams and Barnes both bowled left arm and looked the part while Nobes proved to be a very useful medium-pacer.

After giving up the gloves, Peter became secretary of the League, then chairman and later, President. For years he produced single-handedly the League handbook which was generally regarded as a local Wisden.

His love of jazz encompassed many styles from its New Orleans origins, through dixieland, mainstream, big band and some of the more modern players. He always had a soft spot for pianists. His absence from the scene over the last year has puzzled many although it was widely known that Peter was a sick man. We have missed his good company and erudite comments on the music and Jazz has lost a learned and enthusiastic non-playing captain.


08/11/14 -

Can I add to Clarrie Henley’s Obituary comments on Peter Stafford? Peter had supported live jazz in the Bolton area (and the Blackpool and Norwich Jazz Parties) for many years. I got to know him quite well during Café Olé’s eight or nine year residency from 2001 at The Thatch and Thistle, Blackrod where he was a regular listener. He attended with Marie Crook, Arthur’s widow, and Meryl and I had many interesting conversations with them both in the intervals. He had also been present (though I didn’t know him properly then) at the several annual jazz sessions organised at Clarrie’s home in the early 1990s featuring guitarist/singer Marty Grosz, which I was fortunate to play on. From his wide collection he lent me a number of CDs and videos. I had also encountered him at the Rhythm Station (when at Rawtenstall) and most recently (though about three years ago) at Horwich RMI. His typically modest nature meant that I was not aware of his illustrious cricket career. Meryl and I will miss him.

Peter’s funeral will be on Wednesday 12th November, 10.00 am, at Our Lady of Lourdes RC Church, Plodder Lane, Farnworth, BOLTON, BL4 0BR followed by an 11.30 am committal at Overdale Crematorium (West Chapel), Chorley New Road, BOLTON BL1 5BU with light refreshments afterwards at Bradshaw Cricket Club, BOLTON, BL2 3EL.

John Muskett

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