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My Memories of John Pike—by Steve Jewell

John Pike passed away on Monday 23rd January. He was a regular attender/player at our Blackheath Jazz Festival where he played clarinet in "Foot Warmers", missing last year's due to illness. We go back almost 40 years musically.

John was a civil softly-spoken gentleman who never had an unkind word to say about anyone. He was a self-made man who had been a farmer at Trundle and a pilot before I met him in the jazz world in the 70s. Jazz was his passion and I met him when he played clarinet/saxophone in the “Sweet Sherry Stompers” an old-style trad jazz band based in Parkes. He also loved to play rhythm guitar.He had taught himself these instruments and reached a very competent level where he could sit in with some of Australia’s top trad jazz players like Paul Furniss and John Bates.

He played at Parkes, Dubbo and Blackheath Jazz Festivals as well as Australian Jazz Conventions. His bands included “Strictly Trad”, the “Antiquity Trio” and the “Foot Warmers”. Whilst his fellow musicians would be noisily getting into the schooners of beer at jazz festivals, John would be quietly relaxing with a wine glass and a good bottle of red.

The “Antiquity Trio” was John on clarinet, Ross Tighe on drums and me on piano. We played in Nursing Homes in Dubbo. One memorable time was when an elderly woman took objection to what we were playing, hurling a cup, then a saucer, at us, these objects narrowly missing us and smashing to pieces on the wall. We kept playing as good musicians as she was led away. I think on the same day an enthusiastic nurse who was dancing to the music dislocated her knee.

We had wonderful musical times in the country including a memorable night playing at the Trundle Golf Club. John has joined myself with a vocalist and performed last year to a very appreciative audience at Martyn Claver Nursing Home in Leura as well as popping into the Ashfield Catholic and Community Club where he has sat in with top musos like Paul Furniss.

All musos who have come into contact with John would have respected his musical talents and passion.

John had more than his fair share of tragedy in his life losing his wife Judy at a young age to cancer then going through the same trauma with his second wife Trudy. Throughout he retained his stoic dignified disposition and just got on with doing what had to be done. His own health had suffered in the last few years. This prevented him playing in the “Foot Warmers” in November at the Blackheath Jazz Festival where he had been a popular regular attender. He was negotiating to acquire a soprano saxophone when his illness caught up with him. It was a pleasure to know John and to play jazz with him.