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'He never lost his smile' – Tributes pour in for legendary Bilston musician

Tributes have poured in for a much-loved musician who taught Cillian Murphy how to speak with a Midlands accent.

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Danny Robinson, who was known as Danny Cannon as frontman for The Ramrods, has died aged 80. The band once headlined the Royal Albert Hall.

The musician died after a short illness.

As well as playing a small part in the first series of Peaky Blinders, Danny was also used by the series producers for his advice about local history. In an interview just before the launch of the series in 2013, he told how he taught Cillian Murphy how to speak with a correct Midland accent.

It has been revealed that he died after bravely battling lung cancer, and it comes just a few months after he celebrated his 80th birthday, in January.

Danny and his band members Ken Hooper, Alan Lacey, Len Beddow and Pete Walton, formed the Ramrods after becoming super fans of Buddy Holly while at school together.

They were all pupils of Etheridge SM School in Bilston, and each decided which instrument they wanted to play before splashing money on their chosen instruments.

When the band first joined up, Danny is said to have instantly wanted to be the lead singer, and to prove it bought his first microphone in 1959.

Family friend Ian Beddow, 53, son of the band’s lead guitarist, said the successful musician always had a joke up his sleeve and never lost his smile.

He said: “Danny was the joker, I never saw him miserable and he always had jokes loaded up before he went on stage, he never missed a beat and had the most impeccable memory.

“He could remember things that nobody else could, dates, times, people, places, everything.

“My best memory is that he always had a smile on his face.”

Danny and his band had humble beginnings in the local Bilston music scene, playing small events and birthday parties.

But soon their skills grew, and just a few years after starting they were winning local music competitions including the Big Beat on Snow Hill.

Real success came when they were offered a short spot at Bilston Town Hall, which at the time played “Swing music and never had any Rock and Roll".

The town hall gave them a chance to play during the break, but their performances became so popular they were given their own weekly slot.

Ian, said: “The legend goes that if they were on stage at 7.30pm, and you were not in the queue by 6pm, you would not be getting in.

“They went on the bill at the Royal Albert Hall because TocH - a charity set up after the war for ex servicemen who they raised money for - was part of an event playing there.

"The Ramrods topped the bill and the venue was full.

"They went off to Germany and had a few months in Düsseldorf, playing eight hours a night, seven days a week - just like the Beatles.”

The band came together again in the 1980s when they played a selection of gigs - joined by Ian who became a pianist in the band.

He said: "When I played with them the audience would always come up to me and tell me how they watched the band in the decades ago.

"Being part of the Ramrods with Danny and my dad gave me memories that will stay with me forever."

Danny's son, Paul, said: "He had been suffering from lung cancer for a while, it was an on-going battle which he sadly lost yesterday.

"It's a really sad loss to the family, he'll be missed by lots of friends both in and out of the music scene.

"The band was quite influential in the scene, and we're so proud of all he did."

He leaves behind his beloved wife Mary, son Paul and daughter Beverly.