It is with great sadness that I have to report the the death of the great British Percussionist Peter Appleby.
As many of my readers will know Pete was the driving force behind the Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Group when I was still a lad! Previous to joining Lonnie’s band Peter played with an endless list of household names, both Jazzers and popular performers. He was with the Mick Mulligan band for over 10 years, the singer in that band was the legendary George Melly – George mentions Pete in his book. Other names that people will recognise include, The Humphrey Littleton Band, The Johnny Dankworth Orchestra and Dame Shirley Bassey.
In later years Pete devoted himself to musical education and was still teaching up to 2010. I recently received a number of emails from ex-students of Pete’s, one of which is now a Doctor of Music and he owes all his early start in music to Peter. Of course Pete didn’t only play kit, he was an all round Percussionist which included; Vibraphone, Xylophone and Tympani etc. But was more famous for his drum kit work.
I first saw Peter perform when he joined the Donegan band in 1960 and he bowled me over, little did I know then that I would end up taking over the drum chair from him with the band in the late 60’s, a hard act to follow as any musician who has worked with Lonnie will tell you.For the past 30 years – give or take – Peter has been happily married to wife June. Although they had known each for many years before that when June was also in show-business as a professional dancer. For the past number of years Peter had been ill on a number of occasions suffering with a serious chest complaint and even beating Bladder Cancer in 2010 with the ever stalwart care, love and dedication of June.
It was Saturday the 28th January 2012 that Pete passed away in the Middlesborough Hospital, June having called the Paramedics when Pete started having breathing problems the previous evening.
It was reported that Pete died peacefully in his sleep with June by his side.
I always seem to be trying to find more time these days. I don’t know why because since I took the decision to drop the Management and Training Consultancy business from my portfolio, I am supposed to have more time! In the end of course it all comes down to me, I should be big enough and ugly enough by now to admit that Time Management isn’t one of my strongest skills. The reason I started off saying this is because the photo below was taken before Christmas and it’s now January and I am only now (at 3.25 am) finding the time to post it.
I had been out for just a short 1 hour trip to grab some photos of a Hoar-Frost that we had had and, on the way back as I was driving back to my house from the main road, I saw a Police car looking at me as I drove (they were driving past me and on down the main road). The problem I had is that I had just spotted this chap on the road and I wanted to grab a quick pic, but I couldn’t while the police were watching. In the end (all this happened in about 2 minutes) as soon as the police car vanished I quickly picked up the camera from the passenger seat and shot two frames. Unfortunately, I was still driving at the time, so the pic was obviously a bit blurred, not to mention the that I managed to get the door post of my car in the pic as well!
No matter. Looking at the photo now, it still carries the message that I was hoping it would. Which is, that as cold as it was that morning this guy probably slept out in it all night, while I was tucked up in bed in my centrally heated home. And, while I was complaining that I had to clear up the breakfast things in my kitchen before I could jump in my car and go and take some photos. This guy was tramping down the road with a shopping trolley, full of all his worldly goods wondering where his next meal would come from. And when I saw him, and the reason I took the photo, I wondered what his story was. How did he get to the position he was in now? Where are his family etc.? And made me thankful for whatever it is I have. It said to me for God’s sake stop complaining about your lot. Stop thinking about your curses and start concentrating on your blessings.
A happy New Year to all my friends and, more importantly, I wish the guy with the trolley a much happier 2011 than the one he appears to be having at the end of 2010.