04/11/12 - Dear Fred, It is
with deep regret I inform you of the death yesterday of my dear
pal and wonderful drummer Pete Staples. Pete was a founder
member of Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz in 1983 and retired from
the band, and playing, in 2001. Pete was offered the position of
drummer in Humphrey Lyttelton's band in the 1960s but turned it
down as he didn't fancy the professional life. However, he did
play on Humph's LP "21 Years On" which was recorded in 1969 at
the Conway Hall. I will let you have the funeral details later
in the week when I have made the arrangements". - Mart Rodger,
This very sad news has rocked
me to my foundations. Please thank Mart Rodger for letting us all
know via your site. Word of mouth doesn't necessarily work nowadays,
as there isn't a joined-up scene, as in the good-old-days, except
when we all meet up on such sad occasions as this, to see our dearly
departed friends off. I haven't a great deal to write here. I never
knew anything about his private life or about his family, but always
thought the world of Pete Staples as a warm, friendly person, a
great Jazz mate and a fabulously inventive and all-round drummer. He
could be utterly unintrusive when the Jazz mood demanded it, or as
brash or as large as life when that mood presented itself in the
music. But, in my estimation, he was a top-flight performer with
highly professional approach to his finely tuned craft. I'll try to
say as much as I can muster off the top of my head.
Pete was the sort of person you expect will live forever; always
jovial, full of jokes, and forever giving the impression that he
didn't have a care in the world; although, of course, everyone
realised that he cared a great deal about his Jazz and his drumming,
and people. I first came across Pete, in the late 50s and early 60s.
He was with the Red River Jazz Band then. Then for a long time
during the 60s and 70s he was with the various Gordon Robinson
outfits, helping Gordon to win Jazz awards up and down Britain and
in Montreux, Switzerland. One very amusing incident occurred when
the band was at the Montreux Jazz Festival. One of the Swiss
organisers, who was liaising with the sound engineers, arranging the
continuity between bands, asked Pete at what point Gordon's band was
going to be ready to step out on stage. Pete replied, in his broad
"Just give us the wire, cock!"
The Swiss organiser is probably still asking himself what this
meant? To Pete, the tune "Strangers in the Night" translated as
"Strangers in My Pint" and "Stranger on the Shore" became "Stranger
on the Floor". There were many more.
During the mid-70s, he and the late Pete Taylor (bassist) were
chosen to back blind pianist Eddie Thompson at Friday sessions at
the Warren Bulkeley Hotel in Mersey Square, Stockport. Eddie won the
BBC's Pianist of the Year Award during that decade, and was without
a doubt one of the finest Jazz pianists in this country, featured
many times in the USA Jazz circuits. His stature in Jazz was very
high. It was certainly the right choice to have head-hunted these
two fantastic sidemen; not just for Eddie, but for the hundreds of
fans that the Trio would eventually gather in. Although Pete didn't
read drum music, Eddie saw in Pete that he had an all-time winner.
Of course, Pete Taylor was no slouch either, and when Eddie
frequently, unexpectedly and drastically changed key in the middle
of a tune - sometimes 3 or 4 times in the one tune - Pete Taylor
changed key with him in a split second, even if Eddie hadn't
annouced the change. The same applied to any percussion rhythm, as
mentally dictated by Eddie, often giving no signals. Pete Staples
would pick it up immediately. The Eddie Thompson Trio (with the two
Petes) also panned out in various directions, playing at other
venues mainly in the North West, sometimes augmenting to quartets,
quintets and sextets, using many of us on the scene who played -
dare I repeat myself? - Mainstream. Multi-instrumentalist Dave Mott,
was one such men Eddie would pick; there were also John Rowland
(tpt), Randy Colville (reeds), Ken Wray, and occasionally even
little old me - in my case probably out of pity!
But the sessions at the Warren soon became even more frequent; Eddie
being such a great crowd-puller, the two Petes also building up
their own fan base. At the end of the 70s and into the 80s, the E.
T. T. always with the two Pete's in tow, played frequent
electrifying sessions at the Birch Hall in Lees, as the Warren
sessions were coming to an end with all the architectural face-lifts
going on in the Mersey Square area, which eventually produced the
Merseyway Precinct. The building is still there. Although he played
with many other bands and combos of varying personnel, this just
about brings us up to the time when Pete joined Mart and the boys in
Manchester Jazz. We all know what a great band it became and
continues to be; Pete's contribution added to that great quality by
immesurable amounts, year by year. Mart is the best person to fill
Pete's thousands of fans in about that period.
Please pass my deepest condolences to Pete's family and his closest
friends. They are surely in the thoughts and prayers of all of us at
this time; please also leave them with the comforting thought that
Pete Staples lives on through many a recording to be heard and
admired for many years to come.
You made this world a happier place, with your musical talent and
your great sense of humour. May you rest in eternal peace, old mate.
sorry to hear about Pete. Lovely guy and great musician.
There wasn't a drummer I
knew who swung more than Pete.
He had natural gifts of timing, taste and dynamics that were God
Because I also lived in Offerton at the time Pete was still
playing, we usually travelled to MRMJ gigs together. We listened
to some great rhythm sections on CDs during our journeys and
swinging was always the topic. Although he was a non-reader, he
was the perfect big band drummer, as Alan Hare recognised.
His sense of what to play, in any context from New Orleans
onwards was impeccable
A great drummer! A great man!
Roger A F Browne
express my sorrow at the death of Pete Staples, whose playing I
much enjoyed on occasional dep gigs with Manchester Jazz.
Savannah Jazz Band would like to pay tribute to Pete Staples, a
fine drummer and musician who died last week. He was an
inspiration with his work with many bands especially the Mart
Rodger Manchester Jazz Band. If only there were more like him.
Meehan and The Savannah Jazz Band
Pete for your personality and fun when playing with Manchester
Jazz. You made Monday nights very special. Always found time
during the interval to have a few words with my Mother which she
really appreciated. Our favourite song was "You're a
Sweetheart". Everyone would join in and sing along. Very happy
times. You were the "Sweetheart"x. Peace be with you.
to Peter Webb for suggesting this YouTube video of the 1984/May,
GDR-TV, Dresden Dixie Fest. when Pete Staples played on drums
with the Red River Jazz Band. It also features Doug Whaley (t)
Eric Brierley (tb) Tony Iddon (cl, ld) Danny Moss (ts) Joe
Pailin (p) and Pete Mooney (b), with Sheila Collier
singing "Take My Hand Precious Lord", and Hit That