Graeme Bell, one of the founding father’s of Australian jazz, has died at the age of 97.
Graeme was born in Richmond, Melbourne in 1914. His father John performed musical comedy and music hall on the ABC radio and his mother Mary was a contralto recitalist with Dame Nellie Melba. He was 11 when he learned piano.
Graeme Bell started his recording career in the 1940s and in 1947 released the ‘Czechoslovak Journey’ through Supaphon Records in Prague.
That led to a tour of the UK in 1948 where he founded the Leicester Square Jazz Club.
In 1955 Graeme returned to Australia and settled in Sydney in 1957. When The Who’s rock opera Tommy was performed in Australia in March 1973 Graeme played The Narrator.
Graeme’s younger brother Roger was also a Jazz musician. Roger died in 2008.
Graeme Bell has been recognised for his services to music twice by Queen Elizabeth II. In 1978 he was awarded the Member of the British Empire (MBE) and then in 1990 an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). ARIA inducted him into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1997.
He married three times. He is survived by third wife Dorothy, daughter Christina, son Jason and two granddaughters.