Menu
The Jazz Butcher Etc Tom Hall Tributes
Tom Hall (1944 - 2003)

Tom Hall, itinerant musician, songwriter, overt sartorial provocateur, player of unlikely ancient instruments and 109% solid platinum genius, died at three o'clock this morning.


A tribute page by Neil Spencer.

A downloadable tribute by Mark Griffiths (pdf).


There will be a memorial gig for The Great Tom Hall on Saturday 6th September 2003 at the Ken Turner Pavilion, Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, Wantage Road, Northampton. Taking part will be many of the musicians who worked with Tom over the years in a revue sort of format. Pat Fish and Curtis E. Johnson will be also be appearing. Starting times and admission prices to follow.

His passing has deprived Northampton of its most unique and life-affirming character, and one of the truly great original British artists of the day. The fact that Tom was not a household name around the English-speaking world merely bears witness to what a sad, grey place that world had already become. Without him here with us now it's a whole lot worse.

You could say that Tom Hall was a part of the UK folk scene. Yes, okay, he was the part of the UK folk scene that wrote The Anglo-Saxon Gramophone, a tune so surreal in both words and music that it would have been considered a landmark of English eccentricity (God help us!) if it had emerged from the more widely publicised careers of Viv Stanshall or Kevin Ayers. He was the part of the UK folk scene that recorded - with Alan Moore, of all people - the chilling and entirely European "Madame October", possibly the most gory stamp collecting story ever told. He was the part of the UK folk scene that recorded Blues For Jimmy Rogers, a lazy Louisiana sound that left one Max Eider spluttering in disbelief at the elegance of it all.

Long before I ever moved to Northampton, Tom toured the world with a pretty well-known folk aggregation called the Ratcliffe Stout Band. His song John The Road tells the tale. I dare not even put it on. It used to make me weep even when he was still around, probably drinking at The Cricketers just around the corner from my house. I really don't know what the little fucker would do to me tonight.

But it's just no good. You all know how I feel about English folk music - down by the old muthafucking canal. To call Tom a folk artist is like calling Marcel Duchamp a dauber.

Whether he played out with his full band, the Bareback Riders, ("all other bands can FUCK OFF!" - Me watching Tom at the Blackbottom Club, Northampton 1995) or whether he did one of his extraordinary sit-down evenings with  wunderkind fiddler Guy Fletcher, Tom would always deliver a performance of utter unpredictability and, yes, danger. This is not something that I associate with English folk music. The Bareback Riders could follow him with telepathic ease in just the same electrically fluid way that the original Patti Smith Group would chase their own inspired leader. Tom would break off tunes to tell mad little stories, not because the audience expected it, but quite simply because they had just occurred to him. He could lead his band from a a straight three-chord anthem into a mad neo-Celtic dreamspace at a moment's notice. Tom was alive and real and inspiring and all over the place and too many people smiled indulgently and took him for granted and they must be dead in their stupid wee damn heads for it.

Tom recorded an album, "Watering The Spirits" in 1994 when he was already almost 50 years old. Alan Moore helped him to get it done. Featuring the exemplary musical skills and sympathetic production of the great Mark Griffiths, it is a gem of a record, certainly the finest ever to come out of Northampton. You know, I don't even know where you can get a copy. Doesn't mean you shouldn't look for it, though. Even in this 21st Century Tom and Guy were still hopping across the Atlantic to play, even getting themselves on the radio, gigging in Nashville, Tennessee and up in the hills of West Virginia.

Tom Hall also uttered the funniest single word that I have ever heard. We were in Slurps Wino Bar one night. Tom was having a drink and minding his own business. I was across the other side of the bar, trying to do the same, despite finding myself in the midst of a pack of well-oiled and increasingly vocal Australian types. Onstage was a young man, locally known as "Dead Justin", performing some ludicrous poem he had written. Justin had an accompanying slide show. I think he reckoned he had some kind of William Blake thing going on. Whatever, when the slide of the local public library went on above his head, things started to spin out badly. Locals were guffawing at the simple-minded earnestness of it all. The Australians were starting to riot and say naughty things about the royal family. As the situation slid out of control, there was some kind of technical breakdown on stage. Superb. Utter chaos. People yelling, laughing, rioting...when a voice calls out, rich, fruity and imperious.

