Dave Renton RIP

Picture of Dave Renton


09/10/09 - I had a phone call today from Peter Swensson, followed up by an email from Phil Renton to tell me that his uncle, trombonist Dave Renton had died last night. I understand that Dave was a founder member of the Original Panama Jazz Band, and played regularly with the Savoy Jazzmen and the Parade Jazz Band.

RIP Dave Renton. A dedicated jazzer and it was always a pleasure to work with him. One of the all round 'Good Guys', he'll be sadly missed.

Ian Royle

Hello Fred, Have just read the stunning and very sad news about Dave Renton, a fine musician whom I am glad to have had the pleasure of knowing since the early sixties, when we both played in the same Wirral-based bands. In more recent times he established a fine rapport with many German audiences for is linguistic presentation, playing and singing on several tours there with Delta Jazz as well as entertaining jazz audiences at various venues every week around the Wirral for many years. He will indeed be very sadly missed by all jazz musicians, fans, friends & family.  

Alan Davies, Cornwall

I have counted Dave as one of my many jazz friends since I met him at Oldershaw Grammar School in Wallasey. In the early 1950s with some other enthusiasts we started the Panama Jazz Band, playing at the Roycroft dance hall at the top of Burns Avenue on Wednesday evenings. Many years later he took me to sit in with the then current version of the band at a pub in Bidston village, where I was introduced as the founder clarinet player. To my surprise, delight and no little emotion, one of the audience came up to me and showed me his Roycroft membership card. He had tears in his eyes, as I do now. 

More recently Dave played at the Liverpool Jazz Festival, organised by the Merseysippi Jazz Band. Once more I sat in with some old and new friends, including Dave. Dave has been a wonderful part of my life all this time, and latterly with his wife Eileen. I last saw him about a year ago when I visited Wallasey to stay with my sister Shelagh. He was playing in yet another pub, this time in West Kirby. (Thank god for pub landlords who like our music!). When he heard that we were coming he arranged for some old school friends to be there. It was another truly wonderful evening. To say that I will miss him is almost beyond expression - but then, like most jazzers, I'm an emotional kind of guy.

John Wilson

We shall all miss Dave Renton terribly, one of the great pioneers of WirralJazz. All our love and sympathies go out to Eileen, his great support and partner for so long. She - and the Jazz world - will miss him greatly.  

Tony Davis & Ken Binns.

Really sad news about Dave Renton. Dave, his brother Laurie and a nucleus of old boys from local schools formed The Panama Jazzband in 1954 after rehearsals at The Atlantic Theatre Club, Wallasey, Wirral. The first gig in public was at St Johns Church, Wallasey. Such was the success that the Panama took up residency at Wallasey Jazz Club. Dave played guitar and banjo originally and eventually switched to trombone. He remained with the Panama for many years.

He was a multi-talented musician and singer ("The end of my old cigar" springs to mind!) Also, many years ago, he and Laurie played in the Clan MacLeod Pipe Band at highland games: Laurie played the big drum and Dave the bagpipes, dressed in highland gear.

He was a great bandsman, great company and we'll miss him. 

Jon Critchley & The Original Panama Jazzband.

What a sad day and what can one say?

I think Dave Renton was the first jazz trombonist that I heard live before I started playing myself.

Back in the 1950s when he played with the Panama JB and I was playing with the Druids JB, we would often bump into each other at various Wirral jazz venues. He was always friendly and a good person to pass time with having a good chat.

I only played gigs with him a few times when I filled in for John Dodgshon on trumpet, but I also enjoyed many sit ins at the Queens Arms in Wallasey where he and the Panama played for years. It seemed that I was always welcome and they were happy times.

He will be missed.

Tony Pringle

I'm dreadfully sorry to hear about Dave Renton, a great character and a great trombonist, and an irreplaceable part of the Savoy sessions at the Ship in Hoylake. Monday nights just won't be the same without him.

It's a little known fact about Dave, but he was a Scots fiddler and dancer in his youth, and appeared at a folk dance festival in front of Princess Margaret, at the Albert Hall in 1956. An occasion he always remembered with pride. I always meant to track down the programme for that night and give him a copy. Alas I never did. The things you regret when it's too late.

Fred McCormick. 

Dave was a friend of over 50 years. We met when Dave & Laurie were playing Folk music, both on Guitars. They then formed the nucleus of the Panama Jazz Band, Dave on Banjo and Laurie Piano, Drums and Trumpet. Dave was with the Panama for many years, regular gigs Wednesday & Thursday. On Sundays we ran a telephone band and Jazz festivals at The Albion in New Brighton.

5O years of memories are too many for a remembrance page, but I can assure you that most were hilarious. Some of the last words Dave said to me when he was in his wheelchair were "They never told us about this when we were enjoying ourselves". 

My condolences to Eileen, his partner for very many years.


Dave Renton was my oldest and dearest friend. It was Dave who introduced me to the wonderful world of jazz more than 50 years ago and then encouraged me when I had this crazy idea that I could actually play this stuff. Since then, I've had fabulous experiences playing the music that we all love and I owe it all to my dear friend and mentor: Dave Renton. 

Whether on guitar, banjo or trombone, Dave was a natural and gifted musician but it was as a singer that he really excelled, with a bluesy style that was just built for jazz. 

