For the benefit of those of you who do not know me I am Norman’s elder
brother – Martin.
I was born in Hull in 1938 and Norman in 1942 in wartime after Dad had
been posted away
with the East Yorkshire Regiment to Kenya where he stayed until 1946.
to say the least difficult and a telegram was sent to Dad to tell him
of Norman’s birth but it got
crossed with another, so the one he got read ‘Have been decorated’. A
also went astray, and advised that Daughter Jacqueline had been
So Dad arrived back from the war in 1946 believing he had a son and a
daughter only to find
he had 2 sons and that Jacqueline had become Norman. Dad
had been a jazz band drummer
and xylophonist as a hobby, in the 30s, so it came as no surprise to
him when Norman began
using his knife and fork as drumsticks at the table. At the
age of 10 Norman had his first drumkit,
(we’d moved into a bungalow in Hornsea on the coast by then), and very
rapidly he taught himself
using 78 records of all the Big Bands – Ted Heath - Ken Mac – Eric
Delaney – Kenton –
Harry James – you all know the line up, it was a wonderful era, aside
from the Trad. Jazz bands
who all came to the local Floral Hall dances. These
included Len Manley, a local band with a
great Yorkshire following, which should really have gone national.
Eventually Norman persuaded Len’s drummer to let him sit in,
and that was I suppose where his destiny began.
Dad as usual knew the local Forces Recruiting Officer, he always knew
someone who mattered,
and he arranged for Norman then aged 14 to join the Royal Marines
School of Music at Deal
on a 12 year contract.
I am pleased to see the RMB contingent here to-day as I know that
Norman made many lasting
friendships during his time at Deal, and the overseas tours they made
expanded his horizons.
One of the highpoints of his career with RMB was the Edinburgh Tattoo
in 1962. Lt. Col
Vivian Dunn O.C. at the time had seen Eric Delaney’s routine of jumping
on his Timps and
drumming with his feet. Lt. Col Viv Dunn arranged for
Norman’s Timps to be secured on
the back of a long wheel base landrover and with the BBC cameras
rolling he was driven
out suitably harnessed out of the Castle gate onto the parade ground at
towards the Royal Mile, accompanying the Band who were marching and
However, when the landrover braked to turn round he very nearly came to
certainly could not have tap danced on the Timps.
He never met Eric Delaney, but I did recently, he is 81 and still
performing with The Squadronaires
Royal Air Force Big Band around the country still playing Skin Deep
with his usual gusto. I went
to his dressing room at the Pavilion in Lytham St. Annes where we live
when he appeared, with the
Squads in February to tell him about Norman and that Norman was always
grateful to Eric for the
publicity he received from the Tattoo experience.
Among the multitude of gigs Norman told us about, after the Marines
came a season with
Danny la Rue and another with Ronnie Corbett before he joined the
TV and films included the original Z Cars music, Orient Express,
Superman and many
others too numerous to list.
And the rest I believe is well known to all of you who worked and
supped and ate and laughed
and lived with him. Many of you knew him better than I and I
shall leave it to you to complete the story.
On behalf of Norman’s son Mark, daughter in law Sue and the other
members of his family
I want to thank all of you who gave him support during the long
struggle with his illness and to
Jenny for her fidelity care and long vigils until the end.
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