Successor to Cygnet Productions
ASSOCIATIONS AND FRIENDS
As I am very loth to discard it at this difficult time, I am moving my Encomium for my friend and collaborator Richard Rains to this Section, where it will remain at least until our joint publication (with Charlie Crump) is published later this year.
It is with great sadness that I must note the passing of Richard Rains from, as I understand it, a severe chest infection leading to incurable complications. I had not seen him since the latter part of last year, at the annual Reading get-together of the remaining British members and friends of the now disbanded International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, where he was clearly far from in perfect health. He has, latterly, been confined to bed; most uncharacteristically for so normally exuberant a character.
My relationship with Richard goes back to the nineteen-sixties. Having taken out a subscription to the Magazine “Storyville” I was invited by the Editor, Laurie Wright, to attend a gathering at the home of the musician and record technician John R.T. Davies in Burnham, Buckinghamshire. I was offered a lift by Bruce Bastin and was privileged to make the acquaintance of a number of other record collectors and researchers; among them was Richard and we immediately found that we had much interest in common. I invited him to a listening session at my home where he met George Cherrington, another great character, now long gone who was, at that time, involved with Jazz Journal in a small way. They immediately became great friends and remained so for the rest of George’s life.
Regular listening sessions related to our prime jazz interest, the identification of classic jazz musicians either unknown to or dubiously identified in the standard discographies. These sessions drew in further erudite individuals, giving the benefit of a wider scope of knowledge and available recordings, preferably “78”s but not necessarily: Charlie Crump, Bruce Bastin, Raymond Batt, John Holley, Roy Middleton, Ernest Virgo and occasionally others, meeting alternately at each others’ houses; and our listening was enhanced by connection to a wider circle of acquaintances who were prepared to provide access to their collections by tape or cassette. At the same time Richard and I continued a more concentrated attention to such sessions or groups of sessions as continued to puzzle us.
I am proud to believe that, over the years, our listening investigations led to some useful discoveries, originally published in “Storyville” and, as time went by, in the series of books which I started with Roy Middleton, under the Cygnet imprint; and, latterly following Roy’s withdrawal, as Chris Hillman Books. In all of these Richard was involved as collaborator, proof-reader and, essentially, nit-picker. Our next book, in collaboration with Charlie Crump, forthcoming later in the Year and to be published as “Dixieland Days”, will be dedicated to Richard who had an appreciable hand in its being close to completion already.
Richard and I always hit it off socially; our enjoyment of wine and good food allied to robust humour made that side of our friendship equally fruitful, with my wives, Brenda and, latterly, Margaret equally at ease with his wife Barbara, a splendid cook and hostess; first in Golder’s Green and since Richard moved his work as a barrister to Devon, then to retire there, where we were always welcome. When I moved down to Devon, partly on account of Richard’s presence there, and met Margaret, it was our privilege to have him as my best man at our wedding; that is now twenty years ago and oh, how quickly those years have passed! Sadly, our meetings have become less frequent as we have grown older but it is still a great shock to know that I shall never see him or listen to jazz, or drink wine, with him again. Our feelings go out to Barbara in her time of sorrow.
Oh! Didn’t He Ramble! But the Butcher cut him down.
Chris Hillman, Richard Rains, Paul Swinton, John Collinson
(John also no longer with us)