Remembering a great Norfolk musician.
Members of the John Lofty Band will be going back on stage at the Golden Years charity gig at the UEA in April to remember the man who brought them all together.
A year after his death, musicians will be gathering in Norwich to remember a man who brought so much pleasure to others – music maker John Lofty.
John – a man who could get a tune out of a piece of wood – was part of the music scene for more than half a century and when he and his band were performing everybody had a good time.
Now, some of those members will be getting together at the next Golden Years charity concert at the UEA on Saturday, April 14 to play an emotional tribute to their leader and friend.
'He was such a great man to work with. He taught me so much,' said Michael Page, pianist and vocalist, who was working with John up until his death last year at the age of 73.
Among those joining Michael on stage at the Golden Years include drummer Trevor Hewitt and his son Matt on percussion, Peter Motts on bass, guitarist Richard Swift and trombonist Mike Buck.
'There may be others. We are not sure yet,' said Michael, who runs the busy Sole Plaice fish and chip shop in Suffolk Square, Norwich.
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Michael, now aged 27, spent the last ten years as part of John's busy band working all over the place. They were always in demand because people knew just how good they were.
'It is going to be an emotional evening. We will all be waiting for John to count us in when we get up on stage. He was a phenomenal musician who was always encouraging and helping others,' he said.
Born in 1937 and educated at Norwich School John spent his life living at Little Melton where he was a farmer and then a builder.
Music had always played a leading role in his life.
By the age of seven he was having piano lessons at Bawburgh and by the time he reached his teens he was playing the accordion and other instruments.
Ralph Plunkett, a great friend and a member of John's first band, said following his death: 'Our first group was called Moon & Stars and then we turned into The John Lofty Group. This was in the 1950s and one of our first gigs was at a jazz festival in Dereham with Chris Barber. We loved jazz especially Dixieland.'
As the band developed, playing the music of the day, they travelled across East Anglia and were a smash hit wherever they went – especially on the American air bases.
For decades the The John Lofty Showband were one of the busiest and best loved outfits in the region and attracted many talented musicians over the years.
As Ralph said: He was a true gentleman of the music world. We all loved him so much.'
John's daughter Marie said she was delighted that friends would be honouring him at the Golden Years.
It is a golden opportunity to remember a great musician.
Also playing at the gig, which will raise money for the civic charity Big C, will be Garry Freeman & the New Contours, Mervyn & The Starbeats and Mister Buss. Tickets, costing �10, are now on sale at the Evening News offices, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich. Call 01603 772175 or visit www.en24.co.uk/shop, call the UEA on 01603 508050 or visit www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk. You can also call the organiser Terry Wickham on Norwich 864460 or pop into the PMT Music Shop at Anglia Square or the Trafford Arms on Grove Road, Norwich.