Tribute paid to ‘brilliant’ Northampton jazz musician who toured with Gene Pitney

Pete Cox 'Northampton'Jazz musician (bass), died 2014
Pete Cox 'Northampton'Jazz musician (bass), died 2014

A “brilliant’ Northampton jazz musician, who was touring with Gene Pitney when the American singer died, has passed away at the age of 70.

Bass player Pete Cox had appeared with many well-known musicians around the UK and toured the world with Mr Pitney. As well as performing jazz, he had written and arranged music for theatre shows across the county since 1969, including The Royal in Northampton and The Castle in Wellingborough.

Mr Cox, who lived in Roe Road, in Abington, passed away in December. He was divorced and leaves a son, Alan, and daughter, Natalie.

One musician friend, keyboard player and arranger Maurice Merry, said: “He was a nice guy, a clever man, and a brilliant musician. Pete was a very forthright person and you always knew when he was around.

“He was from a musical background; his parents used to own the popular Midland Music Centre shop in Cowper Street, off Kettering Road, so he was basically brought up in there. His first instrument was a viola but he later took up the bass.”

Mr Merry said he first met Mr Cox when he was asked to provide music for The Royal Theatre’s production of My Gentleman, Pip, in 1969, which had in its cast Roger Lloyd-Pack, best known for his later role as Trigger in Only Fools and Horses.

They met Mr Pitney soon after and toured the world together, including Australia and America, throughout the 1970s.

Mr Merry said: “Pete was into modern jazz but he knew his classical music too. If we were on the road and making long journeys back home late at night, we would quiz each other on things like the first names of classical composers and he knew them all.

“He was always very popular too. Past friends have been calling me to find out what happened and when the funeral is taking place. Unfortunately, however, I have no details yet.”

One of Mr Cox’s last major tours was a UK reunion with Mr Merry and Mr Pitney in 2006, during which the 24 Hours From Tulsa singer suddenly died in a hotel room in Cardiff.

Mr Merry said: “It was very traumatic and Pete was unbelievably upset. We started to play together less after that, but he still performed around the town until only a few years before he died.”