Joe Allen Pianist Jimmy Hardwick Dies
Jimmy Hardwick, the long-serving pianist at favourite London theatreland restaurant, Joe Allen in Covent Garden, has died after a short illness at the age of 88.
After playing on the restaurant’s opening night in January 1977, he became the eaterie’s resident pianist and performed to diners for six nights a week over the next 37 years, often to some of musical theatre’s most illustrious names.
In a statement on its website, the restaurant paid tribute, saying: “Throughout his colourful career, every actor who ever performed in London’s West End has been serenaded by Jimmy at one time or another and he adord them all. Jimmy was a true legend of the musical, theatrical and restaurant world and will be sadly missed”.
In other tributes, Stephen Fry described him as “an institution. Always smiling. Always charming. I shall miss him dreadfully”, while the Orange Tree Theatre’s artistic director-designate Paul Miller said: “Terribly sorry to hear that the legendary pianist has died. He’ll be much missed” and theatre critic Nicholas de Jongh said: “He was Joe Allen’s one fixture and fitting in the transient world of restaurants, much adored by regulars across the decades”