Farewell Charlie Powell : the “Silver Fox” dies at 86

ANOTHER sad loss from Australia’s jazz pantheon (of which there have been too many lately), the Louisiana Shakers’ effervescent trombonist and vocalist, Charles Powell died from leukaemia on 6 August 2012 a few months short of his 87th birthday.

He was still playing with the Shakers at their Sunday afternoon gigs at the Clyde Hotel in Carlton until very recently. Here Charlie sets up for 3 hours of New Orleans jazz at the Clyde on Sunday 20 May this year.

Born in Birmingham in 1925, Charlie left George Huxley’s Jazz Band without its regular trombone player when he came to Australia in 1964. The bands with which he played in Australia include Llew Hird’s Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band, Mabel’s Dream and Peter Cass’s Poppa Cass’s Dixielanders, but in recent years he was best known as a foundation member of The Louisiana Shakers (formed 1994 and still going strong). Here is a film of the Shakers recorded in March 2011 with Charlie playing and singing in his inimitable style.

Charlie, with the Shakers, made many overseas trips as well as touring extensively in Australia. The following was recorded in Zurich in 1998.

As well as playing trombone in the tailgating New Orleans style, Charlie studied classical guitar and also played in the brass section of his son’s rock and roll band.

Musicians, jazz followers, his family and friends outside the music world will all feel the loss of Charlie Powell. None more so than his fellow Shakers:

The Louisiana Shakers are saddened by the loss of a foundation member of the band. Chas, your trombone playing was quirky, your vocals often unfathomable, and your enthusiasm an inspiration to us. Sing On Chas.

There will be a special tribute session at 2.00 pm at the Clyde this coming Sunday, 19 August to remember Charlie and send him off in style. All welcome.

And here Charlie sings “Just a little while to stay here” with the Shakers. The visuals leave a lot to be desired, but the song goes to the heart of the matter.

2 responses to “Farewell Charlie Powell : the “Silver Fox” dies at 86

  1. alfred james cox

    Sad to hear about Charlie, especially, as I now find out, he made his exit just three days after I marked my 80th birthday with enough nostalgia to last another decade. I knew Charlie well during my time as a student at the Birmingham College of Art and Crafts and he performed frequently at the West Midlands Jazz Club that my brother and I had founded at the Old Bull in Digbeth in 1953. We maintained contact until the end of the 50’s by which time I had moved to Africa. A couple of years back I found a website which feautured him and sent off an Email which seems to have disappeared into cyber space.Perhaps it will get through to him now. He was a splendid trombone player and did as much as anyone to make the instrument one of my favourites, as did Jack Teagarden and JJ Johnson. Thanks for the memory.

  2. Gunna miss those inspired vocals of yours Charlie … PH

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