It's Tom. and he's shouting: "SECURITY!"

Tom Hall was a complete and utter original. I went to see him sing and play every time that I could. Like every musician in Northampton I looked up to him. It wasn't only his dangerously brightly coloured clothing that intimidated me, but he showed nothing but kindness and support to me and all the other younger musicians in town who were trying to make a go of what he had already done, dusted and left behind.

I remember one Sunday morning during the making of "Illuminate" when for some odd reason I was feeling unusually down and battered. Arriving at the studio, I couldn't get in. Nobody was around and I didn't really know where to put myself. As I milled about in the alley, without a penny or a clue, Tom strolled past. "Come and have a brandy, dear boy!" He was 50 years old, I was 38. Long before that autumn sunday lunchtime I had happily drunk with Peter Buck, Mark E. Smith, Alan McGee, Country Dick Montana and Tom Waits. One day in Waterloo in 1988 the "great train robber" Buster Edwards had bought me a double brandy. Yet here in this dangerous little Northampton lowlife bar with Tom, I felt like a little kid getting a special glimpse into the grown-ups' world. With his impeccable old-world courtesy and genuine concern for a fellow musician he restored me like the special genius spirit he truly was. Yes, yes, I know what I just wrote there.

And yes, Tom liked a drink. And yes, that was probably what did for him in the long run. I think that most likely everybody reading this piece will know the score there. Tom was beautiful and damaged and deep and unrepentant. And people have been earnestly telling me that Shane MacGowan was close to death since 1984. Some of the best of us really are indestructible. The fact that Tom's body has finally given out on his elegantly ferocious appetite for life in no way means that he is - or ever will be - gone for those of us who loved him.

Ride into the Sun, dear boy.

Pat Fish 25.2.2003

Visitor Feedback
Visitors' comments for this page [Add your own]
Time passes
I only found this touching post about Tom Hall because I was just introduced to him in Alan Moore's Jerusalem. And from reading this I've learned that they worked together on something called 'Madam October' which Im excited to look more into.

Also, the author is now older than Tom Hall than he was on the day he was invited to share a brandy with him.

Well, I hope youre enjoying your time at Jolly Smokers, Tom.
Phillip Arizona 15Oct2021 12:19 AM
Tom Hall
I never had the privilege if meeting Mr Hall but he sounds great, one of the last few interesting people that are left. There's not many of those anymore, what a shame he went so young..
Danny Nichols 31Oct2019 5:10 PM
Tom Hall
Just picked up a copy of Watering The Spirits CD from Oxfam in Market Harborough. Was a fan of CRSB and looking forward to hearing this.
steve 5Aug2015 5:42 AM
Tribute.
Thanks for that. I had a copy of Dan, half dan, I pinched off me sister. Wish I till had it!
Martin, leeds 28Feb2015 7:35 AM
Tribute CD
Later this year will be releasing another cd from grass roots records this one will be a Tom Hall tribute cd called Now That's What We Call Tom Hall.

To keep upto date with the release date and the launch party please come join the facebook page for Tom: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Tom-Hall-Musican-Northampton-Legend/127924690606718

Thank you.
Leighton, Northampton 1Feb2011 12:14 PM
Ratliffe's celebrtated stout
I have the honour to be the hand behind the revival of what I can only assume, was once one of Tom's favourite tipples, namely Ratliffe's Celebrated Stout, along with its parent company Phipps NBC. Our goal for the revival of these legendary Northamptonshire beers has been to restore a dash of indigenous, historical colour to our region's pubs and bars, something Tom's music provided in abundance during his life. As a Northamptonshire patriot and folk fan I've long been an admirer of his work. Although I never met Tom in person I would like to think he would be amused and interested in our project which is a labour of love rather than a commercial venture, Cheers Alaric Neville, Phipps NBC
Alaric Neville 18Jan2010 3:36 AM
Tom's Website
I have managed to get it up and running again but I am in the process of re making it which will probably take about 1 month. Its now on
http://www.tomhall.org.uk
Will, Cambridge 4May2006 7:51 AM
Tom
Any new updates please?
Northampton 28Oct2005 7:55 AM
Tom Hall
just revisited Tom Hall,s tribute page and been touched by neil spencers eulogy.

