RIP Bobby Wellins (1936-2016)

Bobby Wellins' timeless reading of 'Starless and Bible Black' from Stan Tracey's Under Milk Wood jazz suite [1965] is often cited as the single most memorable British jazz solo, possessing the kind of ethereal beauty that prompted his fellow saxophonist Dave Gelly to declare that Bobby possessed "one of the most beautiful tenor saxophone sounds in the history of the instrument." It helped to make Bobby a true icon of British jazz.

Robert Coull Wellins was born in Glasgow in 1936 into a showbusiness family and his father tutored him on the alto saxophone from the age of 12. After local gigs, Bobby played on in the RAF after which he took a path familiar to many jazzmen of his generation, concentrating on tenor-saxophone and moving from one dance band to another via a stint with the colourful race driver-saxophonist Buddy Featherstonehaugh's Quintet alongside Kenny Wheeler.

After still more travelling orchestras, Bobby began to forge a reputation as a modern jazz improviser with Tony Crombie and Tommy Whittle, linking up with Tracey in the 1960s and cementing a relationship that continued off and on until the pianist's death in 2013. He also acquired a series of destructive personal habits that side-lined him for a decade or more. Once sorted, for which he unfailingly thanked his wife Isobel, Bobby made up for lost time, recording extensively, most notably for Jazzizit and Trio, teaching in Chichester, performing his well-received Culloden Suite and traversing the country endlessly to play clubs and festivals. A featured soloist with Charlie Watts' Big Band in the mid-1980s he went on to front his own quartet, appearing often at London's 606 Club.

Warm, witty, and utterly incapable of playing a sour or inelegant note, Bobby Wellins died on 27 October 2016 aged 80 after a long illness. RIP, Bobby.

– Peter Vacher

– Photo by Garry Corbett

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Manhattan Comes To Rottingdean

Unexpected pleasures are the best, even for jazz fans, and...

Read More.....

Saxophonist Alexander Bone wins Kenny Wh…

Twenty-two-year old saxophonist Alexander Bone (above) has been announced as...

Read More.....

LA Fusion stars Spirit Fingers fire-up f…

Virtuosic LA jazz-fusion band Spirit Fingers are set for a...

Read More.....

Call The Cops: Jazzers Run Riot At Bruss…

The annual Brussels Jazz Weekend operates on a gargantuan scale...

Read More.....

Hundred Years Gallery Holds Speaker-Thon

The Hundred Years Gallery, a not-for-profit space showcasing free improvisation...

Read More.....

Babelfish swim to Kings Place for Once U…

Acclaimed jazz-folk group Babelfish are set to launch their new...

Read More.....

Michael Janisch kicks out the jams for n…

Whirlwind Recordings label boss Michael Janisch (above centre) steps back...

Read More.....

Lost Miles Davis Rubberband album snaps …

Rubberband, a previously unissued 1985 album by Miles Davis, is...

Read More.....

Grégoire Tirtiaux and Gratitude Trio lea…

This is a festival where it’s possible to completely miss Kamasi...

Read More.....

Final Bow For The Night Tripper – A Trib…

Refuting the title of his biggest hit, ‘Right Place, Wrong...

Read More.....

Rossano Sportiello rounds out Harriet Co…

For 40 amazing years, the singer Harriet Coleman has presented...

Read More.....

Ronnie Scott’s rolls up to Royal Albert …

Ronnie Scott’s, the iconic London jazz club, will mark its...

Read More.....

Wollny Steals The Night As Moran Breaks …

The first thing to notice were the queues, over 200...

Read More.....

Steam Down, Emma-Jean Thackray and Leafc…

Stroud’s reputation as the alternative hippy hub of the Cotswolds...

Read More.....

Andrew McCormack returns with Graviton: …

Award-winning pianist Andrew McCormack storms back with the second volume...

Read More.....

Jazz Cafe sax summit kicks off second Lo…

Following its successful inaugural run last year, the London Saxophone...

Read More.....

McFerrin Moves Estonian Voices To Jubila…

The second half of Tallinn’s 10-day Jazzkaar festival was particularly...

Read More.....

Herbie Hancock, Terri Lyne Carrington an…

The line-up for this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival is...

Read More.....

Williams And Mancio Find Home With Subli…

  Kate Williams and her distinctive Four Plus Three, that’s her...

Read More.....

McBride, Porter, Reeves and Jazz At Linc…

Although it is a respected cultural event throughout the Caribbean...

Read More.....

Major unreleased Tubby Hayes Fontana alb…

Christmas comes early for fans of the late, great Brit-jazz...

Read More.....

Ripsaw Get Rolling

Baritone saxophonist Cath Roberts and guitarist Anton Hunter take their...

Read More.....

Cello Fellows Honsinger, Dixon & Lon…

The fifth annual Chicago Jazz String Summit took place at...

Read More.....

Bristol Jazz Fest launches Crowdfunder l…

The Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival has launched a...

Read More.....

Marcus Miller, Tim Garland and Leïla Mar…

The full line-up for this year’s Manchester Jazz Festival has...

Read More.....

Joshua Redman And Sosa Electrify Spirits…

After last year’s swelter, Cheltenham Festival offered a more temperate climate for...

Read More.....

Friedlander Frames Family Memories At Ka…

  If many contemporary jazz festivals opt for maximum numbers, gigs-wise...

Read More.....

Bonsai band bounce out for album and UK…

Progressive jazz five-piece Bonsai – formerly known as Jam Experiment...

Read More.....

Prieto Exhibits Latin Prowess, While Med…

This 30th edition of the Savannah Music Festival featured a...

Read More.....

Jazz 625 BBC4 Live broadcast and Free St…

With Cheltenham Jazz Festival set for a busy six days...

Read More.....

Steam Down Collective, Sons Of Kemet, Ca…

This year’s Jazz FM Awards ceremony took place at Shoreditch...

Read More.....

Ribot Leads Revolutionary Call At Jazz E…

Portugal’s premier experimental jazz bash, Jazz em Agosto, adopts a...

Read More.....

Cinematic Orchestra, Friday Arena and Ba…

The organisers of this year’s Love Supreme Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....

John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension …

  Kicking off this evening’s set with a high-octane crash through...

Read More.....

Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Lovano and Lu…

This year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, its 27th edition, runs...

Read More.....

Stanley Clarke Captivates With Crowd-Sur…

As Return to Forever bass legend Stanley Clarke (pictured above) opened...

Read More.....

Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Manhattan Comes To Rottingdean https://t.co/gAWb7OSm6e @GeorgeColligan @Rottingdean @eddiemyer1 https://t.co/aElIbOMfLj
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Catch the stunning exhibition of African-American photojournalist Ernest C. Withers’ work at the Michael Hoppen Gal… https://t.co/DOVT0ZnZTc
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA