TRIBUTE: Memories of Doncaster 'troubadour of music' Dickie Emmerson
During my tenure as Doncaster Free Press jazz columnist, one of the most frequently featured attractions in my articles was that of Thorne based all-round musician Dickie Emmerson.
Dickie remained a popular ‘in-demand’ musician throughout South Yorkshire and beyond as leader of the successful band The Bluetones, who appeared several times on Hughie Green’s TV talent show Opportunity Knocks and were a constantly crowd pulling attraction at The White Hart in Wadworth.
The band also enjoyed a popular long running tenure at The Two Palfreys in Cantley, in the early 60’s. One of their most requested numbers was a cover of the chart hit ‘ Nut Rocker’ featuring pianist Charlie Morley giving Tchaikovsky Nutcracker the rock 'n’ roll treatment.
Dickie also fronted his own quartet at cricket giant Johnny Wardle’s Ponderosa Night Club over decades, where Dickie and his boys kept both listeners and dancers happy with their treatment of popular hits/swingin’ jazz standards, rockin’ versions of Beatles numbers and powerfully delivered ballads such as Neil Sedaka’s hit ‘The Hungry Years’ and covers of hits by famed ‘balladeers’ Tony Bennet , Eddie Fisher, Perry Como and other great artists; with his trumpet skills earning him selection to join with other hand-picked players in the accompanying backing band to star songstress Shirley Bassey at 10 Main Street Night Club in Auckley.
Dickie later joined forces with local drummer/band leader Roy Gale playing regular gigs at the Park Hotel, Carr House Road before setting up shop with his quartet for fortnightly Monday date sessions – including renowned pianist Tony Spragg, again featuring star guests including his good friend and college, mulit-instrumentalist Tommy Tuft, who mainly worked on cruise ships, award-winning jazz singers Nicki Allen and Nicola Farnon and Frank Brooker.
Dickie and Tony’s four piece continued their popular residency at the ‘Con Club’ notably featuring takes of hit songs by Jack Jones (much admired by Dickie) including Lollipops and Roses, Call me irresponsible - penned by Sammy Kahn and Jimmy van Heusen and featured in the Jacky Gleason movie Papa’s Delicate Condition.
In addition to Dickie’s skilled handling of ‘middle of the road’ songs, more ‘meaty’ material associated with Joe Williams, Jimmy Rushing, and other blues greats.
Rock 'n' roll and rhythm 'n’ blues were also likely to receive the magical treatment until health problems finally resulted in the dedicated ‘troubadour of music’ to cease activities.
Sadly Dickie passed away on February 28 and leaves a great legacy of live entertainment and a legion of dedicated fans and admirers behind him.
His funeral takes place at St Mary’s Church, Stainforth, on Monday March 21, at 1pm, followed by a reception at The Punch Bowl. Thorne.