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Ron Cottrell died a few weeks ago, in September 2014. His wife, Diane, wanted to make sure that colleagues from Pebble Mill knew about his death.
Ron was a musician, a drummer, with various bands, and he had a long association with the BBC. In fact he was in the orchestra for the original Come Dancing, the forerunner of Strictly, which was broadcast from Penns Hall, and presented by Katie Boyle.
As a young man with the Sonny Rose Orchestra, he broadcast from the old BBC Broad Street studios in Birmingham. The older members took him to the pub opposite, across a busy road and he was horrified that they’d left it so late to go back to the studio and they just made it with a minute to spare.
Again with Sonny at Penns Hall, Sutton Coldfield, Ron backed a young Morecambe and Wise. Ernie was very excited about their forthcoming television debut which sadly bombed, before they found success with their second attempt.
Diane and Ron met in 1966 at the newly-opened and highly glamorous Savoy Hotel Birmingham: Diane’s first and lasting impression was of a beautiful white pleated dress shirt, immaculate evening dress and a smiling face. He played with Maurice Udluff’s band who alternated with Harry Engleman’s band. One night he played all night because the Harry Engleman band got into a bitter argument during a card game in their interval and the drummer stormed off leaving Harry high and dry.
On another occasion he recalled a cold, dismal room with the band assembled to rehearse with Tommy Cooper. When Tommy suddenly entered they all collapsed into fits of laughter – which apparently was the usual response when Tommy walked into a room – and one which Tommy always failed to understand.
In 1972 Ron moved into perhaps the happiest and most fulfilling period of his musical career when he joined the Geoff Gough Big Band. The music was demanding and exciting and the band was full of characters.
Diane Cottrell would like to hear people’s memories of working with Ron, so please add a comment here, if you knew Ron.
(Thanks to Diane and to, Diane and Ron’s son, Simon, for sharing their photographs and memories).