Pianist Reg celebrates 50 years of playing at Bilston's Trumpet
A jazz musician who inspired one of Slade’s biggest hits has celebrated performing for 50 years at a Black Country pub.
Reginald Andrew Keirle, known as ‘Reg’ or ‘Keirley’, started playing piano at The Trumpet, High Street in Bilston, in the summer of 1968.
The pianist was the inspiration behind one of Slade’s biggest hits – Skweeze Me Pleeze Me – after Jim Lea and Don Powell saw him perform on a Sunday night at The Trumpet, according to Don Powell’s Look What I Dun autobiography.
Friends and family gathered around Mr Keirle on July 30 to celebrate the 82-year old’s legacy at the pub.
Mr Keirle said: “It was a complete surprise to me at The Trumpet.
“I thought it would be an ordinary Monday night but it was great.
WATCH Reg play the piano:
“Usually, you only get half a dozen in and when I went in it was packed.
“Musicians, old friends of mine were there – they’ve all become nice friends.”
Reg started performing at the pub after watching Wolverhampton artist Tommy Burton and Dave Holmes – who was the first drummer to play at The Trumpet.
Reg has played for free at the pub ever since a fateful Monday night.
He added: “Tommy Burton was playing there and I went down to hear him and then I took over when he left and in the early days I was doing everything – including painting the walls just to get it going.
“It was only three, four nights a week but when a landlord came he was determined to have jazz on every night of the week.
“It was good and I played there on Friday once a week and there’s one week night – on Monday – and hardly anybody came along so I did it for nothing, except for the tray and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
The 82-year old said he still couldn’t make ‘sense’ of music, but said he played ‘by ear’, adding: “We had a piano at home and as a kid I used to pick out the odd tune.
“I had lessons when I was a kid from Miss Hill. I used to watch her fingers on the piano but I couldn’t make any sense of music myself.
“I had a go myself and learnt a trick every fortnight – what to do with your fingers – and there’s a lot of fortnights in 50 years and you gradually learn a style.”
Reg said he preferred ‘traditional jazz’ which he could sing along to.
He said: “I like traditional jazz in the style and songs as well – I like singing swing numbers.
“I sing what I can play. If I can’t play it I don’t sing it. I just play by ear.”
Mr Keirle’s other job was at the Express & Star as a commercial artist.
He said: “I went to college and I went to the army for a few years. I had a year off and then I worked at the Express & Star as an artist. I was there for about five years until I got the sack for being late.”
Reg, who was born in Waterloo Road in Wolverhampton, now lives in Redditch with his wife Linda Clement Keirle and still performs at The Trumpet every Monday night – thanks to an alcoholic inspiration.
He said: “Every Monday night I’m there at about 9.15am until 11.15pm.
“I like beer, that’s my inspiration. I like the pub, the beer and I like playing the piano – that’s good enough for me.”