Jazz musician Kenny Ball, formerly of Emerson Park, dies aged 82

Kenny Ball

Kenny Ball - Credit: Archant

Jazz legend Kenny Ball has died in hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia, his manager said.

Kenny Ball with Morecambe and Wise

Kenny Ball with Morecambe and Wise - Credit: Archant

Les Squires said the musician, who was 82, died at Basildon Hospital this morning.

The Midnight in Moscow performer lived in Hornchurch for a number of years.

Mr Squires said: “He had been in and out of hospital recently but sadly this time he did not come out, but he was playing to the end.”

Ball is survived by his partner son, Keith, who had joined his father on stage playing with his group The Jazzmen, as well as two daughters.

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Mr Squires added that the musician had continued to perform, having left hospital to play a gig in Germany at the end of January, before being re-admitted.

Ball found fame in the early 1960s with a string of jazz hits including Midnight In Moscow, which got to number two in the charts in 1961 and was also a hit in the United States, selling more than one million copies around the world.

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He became a well-known face on TV with his band featuring regularly on light entertainment shows.

They made numerous appearances on the Morecambe And Wise Show and went on to become the resident band on the popular BBC1 series Saturday Night At The Mill, which was broadcast from Birmingham’s Pebble Mill studios.

He achieved his biggest hit with Midnight In Moscow - effectively his signature tune - but other top 10 hits in the early 1960s were March Of The Siamese Children, The Green Leaves Of Summer and Sukiyaki.

Ball was born in Ilford and, after working as a clerk in an advertising agency in his teens, he began to take music lessons, then played in other people’s bands, going on to form a combo of his own in 1958.

He famously performed at the wedding reception for Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer at Buckingham Palace in 1981.

Last July, he performed at the Brickyard Bar & Grill in South Street, Romford in aid of St Francis Hospice, at a night organised by his son Keith.

What are your memories of Kenny Ball? Leave your tributes below, email ian.weinfass@archant.co.uk or call 020 8477 3796.

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