‘The pub became his stage’ - tributes paid to Northamptonshire soul singer Jimmy Powell

Jimmy Powell (left) with Royal Oak landlord Bhola Upreti (centre) and fellow pub patron celebrate St Patrick's Day
Jimmy Powell (left) with Royal Oak landlord Bhola Upreti (centre) and fellow pub patron celebrate St Patrick's Day

Friends have paid tribute to a gregarious soul singer from Northamptonshire who lit up his local pub.

Jimmy Powell, aged 73, recorded and performed throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, and was the lead singer of Jimmy Powell & the 5 Dimensions, a group that briefly included Rod Stewart.

He lived in Blisworth for 15 years opposite the Royal Oak pub, which friends said he treated like his living room.

And he was there the night before he was found at his home having suffered a fall.

Maxine Howell, co-owner of the Royal Oak, said: “He was dancing a jig and had Sweet Caroline by Neil Sedaka on the jukebox. They love a sing-a-long and he was leading it, having a great time.

“That was what he was; full of life and gregarious.

“He loved being the centre of attention, but in a nice way - this was his stage.”

Mr Powell was born in Birmingham and began singing in his teens with a local skiffle group.

In 1961, he became a professional singer when he joined the Rockin’ Berries playing clubs in Germany, including a residency at the Star Club in Hamburg,

Later, as a solo singer, he was paired with backing singers The Dimensions who included Rod Stewart as a harmonica player.

Stewart became frustrated by that he was allowed few opportunities to sing, and left in December 1963.

Compilation CDs of Powell’s recordings with the Dimensions and as a solo artist have included The R’n’B Sensation in 1992, Sugar Babe in 2003 and Progressive Talking Blues in 2007.

When news of his death became known, about 80 villagers gathered at the Royal Oak pub to pay their respects.

Mrs Howell said: “There were men and women here with tears in their eyes. He was a great personality.”