Farewell, Cliff Harper

Cliff Harper. Photo: Sid Carter

Went to the Bugle at Botley, in Hampshire, today for the regular Sunday midday jazz gig with Cliff Harper and the Bugle Boys. A good gig, well attended, with reed player Dave Bowen on the front line, accompanied on some numbers by clarinettist Roy Sear. Only one thing was missing: Cliff, who died last week.

Cliff was a jazz bass player who had been part of the Southampton jazz scene for as long as most people can remember. He was one of the musicians who had helped keep alive the long tradition of jazz in the village of Botley.

For some years he had led a quartet consisting of a rhythm section – drums, keyboard and bass – plus a front-liner changing every week. Cliff was the longest serving member of the band. Drummer Mike Hutton died a few years ago and was succeeded by Terry Francis, who has now retired and is followed by Roy White. Pianist/keyboard player Dave Lewin had ceded his spot to Alec Andrews. But Cliff played on, in the third pub in the village to host the gig. He will be hugely missed now that he has left us to rejoin his beloved Jane, the jazz singer, whom he so greatly missed after her death nine years ago.

I suppose we’ll miss Cliff’s awful jokes. We’ll certainly miss the man, whom we had probably grown to regard as there forever, behind his big double bass. Rest in peace, Cliff.


6 thoughts on “Farewell, Cliff Harper

  1. So sorry to hear of Cliff’s passing. He was a friend of long standing. Met him and Jane many years ago when we all caravanned at Three Legged Cross, near Ringwood. You’ll be sorely missed dear Cliff – a truly wonderful guy and a very fine musician. John from Harlow, Essex.

  2. This is Cliff’s son Chris, thank you for your very warm and kind tribute to a man who fought long and hard to keep the jazz scene alive in Botley. Now he’s off to keep jazz alive in that great Gig in the Sky with Mom. God speed…

  3. I would also like to add my thanks for your warm and moving tribute to my dad. It’s funny how many people mention his awful jokes. He had an awful lot of them. It’s no coincidence that he died on what would have been his beloved wife Jane’s birthday. Cliff was a fine musician, he told me that himself, but he is and will forever be sorely missed.

  4. I’m not ashamed to say that I have shed tears after learning of Cliff’s passing. I bought my first proper guitar and amplifier from him during his stint at John Beirne’s Music shop in Shirley, Southampton in 1962 – nearly 52 years ago. His jokes are legendary! I do hope that someone is looking after his dog. I hope to see you at his funeral – be prepared for a big turnout!

    1. Alvern Ember, who will also be known to most Southampton jazz fans, has generously given at least a short-term home to Cliff’s Jack Russell.

  5. Sorry – it should have been taken as read that my sincerest condolences go to Chris and Richard Harper, and all Cliff’s friends. He will very very sadly missed by all his friends and colleagues at the Old Edwardians club. I am glad that his dog is being looked after as I know that he wasn’t well last month. Unfortunately Cliif didn’t do a Spike Milligan – “I told you I was ill” ! – so we were not prepared for the shock. He told us that his dog was ill! I’m certain he’ll smile at the irony!

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