Thank you Dave. I wish I could tell you that in person one more time. Like all of the others who met you along the way, I'll really miss you.

John Dodgshon Sonoma, California

Just to add to the long list of tributes to Dave Renton. He was a 'fun'player, and I had the pleasure of playing behind him many times. I particularly enjoyed the sessions at Parkgate, and the several occasions when we both played with The Wall City Jazz Men at Chester Races. Dave often made contributions to 'Sick Animals' - though he didn't know they were sick when he backed them. During one winning streak at Chester, Dave tipped me a horse named 'Albert The Bear'. It won - at a good price - and from then on, whenever I walked into a jazz venue to work with him, he would greet me with 'Ah - it's Albert The Bear'. Now he's passed the winning post, and with many others, I'll miss him. 

Derek Harrison - piano 

One of my first jazz gigs in Liverpool featured Dave Renton on trombone. Bruce Bakewell was on clarinet that day with Dave's brother Laurie on drums, and those three struck me at the time as towering figures in the new world into which I was being initiated, as indeed they were. Later, we repaired to Laurie's house, where conversation (etc) flowed, jazz memorabilia were passed around and a furious disagreement broke out as to the relative merits of traditional jazz and its more recent variants. Dave was the died-in-the-wool traditionalist on that occasion while Laurie was the 'tolerant liberal', but I heard each of them take the opposite point of view in subsequent years. 

There must have been a lot of sibling rivalry in the Renton household when they were younger. Dave was a fine trombonist, but his apparently effortless singing and easy repartee, even with foreign audiences, made him a natural front man. Playing together in Germany one year, we arrived to find that the chord-man had had to pull out at the last minute. As the rest of us charged around in a panic trying to find a German banjo-player, guitarist or pianist, Dave was unflappable. He'd seen all this before and knew that if we couldn't find one we were perfectly capable of playing without. Even though we did find a replacement, it was Dave's confident, calm acceptance of the situation that really saved the day. This was a gift that I hope will have sustained him to the end. 

Helen joins me in offering condolences to Eileen and the extended family.

Allan Wilcox, Caernarfon, Gwynedd

I just thought I would write and say how sorry I am at the passing of Dave Renton. Right at the very start of my playing career (such as it is) Dave was the first person to let me " 'av a go" with a band. It was Dave's own band, Professor Brown and his Sunset Cafe Stompers, and they were playing at the now defunct "Creep In" in New Brighton. To my utter dismay Dave just left me to it and walked off, leaving me to play on my own with the rest of the band, as I had never played with a band before it was what you might call a baptism of fire! Interestingly, also in that band were Tommy Orrett and Derek Roberts (also both sadly deceased), and also Charlie Walcom and Brian Legan (both still very much with us thank goodness). But I'll never forget that it was Dave who gave me my first chance at playing with a band, and we played together many times after that too. Sadly in recent years the only regular contact I had with him was when he needed a dep, but I was fortunate enough to see him play with the Savoy Jazzmen just a few weeks ago. I'll never forget him.

Andrew MacKenzie

Monday nights at The Ship, Hoylake, will not be the same without Dave. He had a vast knowledge of our music and his trombone playing was always so inventive. He had a great feel for jazz and his singing was second to none.

Dave Dodshon was over from the States just a month ago and joined us for two sessions at the Ship. On the last session we played Climax Rag and although Dave was recovering from a minor stroke his playing was inspirational.

It has been a privilege to know him and he will be greatly missed.

Peter Swensson. the Savoy Jazzmen.

Over the past 25 years I played more jazz with Dave Renton than anyone else; we played together with his brother Laurie in the "Silver Dollar Six", and in the past 8-10 years I played with him regularly twice a week with the Savoy and the Parade bands. I am deeply indebted to him for his encouragement since the early 1980's, and for his tuition in so many New Orleans numbers over so many years. No one on this earth knew all the words to so many numbers as Dave; I shall miss his singing, his fine, steady musicianship, his droll comments across the microphone, and most of all I shall miss his friendship and camaraderie. This is a very sad time for jazz on Merseyside.

Geoff Parker

17th Oct 2009

I attended Dave's funeral at Landican crematorium, Birkenhead yesterday and it was a marvellous tribute to a fine jazz musician and a great guy. 

A band of 30 musicians led by a Band Marshall paraded from the cemetery gates down to the chapel, playing "Just a closer walk with Thee". Along with the tributes during the service, Geoff Parker (clarinet) and Roy Gregory (banjo) accompanied the congregation singing "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Abide with me", and the full band played "The Saints" following exit from the chapel. 

It says much for Dave's popularity that so many musicians paid their respects, representing 14 different bands, and there were a further 7 musicians in the congregation, including professional jazz pianist Bert Lamb, a life-long friend of Dave's who journeyed from Wiltshire for the day to pay his respects. A wonderful tribute to Dave, who will be a great loss to his family and the jazz fraternity

Terry Birkinhead. 

21st Oct 2009

I didn't get to Dave Renton's funeral, so can I write to say how sorry I was to learn of his death? Dave was a fun player (as was Laurie) who never debased the music, taking blues, folk, (old) popular and music hall songs and giving them the jazz treatment. Let's try and keep the spirit of Dave alive.

John Muskett

Photo supplied by Alan Davies

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