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Tommy Burton should be in Bilston's top ten

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: August 05, 2014

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I NOTED Phil Clement's letter in The Bugle (July 17 edition) re his 10 famous Bilston people.

A notable absentee from the list was Tommy Burton, a wonderful musician and entertainer.

Tom was born in Hartshorne Street, Bilston, and became an international jazz star travelling the world.

He was 'instrumental' (what a word!) in starting Rock and Roll in the area with the notable Tommy Burton Combo, who performed to packed houses around the Midlands.

Tommy was landlord of the Lord Raglan pub in the 1970's. He became known for his jazz, playing piano and singing in Fats Waller style adding "Risque" comedy and Music Hall songs to his programme. Tom was a larger than life character on and off stage.

I was privileged on July 16 this year to be invited to the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Tommy at the Trumpet, Bilston, 60 yards from Hartshorne Street where Tommy was born.

I was asked by one of the organisers, Barry Hodgson, to take part in the ceremony by reading out my tribute to Tommy, which I wrote in 2000 at the time of his death.

I was proud to read it and am still proud to have had association with Tommy booking his band on a few occasions, including two notable nights in the 1980's at the Springvale Club with jazz giant George Nelly who named Tommy thereafter as The Great Burton.

My tribute The Entertainer is one of many poems in my book Poetry for Pleasure.

I think Tommy Burton merits a place in Bilston's famous people.

Others of note I can think of are two players of Wolves golden 1950's era, George Showell and Bill Shorthouse.

The famous Rock and Roll singer Danny Cannon (of the Ramrods), Mike Kinsey (actor) from It Ain't Half Hot Mom! and Only Fools and Horses. Perhaps we should extend the list to Bilston's top 20.

Reg Summerfield,

Netherleigh, Becket Street, Bilston.

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