RIP Les Tomkins (31 Oct 1930 – 26 April 2020)

Michael S. Klein, of the Singers Night community, pays tribute to a stalwart supporter of jazz, especially women singers:

Les Tomkins (picture supplied)

So sad to hear of the passing of one of the most ardent supporters of Singers Night: Les Tomkins, we will remember you with such affection! Not just because you were the first person there and made the order of singing list. Not because you were the most venerable and fair-minded of jazz critics (I would always look forward to a new copy of The Jazz Rag). Not because, as a journalist, you always championed the cause, particularly, of female jazz vocalists, but because above all else you were a humanitarian who loved this creative idiom we call jazz!

You were proud of your Svengali roll of bringing Tubby Hayes to the notice of the music loving fraternity. All those recordings you made with your old Ferrograph tape recorder from the cold back stairs of the old Ronnie Scott club in Gerrard Street, Soho, in the 1960s. These recordings, some of which I was privileged to master for you, are a valuable resource for modern musicians. They were released on a number of occasions by specialist record labels, including Ronnie Scott’s club label, Candid and others.

Your unbounded enthusiasm for singing translated to many unusual performances, and your passion and support for other singers we will remember always. R.I.P. fellow music voyager!

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2 replies »

  1. Re Les Tompkins. I used to enjoy his articles in the Crescendo Magazine, during the 1960’s & beyond. Also his interviews with many of the great names in Jazz. RIP Les. Peter Robinson

  2. Echoing Peter Robinson’s remarks, it was one of Les Tomkins’ achievements to have a lengthy interview with Miles Davis, published in Crescendo in the 1960s, at a time when Miles generally refused requests for interviews.

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