Obituary: Stan Greig, jazz drummer, 82

Stan Greig was described as a 'spectacular pianist and drummer'
Stan Greig was described as a 'spectacular pianist and drummer'
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STAN Greig, pianist and jazz drummer, has died, aged 82.

Born in Joppa on August 12, 1930, the son of a piano tuner and repairer, Stan was educated at Edinburgh’s Royal High School, which was also where his long musical career began.

He taught himself to play the piano when he was 14 in his father’s Abbeyhill piano-tuning shop by copying the notes on his favourite records. He then joined a band formed by fellow school pupils and they used to rehearse in the front room of his family’s Portobello home.

Stan had fond memories of carting the band’s equipment, including drums and double bass, home on public transport. He used to say he took to playing his father’s drums “as the pianos I encountered were so poor”.

His bandmates were clarinettist Sandy Brown and trumpeter Al Fairweather, and together they became known as the Royal High School Gang.

The school let the band play in the playground while a mock general election was held in 1945. They got their first taste of live jazz at gigs in the West End Café in Shandwick Place.

For some years they played at pubs and clubs in and around Edinburgh. One regular venue was Saturday night dances at Dalhousie Castle in Midlothian.

Then, in the early 1950s, the trio tried their luck in London.

Stan joined up with the Ken Coyler band in 1954 and over the years he was a member of many notable bands and played with such famous jazz figures as Humphrey Lyttelton, Acker Bilk, Bruce Turner and George Melly. He was involved with the London Jazz Festival and the Scottish Jazz Federation, and a prominent member of the jazz scene both in London and across the country.

In an interview in 2000, he told the News: “Eight of us went down to London and I’m the only one still going. Apart from a brief spell as a part-time piano tuner, it’s the only trade I’ve ever known.

“A lot of musicians have to take on ordinary jobs to make ends meet, but I’ve been lucky enough to do this professionally all my life.

“I’ve met and worked with so many great people, it’s hard keeping track. I started with Sandy Brown and it all took off from there.”

At the time, he was playing every Tuesday at the Union Bar near King’s Cross station.

“I play in a good-time jazz band and I’m having a great time,” he said.

Digby Fairweather, of the National Jazz Archive and who played with Stan, recalled: “He was a spectacular pianist and drummer who worked his way through the jazz revival.

“He was very much his own man – both musically and personally – and I loved his chunky, direct style on the piano. Stan was witty and was held in high affection by all who played with him.”

Stan was married and divorced twice. He is survived by his ex-wives, two daughters and a son from his first marriage.