RIP Alan Bates 1925-2023 (Black Lion / Candid Records) – and Tributes

We have heard the sad news from a number of sources that Alan Bates, who founded the Black Lion label in 1968, and acquired the Candid label in 1989 and transformed it – and sold it to Exceleration Music in 2021 – has died at the age of 97.

In the video above, of a speech given to the United Nations on International Jazz Day, he explained the history of his involvement in jazz. His influence on many musical careers was profound and transformational: Clare Teal, Stacey Kent. Jamie Cullum (both parties tell the story of that signing HERE) Alex Wilson, Jacqui Dankworth… The breadth and the jewels of the Black Lion/Candid label are visible in the discography below. Alan Bates was honoured with the BBC Jazz Award for Services to Jazz in 2008.

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Our sympathies to Nieves and Sheela and to friends and colleagues.

Alan Bates 26th August 1925 – 30th January 2023

LINK: Candid Records Discography

TRIBUTES (We will add more as they come in):

Siggi Loch: If there ever was a true jazzman in the record business, it was Alan Bates. I had the privilege to meet him first back in 1962 when I became a label manager for Jazz at Philips and admired his enthusiasm and professionally in his work ever since. I truly will miss our regular talks about music and football! 

Oliver Weindling: Alan Bates set standards for British jazz labels that, for me, was an inspiration when developing Babel Label. So to meet the founder of Black Lion Records, one of my first gateways into jazz, was a privilege. Then looking at how he, with flair, developed the Candid catalogue to not just show off the original innovative releases, but to invest in, rather than exploit, British talent. And I was grateful for his being at the end of the phone when I needed advice.

Sebastian Scotney: Whereas a lot of the advice one receives is of questionable value, I will always remember with extreme gratitude what Alan Bates said to me walking from a restaurant to his office in Barnes in about 2005. I was attempting to run an organisation called the Jazz Development Trust; his words to me were clear and to the point: “Until you have done your own thing, nobody is going to know who you are.” It still resonates with me. Thank you Alan.

Adam Sieff: I first met Alan Bates in the early noughties during my time at Sony Jazz, when Candid was on a high with some exceptional UK artists. I particularly enjoyed visiting him at his elegant Castelnau HQ with its garage piled high with stock. I recall a particularly long lunch in Soho that covered everything from the history and legacy of jazz music to his deeply flawed accounting system and the dream of putting together a music and retail venue. I was always impressed with his deep knowledge and his boundless enthusiasm. He was a big macher on the UK jazz scene, which is certainly a sadder place without him.

Dickon Stainer (*): Alan Bates was a magnificent music man. Funny, determined, artistic and brilliantly single-minded. Above all, he was an artists man, and he treasured jazz. I was very very lucky to have met him. He ran rings around me. He was also the only person I ever knew who called drumming “tuneful”. He was a remarkable spirit, those who knew him will remember him with a smile and with undoubted admiration. He will be sorely missed but as a cricket fan he will know he had a superb innings.

(*) Published here courtesy of Sheela Berry

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