Notification Settings

Subscribe to one or all notification sources from this one place.


Subscribe to our newsletter to get the day's top stories sent directly to you.

Saxophonist ties knot with first love at 74

When musician Mike Burney looked into the eyes of his bride and they promised to love each other forever – in both sickness and in health – the words could not have been more poignant.

Saxophonist ties knot with first love at 74

The saxophonist, who has performed with some of the music industry's greats, is battling cancer and faces a gruelling course of radiotherapy in his fight for survival.

The illness has stopped him indulging in one of his life's loves – playing the saxophone.

But he was determined it would not stop him walking his first love down the aisle – and now the 74-year-old from Walsall has sweetheart Sue Jeffs at his side as his wife.

Sealed with a kiss – the happy couple

Mr Burney, of The Butts, has met and performed with a range of music legends – ranging from Rat Pack star Sammy Davies Jnr, American jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, swing band leader

Billy Eckstine and jazz singer Mel Torme, through to pop king Cliff Richard and UK singer Engelbert Humperdinck.

But despite his passion for music and jazz, Mr Burney is currently unable to play the saxophone due to his battle with cancer, as he fears it could cause further damage.

He has a tumour resting on his pelvis, for which he has undergone surgery but medics were unable to remove it. He must now begin radiotherapy treatment at the beginning of August in the hope it will shrink the tumour.

He said: "I've had a few problems and she's looked after me. Sue's got Parkinson's too, so I also look after her.

"I've got cancer – it's a tumour sitting on my pelvis. I went for an operation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, but it was unsuccessful as they couldn't get it out.

"I'm now starting radiotherapy in August to try to shrink it."

Despite battling cancer Mr Burney was desperate to make the first love of his life Sue his wife, and the pair married at Walsall Registry Office in Hatherton Road.

The star described the happiest day of his life as 'wonderful'.

"I love her and she loves me – and at my age I need someone to look after me," he joked. Sue, 56, said she was 'still floating' from the happy experience.

She first met Mr Burney at the age of 12 when he taught her to play the saxophone at school. They have been a couple for around 10 years.

"At the wedding we had Brazilian Wedding Song, which was really romantic. We also had Slow by Rumer, which was my song to him," said the new Mrs Burney.

"If you listen to the lyrics, you will be able to understand how I feel about him.

"Over the years we've drifted apart, but love has always brought us back together.

"I'm so very happy. I only wish I could have married him sooner. I want us to spend our last days together – every minute, every second. I know he gets worried about the cancer, but I just keep trying to reassure him. I make him say something positive every day." The wedding was followed by a reception at the Wheatsheaf in Birmingham Road, where musicians gathered for a jam session and celebrated the event.

Among them were Wizzard band members Bob Brady, who played the keyboard for the band, and Nick Pentelow, who played the saxophone with Mr Burney – both of whom travelled from London for the wedding.

Meanwhile, 62-year-old Nick Pentelow, says Mr Burney was an inspiration to him during the Wizzard days, as Mr Pentelow was just 21 years old when he met him. "I always loved traditional jazz, blues and rock 'n' roll, but when I met Mike he had so much knowledge of all the modern jazz music that he completely opened my eyes to it," he said.

Bob Brady, 66, has known Mr Burney for a total of 40 years.

"It's really been incredible to work with Mike," he said.

"He's great fun to work with in the studio and he's been fantastic at all the gigs we did. He's just such an incredible musician and we all love him dearly.

"I would like to wish him and Sue a long, long and happy life together because I love them both truly."

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News