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Saturday, July 02, 2011

Info on Bill Croft wanted

Quite by chance I've just come across your cheerful and informative blog. I'm trying to track down Billy Croft who was a pal of mine way back in Hull. We used to play clarinet duets together and have lost touch. So do you have any news of him?
Tony Dugdale.
Can anyone help Tony? I remember a Bill Croft and his Blue Star Jazzmen back in the 1950s.
Is Bill Croft still around?
Lance.

4 comments :

Gordon Solomon said...

Bill played for the River City Band for about 12 months sometime in the 1970's. I remember he replaced Danny Dunbar. Bill then emigrated to either South Africa or Australia, - I forget which. He was disappointed to leave the band but his daytime job came first. He, in turn, was replaced by Stan Martin, and during the change-over we were treated to superb clarinet duets with both musicians. Bill led the Blue Star Jazzmen at the Corner House Hotel in Jesmond in the 1960's, - recently departed Kevin Savin was on banjo. It was a really good band.

Gordon Solomon.

Lawrence McBriarty said...

I was on trombone with Bill Croft Blue Star Jazzmen 1961-62 the last band.Lineup,Bill Reid Bass. Jeff Robinson? drums. Kevin Savin banjo.John Walters tpt. Bill Croft clt. Me tbn. John and Kevin R.I.P. Bill went to Tasmainia as a civil engineer. John to BBC London.

Jef Robinson said...

Bill Croft
I was stopping over for a few days with my old mate Lou (Townson) and his wife Ann, in South Wales and we were talking about old times. Bill Croft’s name cropped up (Lou & I had both played in the Blue Star Jazz Band in the late 50s early 60s) and we decided to Google him to see if we could find out where he was or what happened to him – and up popped this fantastic site, where only a month ago Tony from Hull was on the same quest!

Sorry Tony, we’re still looking for him so I can't help, but maybe I can add a bit to the background.

Bill and I met within days of arriving at Kings College in Oct 1958 at the jazz club above the Gardener's Arms in Nelson Street and it didn't take long to decide to try to put a band together. Bill was a brilliant clarinettist - he'd been to Moscow with the Crescent City band from Hull whilst he was still at school .

He once told me that he and his mates in Hull called themselves the “GSAMCQ”. I’ve forgotten what the “G “stood for but the rest was “G………. Swinging, Anti-Manky, Crumping Quartet” - and why that long forgotten snippet of memory came into my head after 50 years I haven’t the faintest idea! I do recall though that one of those mates came up to Newcastle for a weekend at one point - maybe that was you?

Bill married Cynthia around 1963 and they went to Tasmania. I heard that the marriage didn’t last. I can confirm Gordon’s story that Bill returned to Newcastle briefly in the 70s. Sadly I wasn’t aware of that at the time, but I ran into Joe Young in the Town about 10 years ago and he told me the same thing.

The Blue Star Jazz Band line-up began in late 1958 or early 1959 as:-
Bill Croft – Clt
John Walters – Tpt
Keith Foggin – Tmb
John Crone – Pno
Clive Grey – Bjo
Me (Jef Robinson) – Dms

Then in the summer of '59 Clive left to do his National Service and John Crone left to join the College Kings band. In October '59 Lou and Dave arrived in Newcastle and the band became:-
Bill Croft – Clt
John Walters – Tpt
Keith Foggin – Tmb
Dave Rowberry – Pno
Lou Townson – Bass
Me (Jef Robinson) – Dms

In 1962, after the band broke up John, Jef and Lou joined the Joe Young band and Lou did a short spell with the EmCee 5 including an Italian tour. Dave went to London and was Musical Director for PJ Proby before taking Alan Price's chair in the Animals while John & Jef signed up with The Alan Price Set in 1965. Of Bill, sadly, I have no news.

Maybe Lance would like me to put a more detailed history of the band and its members on the blog – I have photos, press cuttings, and an LP (also mp3) of the Joe Young band recorded at MortonSound about 1964

If anyone would like to get in touch my e-mail address is - jyrob( )hotmail.com - [just change the brackets ( ) to @]

Jef Robinson

Anonymous said...

Call Logan City Council, Queensland, Australia - +61 7 3412 3412.

Bill is a 'retired' civil engineer / transport planner. Like many engineers, he liked it so much he returned to work part-time (in the transport section). Best day to try is possibly a Wednesday.

From the conversations that I had with him when working there I gathered that his marriage is still happy. :-)

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