Diane,if you get to read this,i hope all is well.

All Love to Tom's memory
Ron
xx
newcastle upon tyne 20Oct2005 11:58 AM
From Ohio
Ten years ago, Tom Hall and Guy Fletcher played on two
occasions at my high school in Barnesville, Ohio. Tom Hall's
rough, powerful voice still exists vividly in my mind; the concerts
were so great and left such an impression on me. Remembering
that voice today with particular clarity led me to this sad news of
Tom Hall's passing, now almost two years after the fact. Though
I'm grieving as type this, I'm also glad to have experienced his
music.
Newark, DE 8Sep2005 12:28 AM
Website
The website still isnt running.

I havent got the internet down here and I think mum was trying to sort it out but she doesnt know much about it and the people who are meant to be helping her out havent done anything yet.

I would do it myself but I havent got a job or the internet so I can do it at the mo.

Cheers.
Cambridge 8Jul2005 7:39 AM
TOMMY HALL
Is anybody going to sort out the tom hall website?

PLease can we have a reply to this message A.S.P.

Thank You..............
Northampton, UK 25Jun2005 10:53 AM
Tom Hall. Who Knew ?
Fuck. I have just heard Tom bloody Hall for the first time on the Rocking for Romania c.d (it was on in the Racehorse last Saturday afternoon. It starts with A House by the River. We could NOT believe this wasn't J Cash from the first few bars. Bloody amazing, as is Madame October, which could have easily been L Cohen or John Cale. And I've lived here in Northampton for five effing years, so stood a pretty decent chance of actually seeing the genius live and in the flesh before he passed on. But I didn't. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fucking Bollocks. Bloody Fucking Bollocks. I am furious. And sad. I mean, what a brilliant bloke...

Pat - keep up the sterling work, by the way - I'll see you 3rd of June and probably moan about this for some time, even though you hardly know me. I'll say it again Bollocks. And Fuck. Again. And again and again and again, until the government put his entire back catalogue out in all the primary schools as a New Key Stage One in 'Stupefyingly Brilliant and Mental Studies'.
Nick S 24May2005 5:20 AM
Tom Hall
I remember seeing the Celebrated Ratcliffe Stout Band on two occassions in the early eighties at the Arts Centre in Builth Wells, Powys, Wales.

At the second gig, unfortunately the audience was probably no more than a dozen. This did not deter or upset Tom however. After a couple of numbers he walked off the stage and simply invited us all to join him in the bar, where we all had a fantastic evening joining in as he sang and played his eclectic range music which was individual as the man himself.

I still have the two vinyl albums I bought that night. Tom signed them and drew a small caricature of him sinking a pint, plus the words "I like a nice pint". A great man and musician.

Stay forever on the Brightlit Pier.
Derek Morey, Kings Lynn Norfolk 8Mar2004 11:01 AM
A year has past.
A year past yesterday. It has gone very fast. WE ALL MISS YOU TOM.
Graham son 26Feb2004 4:31 AM
tomhall tribrute
I WAS THERE AT THE TRIBRUTE AND IT WAS GREAT O SEE DIANE AGAIN AND TURVY ALL THE REST OF MY DADS MATES . AND ALSO TO HERE THE OLD SONGS .
I HAD JUST CAME FROM DENVER ,USA THE MORNING BEFORE . so thanks for this great time .
nickwood denverusa /northampton. england 15Feb2004 9:41 PM
Hi Will
How are doing? I am seding this from colleage. Its Graham son Leighton.

I went on your website and liked it very much.
SENT FROM: 8Jan2004 5:55 AM
Tom's Web Site
I tried to knock together a bit of a website whilst I have been home.

It has got some pictures and a discography, that kind of thing.

http://www.tomhall.net/home.htm

cheers, Will Hall.
Northampton 7Jan2004 9:22 AM
Tom Hall - The Entertainer
I've just discovered while surfing the web that my old friend Tom Hall, the entertainer has 'passed on'. Ah the good times we had in the Black Lion in the mid eighties ....... what great 'joie de vivre' this man always showed.

