Graham Tayar obituary

Other lives: Broadcaster, jazz musician and poet who played with the Crouch End All Stars in London

My father, Graham Tayar, who has died aged 83, was a creative force best known for his many BBC radio series in the 1970s and for his trad jazz band, the Crouch End All Stars, which has had a loyal following across north London for the past 40 years.

Born in Birmingham to Robert, a research chemist and Muriel (nee Aaron), he attended King Edward’s school in the city, and then won a scholarship to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he obtained, as he proudly put it, “the best third in my year”, as he had devoted most of his time to politics, partying and punting.

After graduating, Graham started an artists’ colony in the south of France, but eventually the group ran out of money and had to be repatriated by the British embassy.

In the early 1960s he went to Ethiopia, where he taught English, met Emperor Haile Selassie and took up playing jazz piano. He also worked freelance for the BBC World Service, reporting on earthquakes and revolutions all over Africa.

On his return to Britain, he spent many years producing and presenting programmes for what is now BBC Radio 3, the most successful of which was Personality and Power, in which Graham gathered high profile figures such as the historian Asa Briggs, the psychiatrist Anthony Storr, the British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley and the Conservative historian Lord Blake to discuss the processes by which politicians achieve power.

Graham’s infectious love of music and his unflagging energy meant that he was a force behind a significant amount of London jazz in the 1970s and 80s. One of his main contributions was to run for many years a well-known pub jazz session at the New Merlin’s Cave in Islington, north London, where the resident band led by well-known musicians such as Bruce Turner, Wally Fawkes and John Barnes drew big crowds.

The Crouch End All Stars also had a following. John Wain, the poet, critic and jazz lover, commented: “As the evening goes on … either individual soloists or the whole group suddenly take off into that timeless dimension of excitement and invention that is jazz.”

Graham wrote poetry all his life and published a volume, Not Too Late for Loving: A Lifetime of Occasional Verse (2000), which he would try to sell to every unsuspecting person he met. His poetry was described by the Guardian as “personal lyrics that remind one of Hardy and Housman … his work is effective, often moving”.

He is survived by his wife, Catherine; by his children Penny, Imogen and me from two previous marriages; by his five grandchildren, Laura, Jethro, Atticus, Pearl and Erik; and by his brother, Clifford.

Daryl Tayar

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
John Evans obituary
Other lives: Classical music scholar and producer for BBC Radio 3

Humphrey Burton

11, May, 2016 @1:59 PM

Article image
Arthur Johnson obituary
Other lives: Award-winning music and documentary producer at BBC Radio 3

Peter Dickinson

11, Dec, 2014 @5:37 PM

Article image
Dave Shepherd obituary
One of Britain’s finest jazz clarinettists inspired by his hero Benny Goodman

Peter Vacher

28, Dec, 2016 @5:11 PM

Article image
Denise Lesley obituary
Other lives: Television producer specialising in educational broadcasting

Mike Raggett

19, Jan, 2017 @1:00 PM

Article image
Frances Graham obituary
Other lives: Chief executive of Workbase Training from 1980 until 2015

Sue Slipman and Jim Cornelius

15, Jan, 2017 @6:32 PM

Article image
John Muir obituary
Other lives: Producer at BBC Radio 1 who created John Peel’s strand of Night Ride

Bill Aitken

06, Jun, 2017 @3:06 PM

Article image
Tony Augarde obituary
Other lives: Prolific and talented wordsmith and musician

Katharine Augarde

31, Mar, 2017 @3:12 PM

Article image
Gerry Browning obituary
Other lives: Fiercely independent man passionate about football, jazz and the landscape of northern England

Daniel Vulliamy

06, Apr, 2016 @2:55 PM

Article image
Nina Trott obituary
Other lives: Jazz violinist, teacher and dedicated political campaigner

Louis Hawkins

13, Mar, 2017 @5:26 PM

Article image
Norman Bowden obituary
Other lives: Jazz trumpeter whose long career took in Dixie, dance halls and R&B

Peter Vacher

05, Jul, 2017 @5:15 PM