Ron Rubin obituary: ‘Impeccable’ Hampstead jazz musician who played with George Melly and at the Cavern Club’s opening night

Ron Rubin. Picture: Dominic Rubin

Ron Rubin. Picture: Dominic Rubin - Credit: Archant

Ron Rubin, jazz musician, and long time resident of Hampstead, died suddenly on 14th April. He was born on 8th July 1933 in Liverpool, to David and Louise Rubin.

In his own words (written to introduce his book A Medley of Musical Limericks), he “went to Liverpool College and to Law School where he was exceedingly slothful, and far too interested in playing jazz musick and generally larking about”.

“And his teachers were wroth with him, and there was a fair amount of gnashing of teeth,” he wrote. “Wherefore Ron arose and shook the dust of that city from off his feet, and became a soldier in the army of the King. And when the prodigal returned he ministered under his father as Chief Scribe for six summers. Then, one day, behold, a Voice called unto him, saying: Hearken! Get thine finger out, Ron, and henceforth follow the True Path of jazz musick.”

In 1959 Ron met his future wife Marie at the Jacaranda Club and in 1961 they moved to London, settling in Hampstead.

In 1957 he had played opening night at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club – with the Merseysippi and Watmough bands – but in London he was at the centre of the British jazz world and played with a wide variety of bands on both piano and double bass.

These included Dick Williams, Brian Leake, the Fairweather-Brown band, Mike Taylor, the Group Sounds Five and Bruce Turner with whom he accompanied many visiting American musicians.

Ron also did a number of stints at the Indigo Jazz Club in Palma de Mallorca, which had recently been opened by Ronnie Scott and Robert Graves. In 1968 he and Marie even moved out to Mallorca with their four children, staying three years.

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He toured with musicians such as Lennie Best, John Picard, Sandy Brown, Colin Purbrook, Alex Welsh and Wild Bill Davison, and also accompanied well known singers and performers such as Billy Eckstine and Donald Swann.

He made regular recordings, and Humphrey Lyttleton reviewed his bass on the album Coe-Existence as being in “that select category whose sound, intonation and swing merit the term ‘impeccable’”.

Ron was also with George Melly and John Chilton’s Feetwarmers for four years, first on bass, then on piano.

He was a great humourist and loved words almost as much as music. He was a much published haiku and limerick writer and in his later years spent many a happy hour writing his, unpublished, Jottings from a Jazzman’s Journal, an anecdotal record of his life as a musician.

He is survived by his wife and family who deeply love and miss him.

Deborah Aita is one of Ron’s children.