Friday, July 06, 2007

George Melly RIP

The son of a wool broker and an actress, George Melly was born in Liverpool in 1926 and educated at Stowe.

He joined the Navy at the end of World War II before joining jazz trumpeter Mick Mulligan's band, travelling the length and breadth of Britain.

"They were terrific times we had. Hard drinking and squalid digs but absolutely no regrets," Melly recalled.

After quitting music in 1962 to concentrate on writing, he resumed his jazz career in the 1970s and went back on the road with John Chilton's Feetwarmers.

He was renowned for his zoot suits, jaunty fedoras and outrageous ties

Away from show business, his main recreation was fly fishing - a passion he indulged at the mile-long stretch of the River Usk he owned beside his holiday home in Wales.

The jazzman continued to perform despite collapsing on stage in January during a concert with his band, Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen.

"I don't fear death," he said recently. "I'm a fatalist, although I would rather death came as a shock to me.

"I've always said I wanted to die either coming off stage with the applause in my ears or of a terminal stroke on a river bank with two trout by my side."

Liverpool's Lord Mayor Paul Clark said: "Liverpool has lost one of its most cherished sons. George Melly was more than just a jazz legend, his contribution to literature, art and journalism ensured his place as one of Britain's cultural greats of the 20th century."

Hear hear. How could you forget "Nuts" and "Son of Nuts"?

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