FORMER Warrington bandleader Eric Pep - who helped start the careers of local singers Edna Savage and Barbara Law - has died, aged 84.
Eric - real name Pepperell - was known locally for years as "Mr Music" and was a talented pianist and piano-accordionist who could have gone far in the music industry.
But he preferred to stay in Warrington, for many years running his own band, Eric Pep and his Music.
He played for years at the US Air Force base at Burtonwood, where his jazz-tinged music was a big hit with American servicemen.
But he also played at all the main venues in town, including the Parr Hall.
Promoter Dave Warwick, of David Anthony Promotions, said: "Eric was a highly respected musician and helped a lot of people early in their careers. But he was Warrington through and through. He did not want to leave the town.
"He was more interested in music than money."
Guitarist Ron Picard, who ran the Five Knights dance band in the Sixties, said: "My band and Eric's were often booked for the same event and I knew him very well.
"He was a brilliant musician and composer - in fact he composed quite a few tunes for my band which we recorded.  He will be sadly missed.
"A few years ago he was still running a big band which played at some of the clubs around Warrington."
Eric lived most of his life in Bewsey, but latterly moved to Grappenhall.
Best known of his protégés were Edna Savage - who made a number of records, one of which got to nine in the UK singles chart - and Barbara Law, who broadcast on radio and television as well as making many records.
When the dance band era came to an end, Eric Pep played solo piano at many venues, including the Lord Daresbury Hotel.
He also started a business making videos of weddings, writing his own background music and producing copyright free music for amateur movie makers. He was a long-time member of Warrington Cine and Video Society.
Colin Daniels, chief executive of Warrington Chamber of Commerce, said: "Eric was a great character and a highly respected musician."
Picture ( courtesy of www.warringtonsixtiesmusic.co.uk ) shows Eric Pep and his band.