RIP Bobby Wellins (1936-2016)

Bobby Wellins at the Cinnamon Club in Altrincham in May 2015
Photo credit and © William Ellis. All Rights Reserved

One of the most individual and affecting sounds in jazz is no more. Tenor saxophonist Bobby Wellins,  a wonderful, witty story-teller in music and in words, passed away yesterday at the age of 80. We will have tributes later. Condolences to Isobel and the family. In sadness.


William Ellis writes of the picture below: “Bobby liked this one. Back of Stan Tracey’s head on the left and Guy Barker in the background.”

Bobby Welllins at the Scarborough Jazz Festival
Photo credit and © William Ellis. All Rights Reserved

LINK: 80th birthday celebration report – at the 606 Club
Lover Man (played as a samba) filmed at a concert in Hove in 2013 with Kate Williams
Mad About the Boy in 2012 in Brighton with Mark Edwards, Andrew Cleyndert and Spike Wells


Alison Kerr’s obituary in the Herald
Clark Tracey’s tribute at Jazzviews
John Fordham’s Guardian obituary

Categories: miscellaneous

9 replies »

  1. when I heard the news last night from Spike Wells I immediately put on 'Starless and Bible Black', not quite believing we'll never hear THAT sound again. Bobby was so special – not just as a musician but as a man too. A real example of total commitment to the music through a series of often horrendous ups and downs, he never stopped creating individual, sincere and personal music, right up until a stroke ended his playing days. There was nobody like Bobby; that tone, the rhythmic feel, the lyricism, the boundless harmonic ideas – he was totally unique. Thanks for your friendship Bobby. I will treasure the times we spent together both on an off the stand. Your warmth, humour and priceless anecdotes will be much missed. Rest in Peace.

  2. Producing Bobby's “The Satin Album” way back, was such a privilege. Smooth, quietly controlled, Bobby, along with Colin, Dave and Clark put together a magnificent few days of hard work to create the landmark album with all the sessions totally live, without any repairs, resulting in something so splendidly professional and rich. He was very very special and will most certainly missed by many.
    RIP Bobby and sincere condolences to Isobel and family.

  3. I was in Rotterdam, listening to a whole new generation of Dutch musicians,when I heard that Bobby had passed. And although I heard some fine playing, as I have done for so many years in my jazz promoting career, I could not remember when I had heard a new player so utterly distinctive and inspirational as Bobby in the past ten years. And in the past 50 years there have been very very few whose sound and fluency of expression was as immediately recognisable and alluring as Bobby's. He was one of the most important jazz musicians from the British scene since his generation took up the music – and we have been so fortunate to hear and know him for so long. My last memory of Bobby is of a long evening talking and drinking (us wine, him tea) with John Cumming in the hotel during the 2015 Gateshead Jazz Festival. He'd just played the Under Milk Wood suite in tribute to Stan and was as friendly, interesting, philosophical and amusing then as ever. As a champion musician and also a very good companion – we'll miss him deeply.

  4. This is so very sad. Bobby was a gentleman and always lovely to speak with. Enjoyed so many of his gigs and especially at the Bulls Head in Barnes with Stan Tracey and others -also in Sussex -we've lost another of the real “greats” Condolences to his family. John Boulton and Cecily Hughes

  5. In respect of a comment above, at Gateshead, Bobby came out through locked doors to meet myself and wife Christine. He signed a lovely framed photo of his good self, bought us a drink, and was as ever generous in accommodating fans who became friends. A sad loss in a dreadful year.

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