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GUEST,Graham Bradshaw Obit: Diz Disley (1931-2010) (111* d) RE: Obit: Diz Disley - 22 March 2010 30 Mar 10


By the late 60s and well into the 70s, Diz was one of the biggest draws on the folkscene. He was one of the very few who could absolutely guarantee a Full House.

This was the heyday of the 'folk entertainers' when folk clubs were packed most weeks.

I remember one occasion shortly after I'd moved to Coventry (early 70s) and Diz was playing at one of the Coventry folk clubs on a Friday. We went along and was greeted by, "Dear Boy. Any chance of staying at your gaffe - I;ve got another gig on Sunday so it'll save going back?" No problem. A great weekend was had. We went on a picnic on the Sunday on Bromyard Downs, and he took us to a cider brewery which he had discovered whilst playing at Bromyard Festival.

You went in this long Nissan hut, they gave you a shot glass as you entered, and all down both sides of the hut were barrels of ciders, perries and country wines. And you could taste as many as you wanted.

We staggered out to the exit where they then persuaded us to buy some of this stuff. We bought 2 5 gallon drums (for about 50p a gallon I think) and took it on our picnic. Marvellous. Then drove back to the said gig and arrived at about 8pm (which was Disley time for arriving at gigs), only to find that he should have been there the week before. We stayed anyway and he played a blinder, as well as the guest who probably felt a bit upstaged.

This was standard for Diz - part of folklore at the time about his non-arrivals - and he regularly turned up the wrong week. Nobody seemed to mind though.

I also remember when I was touring round with Derek Sarjeant, and later as the Trio with Hazel, there was a period where us and Diz seemed to follow each other around the clubs. We used to leave messages for each other on the posters in the clubs. When Diz had preceded us, he'd always leave one of his inimitable quips together with a cartoon. I wonder if any of them still survive?

Diz was of course a staff cartoonist on one of the daily papers in the 50s and 60s, his most famous being the one he did of Louis Armstrong, which was regularly trotted out in the Melody Maker whenever there was any mention of Armstrong.

And then there were the early morning drinking haunts in London. There were several occasions where we would meet up back in town after a provincial gig. Diz always knew where you could get a late drink (this was the days of 11.00 closing in pubs). Some very dodgy dives but always great fun.

Funny how it all revolved around drink. He used to drink strong Barley Wine and whisky or brandy chasers. After a full night that would floor most people, he would go home and drink his famous carrot juice "because it was healthy and good for you", so he said.

An amazing man and the last of the great characters. Reading these posts, it is remarkable what a profound effect he had on so many lives. As Paul Downes said, we all seemed to subconsciously absorb Disleyisms. And you still hear people trotting out some of his lines to this day - a good 40 odd years on. The mark of a true legend.

I do hope somebody puts all these stories down for posterity. The Disley story encapsulates the history of the British Jazz and Folk scenes, and the bohemian lifestyle which is now long gone.

It'll never be the same without him.


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