Celebrated Jazz Pianist Found Dead
Croydon’s foremost jazz pianist Richard Madgwick has died, just days before his 69th birthday.
The respected musician’s body was discovered by friends in his home in Orchard Rise, Shirley. He had been complaining of chest pains.
His death has shocked peers Dick Pearce, Don Weller and Jack Honeyborne, who all paid tribute to his talent, wit and warmth.
Jazz singer Gail Vaughan, who performed with Mr Madgwick aboard the QE2, said: “He was a humorous, educated, intelligent human being whose passing has left a palpable hole, not just in the music industry but in the lives of all who knew him.”
The classically trained pianist quit his job in insurance when he was 30-years-old to pursue a life in music.
His career flourished, peaking during a stint as resident pianist with The Official John Miller Orchestra.
A popular face on the local jazz circuit, the keen cricketer was also the chosen accompanist for some of the country’s leading jazz singers.
“Richard also had a love of languages, which he was able to indulge while on tour,” said Ms Vaughan, who he performed with alongside her late husband, trumpeter Cass Inami.
He enjoyed walking, cycling and was a life-long season ticket holder for Charlton Athletic.
The 68-year-old still played cricket regularly, initially for Comrades CC and then Locksbottom CC, with whom he played his last game on August 11, just five days before his death.
Mr Madgwick was known for his work with a charity acting group, accompanying sessions for shows aimed at senior citizens.
“Aside from his music and sport, he was an extremely loyal man whose quiet generosity and thoughtfulness made his friendship a privilege to anyone fortunate enough to be a recipient,” said Ms Vaughan, who considered the pianist integral part of her “external family”.
Mr Madgwick complained to neighbours of chest pains on August 12 and although he was heard in the flat the following day, he did not attend an engagement on Thursday.
A friend entered the flat just before 3pm Friday (August 16) and found Mr Madgwick on the couch. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
John Miller, nephew of the legendary Glenn Miller, said of Mr Madgwick: “Great fingers, great player, great friend.”
A memorial service has yet to be finalised but is expected to be held at the Oval Tavern in East Croydon.