It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of Ray Hayes at his home in Runcorn. I was due to take him out for lunch today March 3rd his 72nd birthday and was unable to get any response from him at his apartment there. The Property manageress gained access to his flat and paramedics were called and appeared that he had died in bed sometime yesterday. He had not been well for several years suffering from gout and diabetes. The stress caused by his financial problems has not been good for him.
I shall always remember him as single minded jazz musician totally dedicated to the clarinet playing of Jimmie Noone & Johnny Dodds.
I last saw him 4 weeks ago when he came with me to see the Harlem Hot Stompers session at the Rochdale Jazz Club on Sunday February 2nd. where I was depping for John Reade.
I suspect there will have to be a coroners report and will keep you posted as to any funeral arrangements.
I first met Ray in the
early 1980’s when we were both playing with the River City
Jazzband based in Denbigh North Wales, but was aware that his
Jazz pedigree went much further back to the 1960’s when he was
the clarinet player in the Mick Burns Rhythm Kings based in
Manchester which included Colin Turner, Willie Entwistle , John
Ronan and John Reade. This fine band was heavily influenced by
the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band and Ray Hayes’ Dodds inspired
playing is remarkable.
From 1983 -1993 he led bands under the names of “The Black Bottom Stompers” “The West End Jazzband” and “The Roaring 20’s Jazzband”. The latter held a residency at the Black Dog in Waverton Nr Chester for several years till it was converted into a Pub Grub venue. These bands included Ken Dorhan, Alan Bray, Hugh Gerrard, Dick Wharton or Billy Edwards on trumpet/cornet-Alan Pendlebury, Arthur Williams, Bart Poole & Arthur Peddar on Trombone- Myself or Macolm Hogarth on Piano- Roger Curtiss or Derek Roberts on Guitar & Banjo- Robin Tankard or Ray Owens on bass-John Fogg, Gordon Petit and later Alan Davies on drums. He also played regularly with the River City Jazzband including a television recording for S4C in 1984 at the Theatre Gwynedd in Bangor, N Wales where the photograph I have attached was taken
We also were privileged
to have Yank Lawson guest with The Roaring 20’s band at the
Llangollen Jazz Festival in May 1988. There were tours of
Germany with the Roaring 20’s Band with Ray Smith, Ray Owens,
Arthur Peddar, Alan Davies and my friend the late Dick Wharton
on cornet. He gave up active playing in the mid 1990’s to
concentrate on his business interests which included an off
licence franchise and a laundry and dry cleaning business.
Ray was a blinkered devotee (my words) as confirmed by Mr Penn, and he was very good at what he did. He once told me "I don't play anything that Johnny Dodds didn't". He also once told me "Critchley, you'll never play trumpet as long as you have a hole in your a***" ! ( That's my exclamation mark, not his: he wasn't joking. He may have a point...).
Sorry to hear about Ray Hayes. I did keep in touch but, to my shame, not as often as I should have. I think the last time we spoke was around Christmas time. I do hope to go to the funeral. The sins of omission are often the worst.
letting me know the sad news about Ray Hayes. I played
trumpet/cornet alongside Ray in various combinations in the 60s and
remember him as a very good, uncompromising clarinet player with a
powerful tone. He was a great admirer of Jimmy Noone and Johnny
Dodds which was pretty obvious when you heard him play. I enjoyed
playing with him very much.
It was with much sadness that I learnt of Ray Hayes’ passing from Ian McCann.
Ray was certainly a dedicated individualist, a talented clarinettist, indeed also respected in his working career.
He had a particular love of animals. His sense of humour was also very dry. I played in Ray’s band The Roaring Twenties for about 11 years after we both left the River City and also took him on 2 tours to Germany. A strong personal memory of Ray was when, after not playing for very many months, he practised again to come to my milestone birthday party especially to play with our band there. Though he retired from playing several years ago his presence on a jazz band stand and contribution to the genre will never be forgotten.
Alan Davies, Cornwall
So sorry to hear about Ray Hayes. We go back to the early 60's when we used to play at the 1250 club (RAF Club) at the top of Bold Street Liverpool. He used to come most Sundays to hear the band and sit in from time to time. We were into the Hot 5's, 7's and Oliver then which was of course his forte.
He did of course run his own band for many years but I never found out why he stopped playing. It was such a shame. A fine musician.
Condolences to his family and friends.
Peter Swensson. (Savoy Jazzmen)
Helen and I had heard a lot about Ray Hayes during our early years in Liverpool at the beginning of the eighties, and when the opportunity arose for us to see and hear him play we jumped at the chance. His virtuosity on the clarinet was legendary, as was his hot-tempered unwillingness to suffer fools gladly. I can't remember where the gig took place, but it was in Liverpool, in quite a plush room with a raised seating area at the sides, and the band played on a proscenium stage. Among the musicians, Mike Swift was on banjo, I remember, and Bert Don on bass guitar, but before we arrived there was only one person in the audience - a relatively elderly woman who kept getting up to dance in an eccentric fashion in front of the band. Ray's impatience manifested itself pretty early on when he asked her to stop dancing and, when she did it again a little later, ordered her to leave. From then on, there were only two of us in the audience, but what we lacked in numbers we more than made up for in enthusiasm for the band. They were outstanding.