Wherever you are headed Tom ...... ' may the road rise to meet you'.

Des Cooney
Paris, France 21Oct2003 9:43 AM
Hello friends!
Pat - thank you so much for your beautiful words. What a wonder it is for me to be miles away from my home town, and be able to offer words of fond memories to friends and family of Tom, who I knew well when I lived in Northampton.
When I heard the news that Tom had passed on, I felt suddenly homesick. I would have loved to have been part of the memorial event and I hope to hear about it some day. I am happy for Tom that his life was celebrated so well by his friends and family.
When I was about thirteen years old, Tom and his music enchanted me! My mum, Judy (Yes, THE famous Judy Lewis of 10 Primrose Hill) was wonderful enough to somehow sneak me in to the pubs to sing with Tom and all the friends that gathered around. Those were marvelous, rich evenings that made my teenage years exciting and fresh and anything but boring. When Tom played the Rep, he invited me to dance on the stage in my tap shoes! I was about twelve or thirteen then.
Thank God I grew up with talented, down to earth, beautiful, loving, eccentric characters like Tom! Yes, he was one of a kind. (And Pat, you are one of those too by the way! The last time I saw you we drove to Cambridge and talked about everything from philosophy to old bones!)
Northampton will not be the same without Tom Hall.

Fare well,

Aniko Lewis
Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin USA 29Sep2003 8:20 PM
Thanks to everyone
I would just like to thank everyone who attended the memorial event last night. It made everyone hard work worthwhile and I believe an enjoyable night was had by all. I should get a web site up soon, but going back to uni might stunt its growth somewhat.

Cheers. Will.
Will Hall 7Sep2003 1:30 PM
tom hall
my father and mother were friends of tom and di
i remember going to their home when i was young i remember going to their gigs and i remember when i saw them both again after 20 years. i asked tom if he had a copy of the rat/stout band ''that would be a collectors item now. you'd pay 250 pounds for that now!" he gave me a copy and i listened to music that is so imprinted in me that i remembered all the words and then he died and and i got out the tape and my kids had recorded rap music over all the whole side. i truely loved tom and di i believed that at their home fairies and dwarves and any manner of folk lived with them in a beautiful free existence. i send you all my love di i know that you will look after the little folk even though you have lost his beautiful soul.
much love and all sarah turvey and family
york western australia 26Aug2003 7:49 AM
tom hall
my father and mother were friends of tom and di
i remember going to their home when i was young i remember going to their gigs and i remember when i saw them both again after 20 years. i asked tom if he had a copy of the rat/stout band ''that would be a collectors item now. you'd pay 250 pounds for that now!" he gave me a copy and i listened to music that is so imprinted in me that i remembered all the words and then he died and and i got out the tape and my kids had recorded rap music over all the whole side. i truely loved tom and di i believed that at their home fairies and dwarves and any manner of folk lived with them in a beautiful free existence. i send you all my love di i know that you will look after the little folk even though you have lost his beautiful soul.
much love and all sarah turvey and family
york western australia 26Aug2003 7:44 AM
tom hall
my father and mother were friends of tom and di
i remember going to their home when i was young i remember going to their gigs and i remember when i saw them both again after 20 years. i asked tom if he had a copy of the rat/stout band ''that would be a collectors item now. you'd pay 250 pounds for that now!" he gave me a copy and i listened to music that is so imprinted in me that i remembered all the words and then he died and and i got out the tape and my kids had recorded rap music over all the whole side. i truely loved tom and di i believed that at their home fairies and dwarves and any manner of folk lived with them in a beautiful free existence. i send you all my love di i know that you will look after the little folk even though you have lost his beautiful soul.
much love and all sarah turvey and family
york western australia 26Aug2003 7:43 AM
tom hall
Dear Pat

We have never met, but i used to be pal of Tom's way
back in black lion days, when i hung round with Mark,
Mary, Allan and other wayward locals. I've written a
tribute - about 1300 words - and wonder if you would
be kind enough to post it on your site prior to the
memorial bash, which I'll be attending.

