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Goodbye our Mr Jazz

PUBLISHED: 11:07 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:45 25 August 2010

MUSICIANS’ RESPECT: The funeral procession brings the high street to a standstill.

MUSICIANS' RESPECT: The funeral procession brings the high street to a standstill.

HUNDREDS of fans turned out to pay their respects to a self-taught pianist dubbed the father of traditional jazz.

HUNDREDS of fans turned out to pay their respects to a self-taught pianist dubbed the father of traditional jazz.

The funeral of George Webb, credited with reviving traditional jazz in Britain in the 1940s, brought Sidcup High Street to a standstill on Tuesday afternoon, as a jazz band led the hearse, followed by hundreds of mourners.

Webb, from Erith, who died on March 11 at the age of 92, first began playing in the Red Barn pub in Barnehurst in 1944, with a band he formed with friends.

Retired engineer Jim Sales, 81, from Swanley, who was at the funeral, said: "I am one of the originals from the old Red Barn in the 1940s.

"It is where it all started from. Everybody knew George."

Webb, who was born in Camberwell worked at the Vickers factory in Crayford, assembling machine guns. There, he put on concerts by other musicians and later founded the Dixielanders, who played 1920s New Orleans jazz from the likes of King Oliver and Louis Armstrong.

The band went on to revive what was once considered unfashionable music and several members went on to become well-known figures in the music world.

These include clarinettist Wally Fawkes, trombonist Eddie Harvey and cornetist Owen Bryce.

The late broadcaster and musician Humphrey Lyttelton was even a member.

Webb went on to form another band in 1952 and played the Royal Festival Hall, before running weekly sessions at the Shakespeare Hotel in Woolwich, called Hot Club of London.

Ian Tickner, 72, from Petts Wood, said: "He was regarded as the grandfather of traditional jazz.

"I came to the funeral out of respect. I used to talk to him at the Sidcup Jazz Club. He was a nice old chap. I first heard of him years and years ago and it is probably in the last ten years that I knew him."

Retired theatre worker Dave Allen, 68, from Selsdon in Croydon, said: "He was not aloof like a lot of musicians. He had time for everybody and was very amiable."

A humanist service was held at the Sidcup & Footscray United Services Club in Main Road, Sidcup.

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