Tributes to top jazz man

John McAndrew
John McAndrew

A POPULAR jazz musician whose contribution to the city’s nightlife helped to raise thousands for charity has died aged 74.

John McAndrew established himself as ‘front man’ of the Wakefield Arms Jazz Band in the 1970s, performing every week at the Monk Street pub and other venues across the city.

A talented vocalist, pianist and trumpet player, Mr McAndrew was known for his personality, entertaining his audience with stage announcements and jokes.

He died on Thursday, February 23 following a cardiac arrest the previous week.

Drummer and close friend Bernard Wild, who played alongside Mr McAndrew in the 1970s, said the band performed in Germany on several occasions.

He said: “I always liked John and thought he was a really nice guy. He was a man of his own and always knew what he wanted.

“He was much more into traditional than modern jazz, but I always said he would have been great playing modern too. He was wonderful on the microphone and there was a great atmosphere whenever the band played.”

Over the years the Wakefield Arms Jazz Band raised thousands for Wakefield’s Suzy fund, which supports third world projects.

Mr McAndrew, of Heath, was also a teacher.

He began teaching art at a school in Middlesex, and ended up becoming head of the lower school at St Thomas á Becket Catholic High School.

When he retired, he worked for the Workers Education Association (WEA), training parents for voluntary work in schools. He was also a keen gardener, golfer and Castleford Tigers rugby fan.

He leaves wife Valerie, sons Christopher and Timothy by his first wife, stepsons Matthew and Daniel, stepdaughter Catherine, granddaughter Iris and sister Honor.

Mr McAndrew’s life was celebrated with a procession in Normanton this week, where fellow band members played in his memory.

His sister Honor said: “John was an extremely sociable person and had a never-ending store of jokes. We will all miss him.”