A few years later, I became part of Ray's regular Roaring Twenties line-up on Tuesday nights at the Black Dog, Waverton, with Alan Bray on trumpet, Alan Pendlebury or (later) Arthur Williams on trombone, Ian McCann on banjo and Alan Davies on drums. Alan Bray's wife Tina 'Bricktop' Earl would often join us on vocals, and I shall always treasure the experience of playing in that band under Ray's leadership. He wasn't always sweetness and light, and I received one or two memorable tongue-lashings, but he was a gifted musician who knew what he was talking about, and he taught me more than I can say.
the bands Ray played in during the late 1960`s was the Mick
Burns Rhythm Kings -- a band who included in their repertoire
many numbers recorded in 1923 by King Olivers Creole Jazz Band.
They utilised two trumpets as Oliver did & arrangements were
very tight & organised. Ray`s role on clarinet was to interweave
around the melody line & also play some incredibly difficult
`breaks` - both of which he achieved superbly.
I was sorry to hear of
the death of Ray Hayes. I introduced Ray to jazz in the late
50’s or early 60’s. At that time I lived in Liverpool but worked
in Widnes where Ray lived. Ray was about 5 years younger than I
and we met, I think, at one of the chemical companies where we
both worked. I can’t remember quite how it became obvious that I
was interested in jazz but Ray soon wanted to learn as much as I
could tell him about this music. I lent him some books and
records and very shortly he had purchased a clarinet as his idol
was,right from the start, Johnny Dodds. His progress was rapid
and the rest is history, his interest in Dodds obviously
remaining with him. However I have a feeling that at some stage
Ray did flirt with a tenor sax!
Pete Swensson rang me in Brighton last night to tell me of the
sad news of Ray Hayes’s death. I played with him for some years
at his weekly jazz spot in the Adelphi Hotel along with Malc
Murphy, Malcolm Horne and Co. and at other outside venues,
though I can’t remember what name the band played under then.
But I can remember back to when Ray Hayes had his authentic pair
of wooden Albert clarinets. They had relatively few keys and
were difficult to play, but boy did they have a fantastic sound.
If Ray was there first, and he usually was (because he was a
conscientious organiser), you could hear him warming up from
Renshaw Street! The old clarinets also meant fewer notes and
more thought and I was initially disappointed when Ray updated
to more modern versions. But he had a fantastic technique, a
superb memory and great musicianship. He was genuinely
interested in what jazz could achieve and we had many long
conversations about this at weekends. This must have been in the
1970s to judge from the photos. As a band leader Ray took no
nonsense from anyone, management and audience included.
Sometimes I wondered how we kept our regular gigs for so long:
it must have been the quality of the music as Ray was such an
exciting and extrovert player. A one-off who had the Dodds and
Noone traditions entirely at his fingertips. A legend in his
lifetime who will be sadly missed.
Geoff Cole (trombone) : Malc Murphy (drums) : Mal Horne (banjo) : Robert Orlidge (piano) : Ray Hayes (clarinet) : Malc Murphy (tpt) : Terry Knight (bs)
As well as Ray Hayes,
photos include Robin Tankard (string bass) Willie
Entwistle (alto), John Braben (tpt), Andy Bennett (holding
Click on the pictures for larger versions and see if you can you name any others?
With shock and sadness, I only heard about Ray this week
while depping with the Savoy jazz Band in Widnes.
Somewhat belatedly, I am sorry to read of Ray Hayes’ death. Ray
lived in Dickson St. Widnes and attended Wade Deacon Grammar
School. As a fellow Widnesian, I played trumpet in a local band
with Ray following some sessions with Dave Lind in West Derby in
the late 50’s. We were aged 17-18 at the time. 2 fine
clarinettists lost to the North West. I left for Manchester in
1960. On moving to Chester in 1974, I met Ray again a few years
later when he was playing at the Ring O’ Bells pub in
Christleton, Chester. He had lost none of his enthusiasm, and
informed me that he had made a trip to New Orleans and sat in
with some bands which he found rewarding, but surprised me by
saying ‘they were not as good as I expected’. This was probably
a measure of his own high standards. I learned from the bass
player of the Chicago Teddy Bears that Ray was depressed, but I
never got round to visiting him. God Bless Ray and Dave.
Incidentally, I was recently in touch via e-mail with bassist
Ron Lloyd who is well in Canada, where he leads the new New
Somewhat belatedly, I am sorry to read of Ray Hayes’ death. Ray lived in Dickson St. Widnes and attended Wade Deacon Grammar School. As a fellow Widnesian, I played trumpet in a local band with Ray following some sessions with Dave Lind in West Derby in the late 50’s. We were aged 17-18 at the time. 2 fine clarinettists lost to the North West. I left for Manchester in 1960. On moving to Chester in 1974, I met Ray again a few years later when he was playing at the Ring O’ Bells pub in Christleton, Chester. He had lost none of his enthusiasm, and informed me that he had made a trip to New Orleans and sat in with some bands which he found rewarding, but surprised me by saying ‘they were not as good as I expected’. This was probably a measure of his own high standards. I learned from the bass player of the Chicago Teddy Bears that Ray was depressed, but I never got round to visiting him. God Bless Ray and Dave.
Incidentally, I was recently in touch via e-mail with bassist Ron Lloyd who is well in Canada, where he leads the new New Orleans Express.