Have a nice snap of Tom as a young fellwr, too, coming
down on a sunday morning by the look of it.

let me know what you think. i appreciate the piece may
be too long

thanks for the tributes.

ns
neil spencer 19Aug2003 7:21 AM
tom hall tribute gig.
hiya to you!
i just wondered if there is any more info yet about the tribute gig to tom hall? or is it a little too early? any advance plans yet?
i would definately be interested in attending.
do you think that you could eventually put the details on your website when you know more about what's going on? that would be much appreciated.
thanks very much, kind regards from bob owens.
bob owens, birmingham, england 2Jun2003 4:36 AM
dubious blues
met Tom way back,way back way back in 65 ,black lion,thought he was related to graham bond,Tom turned me onto everything,falling around,blues and dubes . (Phippsvilles) had the privilige of putting Tom on at Royal Theatre plus chicken,
Tom kept me going when my marriage broke down
we played Dubious Blues 2nd.Old House at Home.Black Lion every thursday,APH sunday.the tree
on bass my brother on drums and tom played slide,
guest appearances by a list of local guitarists
sometimes 3!! on one gig.plus an assotment of
singers,saxophones and wild men.One Especially
fire filled night we walked offstage one by one leaving amps feeding back and your drummer wondering.."whatever happened to Eddie"..
Hey Tom,the Don Lang Special is still on the menu.
thanks Tom,I wouldn't have got this far up the
mountain without you.
northampton u.k. 19May2003 2:47 PM
tom hall
stunned lookingfoward to see him in august. then this. no more songs to sing. delve
sydney aus 30Mar2003 2:59 PM
The Inevitable & Justly Planned Memorial Gig
Message to all friends and fans(!). I have the honour of being the coordinator for this proposed event which will probably be held in September. Venue as yet to be decided, but we are trying to sort out the bandstand in Abington Park - a venue that Tom would very defintely have approved of.

If anyone would like to contribute muscically I would like to hear from them soonest. The basic idea is to have a House Band consisting of Mark, Guy and me. To this will be added various extras who will hopefully have a Tom song that they would like to feature on. Whether it's a song you want to sing or play on - let me know. Also I am constructing a database of all people who would like to be kept up to date on progress of the event. Tom - a great old friend and inspiration.
Pete Watkins 28Mar2003 10:23 AM
tom hall
I knew Tom for 40 mad years.In the mid sixties, when we were desperate to be seen as down and out "beat nicks",Tom was always immaculate in pin striped suits and razor cut hair.We watched him grow from a blossoming folk singer to the King of the Blues.A wonderful journey from the "Cafe des Artistes" to paradise.Now the stage is bare, but the legend and his music live on.
From Alan Mason and Spud (the Outlaw)
alan and liz mason 25Mar2003 12:10 PM
LONGTIME FRIEND OF TOM & DIANE
in the mid seventies . I WAS WITH MY FATHER WHO TOOK THE RATCLIFF ALBUM COVER PHOTO AND HANGING AROUND TOM AND DIANE AND TURVY , MARK .
denver colorado 18Mar2003 4:55 PM
MY TRIBUTE TO TOM HALL
My tribute to tom
The man with the heart as big as the aura that surrounded him.
I've often heard folk talk of legends,but i can say that among many,many other's,I had the great honour of knowing a real one.Never have I seen so many broken people,so much pain.
But to all the Dave's,Mark's,graham's,Alan's,Pete's,Steve's Nick's,Chris' and uncle Tom's cobblers and all,Tom meant colour and laughter,not sorrow and pain.To know him was to love him.
PAM(a mere window cleaner)
northampton,uk 14Mar2003 10:06 AM
Tribute to a legend
On february 25th northampton lost one of its greatest son's.I had the privelege of being a friend of Tom's for around 23 years.I met Tom in 1980,introduced at a party by pete connolly.Tom was lying on a bed playing guitar looking at me,saying,who's this crazy fucker.Anyway i got to know Tom quite well and he introduced me to the Black lion mob,a crazy bunch of nice guys.In the last couple of years,Tom quit drinking.I found him a really gentle soul,who was very funny without drink.Tom was in my house about 9 months ago "sharon where's my fuckin' trousers",running about like a madman,Tom was better at ozzy than ozzy himself.After the grief I want to remember Tom just as a really nice guy,manys a day he brightened the world up for a lot of us out there.Yeah,i feel as if someones cut my arm off,so lets raise or glasses or cups of tea,to the legend TOM HALL.Rest easy old friend.I'll never forget you.Graham(Belfast).
northampton,uk 14Mar2003 9:51 AM
Tom
I wnet back to Northampton for the weekend
and was sad to hear there was something
mising. Tom was great for all my family. From
sunday afternoons as a kid in the Black Lion
what a great place to frow up.

