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Tributes To Popular Pianist Eric Buxton

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

A well known pianist who played in Derby pubs and clubs for 50 years has died, aged 88. Eric Buxton had a “love for entertaining people” and spent many hours playing the piano and organ.

His family have spoken of his exceptional talent. Daughter Shelley Hassall said: “He was a very well-known pianist and organist in Derby.

“He really loved music and had a great interest in it.”

Mr Buxton was born in Derby in 1925 and grew up in Powell Street. He attended Bemrose Grammar School before leaving at the age of 16 to work at Derby’s LMR railway.

“He worked there as a clerk,” said Mrs Hassall. “He worked in the control office all his life until he retired at the age of 59. “It was highly confidential work as he was directing the trains during the war which carried ammunition and the soldiers.”

His love for music was discovered when he was growing up.

Mrs Hassall said: “He had music lessons but he never took any exams. He was so talented.”

His first audience was at St Augustine’s Church, in Normanton, where he played in religious concerts. And it was while playing here that he met Beryle, whom he later married at the church on June 18, 1949.

The couple had two children, Shelley and Julie, and were married for 48 years. Mrs Buxton died in 1997.

Mrs Hassall said: “Dad would play the piano and mum would sing. “He would play war songs and traditional pub songs, even the more current music like Tom Jones’ Delilah.

“Because Dad worked as a clerk, he was not very well paid. He played to supplement our income so we could go on holidays to Cornwall and have a car. But it was something that he loved.

“Whenever we had family get-togethers he would always play the piano. “It was part of his life.”

Mr Buxton played at many pubs and clubs in Derby, including The Bell and Castle and The Half Moon, in Burton Road; Ye Olde Spa Inn, in Abbey Street; The New Inn, in Wyaston; and The Robin, in Mickleover.

And on Sunday evenings he played the organ at the Keir Hardy social club for people who were ballroom dancing.

Mr Buxton was also a finalist in the Pub Pianist of the Year competition twice in the early 1980s.

Mrs Hassall said: “His claim to fame was playing for comedian Arthur Askey when he appeared at the Pennine Hotel, in Derby, in the late-1970s.

“He had a tune which he came out to called the Bee Song. It was very hard and Dad had to learn to play it. “I remember him being very nervous but he did brilliantly.”

After Mrs Buxton’s death, the family moved to Cornwall. Mr Buxton moved there in the summer of 1999. He continued playing the piano until his late-70s at pubs in Cornwall.

Mrs Hassall added: “My dad was the dearest, kindest family man. He was a generous man and we all miss him so much.”

Mr Buxton also leaves six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

He died at Penzance Hospital from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.



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