RIP Geoff Castle (1949-2020)

Sebastian writes: We are very saddened to hear of the death on Wednesday 15 January of a pivotal and immensely popular figure in British jazz, keyboard player/pianist Geoff Castle. The cause of death was complications associated with a long-term heart condition, but the overwhelming sense can only be one of shock: he had been until very recently as active, as busy, as generous with his time and his talent as he ever was. He was a  member of bands such as Ian Carr’s Nucleus, and Paz. He was also an endlessly patient and kind educator, particularly working with singers. We will be adding tributes and memories, and details of a celebration that will happen at some point. In the meantime the jazz community and this site have lost a dear friend, a huge musician and a very kind man. In sadness. FULL BIOGRAPHY.

Geoff Castle. Publicity photo

LINKS: Geoff Castle’s website  Geoff’s tribute for LJN to Stan Robinson Geoff’s tribute for LJN to Frank Holder Roger Farbey’s Ian Carr and Nucleus website

Categories: News

12 replies »

  1. So sad to read this.
    I have been so honoured to meet, and listen to, totally inspirational musicians through being married to Ray.
    Geoff was simply an incredible talent.
    The world is a sadder place without his playing.

  2. Was very saddened to hear this, only spoke to him couple of weeks ago.We played a lot together with Nucleus ,Paz , and our own things.He lived in N.Z. for a year 1984. We recorded and played a lot then. Was a good friend.. Brian Smith…

  3. Geoff joined us many times in our function band – where it turns out we barely scratched the surface of his talent. It wasn’t until we saw him play at his birthday gig at the 100 club that we realised what an incredible muso Geoff was. We had many great gigs with Geoff and many laughs with him. I’ll never forget his tangled bag of cables, charts everywhere (that he never needed), a couple of drinks on the side, inspirational solos, a gentle lovely man. Happy days. Geoff you will be greatly missed. Love Bill & Wendy xxxxx

  4. This was a shock. I was supposed to be working with him last Sunday and characteristically he played down the seriousness of the op he was going to have. I first met and played with him in Nucleus touring Germany where he spent the first couple of days sleeping in the back of Ian Carr’s minibus which we were travelling in. He’d been in the studio recording with Ian Dury immediately prior to coming away on tour.
    It was my first real experience playing with really good musicians and Geoff again characteristically creating space for me to find my feet, and his tune “Solar Wind” in that repertoire was a masterpiece of understated creative writing ,balance and wisdom , which sounded and felt as fresh and contemporary to play on his 60th birthday at the 606 as it had done on my 27th birthday in Berlin.

    Quiet and understated as he was, I well remember doing a gig with his band for London University when the bass player didn’t show, so we played as a trio, working quite hard to get the gig happening.When it came to being paid, the Arts Officer said “As there was only three of you, I’m paying you three quarters of the fee”, to which Geoff replied with great economy “Do you want to step outside?”.We got the full fee.

    Geoff had no pretention around his work and had a very pragmatic approach to it, despite his enormous talent and perception .He just got on with the gig, no matter how high or low and gave it his best shot.He was interested in science, politics and current affairs, and had sound judgement around it.I feel lost for words to say how sad I am that he has gone from this world, but grateful for what he gave to me and others when he was in it.We’ll raise a beer for you Geoff.

    • A lovely post Tim… We’re still in such shock about this as Geoff has been such a huge part of mine and Steve’s life for so long. He was at our wedding and we’ve had some magical musical and humorous times with him…. Obviously he lives on in his exceptional music x

  5. So sorry to hear of Geoff’s passing. A lovely man; gentle and funny, generous, knowledgeable , extremely talented , with a great sense of humour

    We’ll all miss him

  6. Really sorry and saddened to hear this. Geoff was a brilliant musician and friend to my Dad, Frank Holder, who also passed away over two years ago now. Geoff was an inspiration and I know will be sadly missed by many, my families thoughts are with his family and friends during this very sad time. We hope you are now playing sweet music with my Dad and all the wonderful talented musicians that heaven is now blessed with.

    • Loud shirts, nuclear coffee, NEVER a sharp pencil to hand, or a rubber that worked – and I don’t think I ever saw the top of the piano, permanently buried under teetering piles of charts… Working with Geoff was always a joy – so generous with his knowledge and creativity, both as a coach and a collaborator. It was a privilege to write and record with him. We had a lot of fun together, and I will miss him very much.

  7. I saw Geoff at various London gigs in the mid-1970s when he was an emerging name. In the early 1980s the Jazz Centre Society adopted a policy of bringing an American musician over and touring them with a British band. It fell to me to organise the tours. We decided to approach Jimmy Giuffre for the 1982-3 tour. His music had shifted somewhat from his Four Brothers and ‘Train and A River’ past and now had a fusion edge to it. We approached Geoff to be the keyboard player alongside Ron Matthewson and a newly emerging Steve Arguelles; not a regular working band. But musically it worked extremely well. If I recall, they did a two week tour and a week at Pizza Express. The band was ideal for Giuffre’s 80’s writing with Geoff adding synthesiser at appropriate points. It should have been recorded. Geoff was a much-underappreciated player, easy to work with and very adaptable. He deserved to be heard more widely. RIP

  8. sorry to hear about Geoff’s passing…I bought an old Fender Rhodes from him in the early ’70’s and he offered to put it in his car and drop me off with it at Euston Station which did me a huge help (I didn’t realise the size of those pianos back then)
    I remember the tracks he played on with Ian Carrs Nucleus we even tried to replicate those tunes in our lacklustre ‘jazz-rock’ conglomerate here in southport lol anyway sorry to hear this news (belatedly) RIP

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