I think the town needs a statue of him big
enough for kids young and old to sit on his
knee and have their first snort of snuff.

lets get wrting to the CHRON & ECHO

greatly missed

gog davitt
gog davitt 11Mar2003 1:00 PM
Tom Hall
Dear JazzButcher

Just to say cheers for a heart-felt and moving tribute to Tom Hall. Went looking for stuff on him and yours was the first Google gave me. As a Northampton boy (sort of, born in Isleworth but moved there in 1985) I had the pleasure of meeting Tom through his life-long friend Steve, the father of two of my friends. Met him at a party as a teenager and, as well as getting me blind drunk he also introduced me to Mississipi John Hurt and said I had hair just like his used to be in the Sixties (I find this hard to believe as, this being 1990, I had crusty white-boy dreads, but what the hell). Anyway, it goes without saying that Tom will be missed by a hell of a lot of people and we should definitely have some sort of tribute and pub and statue built in his honour. He's already immortalised in one work of art at least - the first edition of Alan Moore's Big Numbers comic, set in a fictionalised Northampton. The artist, Bill Sienkiwicz was sketching characters in the Black Lion, as it was, and coincidentally drew Tom, unaware that he was a mate of Alan's. That's quite enough from me.

Cheers, Tom.
Newcastle upon Tyne 11Mar2003 9:40 AM
Tom helped me
I have spent seven years of my life in Northampton (1978-1983 and 1985-1987) and Tom besides, entertaining me, sorted me out a little.

Thank you Tom and may God look after you the same way that you looked after so many of us.

Peter Norman
8 Raglan Court
319 London Road
LEICESTER
LE2 3ND
0116 270 1107

For info when I was in N'pton I worked for Baxters (Butchers) Ltd at their Head Office on Vicoria Prom, Gloucester and then at Wootton.

I've seen a lot of animals being killed.
Leicester[at]-remove-England 8Mar2003 3:56 PM
Tom Hall
It was with great sadness that I read in yesterdays Chronicle & Echo the death of Tom Hall.I first met Tom at the Angel folk club in Bedford in 1974 and saw him at venues around the uk over the next28 years. I hope that someone will organise a memorial concert for him in Northampton.Perhaps the town council should name a street after him or better still someone name a pub after him (one that has live music obviously).A great man who will be sadly missed.
Ian Hannent
Northampton 6Mar2003 1:30 PM
Tom Hall's passing.
Hi Pat
Manyt hanks for your fitting tribute to Tom. Beautifly
done Dear Boy! Could I ask a small favour ? As I don't
have a web site would you please consider posting my
tribute on your site . I'm sure your fans and friends
would be more interested in Toms exploits than
'Shadows fans' ,which is where I also thought of putting
it . If this would be ok ,how do I go about it? I would
really appreciate it.
Regards Mark ( Griffiths )
Northampton UK 3Mar2003 11:27 AM
Tom Hall
It was my privilege to know Tom and to jam with him in my home in West Virginia, in his home in Northampton, and in a number of different pubs/bars on both sides of the Atlantic. The world is a less colorful, richly textured place and interesting place since Tom Hall no longer inhabits it. He will be sadly missed but never forgotten.
Wheeling,West Virginia, USA 2Mar2003 5:18 PM
Tom Hall
yeah i was a mate of tom in 1966, he was an absolute stand alone then, he had the whole scene weighed up, calculated and dusted, superb musician and rememberer of songs,... so long ago. I wish i had known him longer \Mick wimpress
mikewimpress[at]-remove-hotmail.com 28Feb2003 1:43 PM
I feel your pain, Butch
Sorry to hear you lost your friend Tom Hall. Maybe next time you visit LA you can play a few of his tunes for us.

Be cool,

Cheeso
Alhambra, CA USofA 25Feb2003 7:12 PM