Tributes paid to jazz bar legend, Bill Kyle

Bill Kyle passed away on October 30th. Picture Bill Henry
Bill Kyle passed away on October 30th. Picture Bill Henry
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TRIBUTES have poured in from across the globe for the owner of the city’s only jazz bar after he died suddenly.

Bill Kyle, who has been described by many as the “heart and soul” of The Jazz Bar on Chambers Street, is understood to have passed away on Monday morning after falling ill at his home in the Grange – leaving his friends and family devastated.

The jazz enthusiast, who was brought up in Dunfermline, established himself as a well-known drummer in both Glasgow and the Capital 
before he formed the country’s first fusion band Head in the 1970s.

As well as working as a trainer at IBM in Greenock, Bill established Platform, Scotland’s first non-profit jazz organisation which created a touring circuit for visiting and native jazz groups.

In 2002, the father opened Edinburgh’s first jazz bar in 
the Cowgate, The Bridge Jazz Bar, but just seven months later it burnt down. But three years later, he opened up The Jazz Bar in Chambers Street, which has been a success ever since.

Graham Robb, a bass player who gigged with Bill in the 1970s, paid tribute to his friend. He said: “At one point Bill and I were inseperable, if it wasn’t for him there would be no jazz scene in Scotland.”

Another close friend of Bill’s, jazz writer Charles Alexander, said: “Bill didn’t do things for himself, he did them for other people.”

He said: “He was always keen to support upcoming musicians.”

In a heartfelt message on Facebook, the Jazz Bar confirmed Bill’s passing, and vowed the venue would keep running in his legacy.

A spokesman wrote: “As some of you may have heard already Bill Kyle, not only the owner of The Jazz Bar but its heart and soul, passed away this morning. This is a great shock to his family and friends.

“Many of you will have 
questions concerning the future of JB but we assure you that we will carry on his legacy of having The Jazz Bar at the heart of Edinburgh’s live music scene.”

Yesterday, the bar’s Facebook page was flooded with tributes as jazz lovers from all over the world wrote kind messages.

Rachael Cohen, a jazz star from New York, said: “Really saddened to hear of the death of Scottish drummer and promoter Bill Kyle. Bill tirelessly ran Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar for so many years giving people like me and so many others some of their first gigs as kids coming up on the scene.

“Having just spoken to him in the last few months with plans to gig up there again, this comes as a huge shock. All the best Bill, RIP.”