Debbie Dickinson 17 May 1957 – 1 March 2019

Debbie Dickinson

17th May 1957 – 1st March 2019

It is with overwhelming sadness that I received the news that Debbie had passed away.

Photo Credit: Lorraine Jordan

Photo Credit: Lorraine Jordan

Debbie was an incredibly talented educator, International live sound engineer, music event manager, tour manager, music producer and creative collaborator. Debbie was an Associate Professor at City, University of London and committed to developing, devising and delivering new academic initiatives in the teaching of creative practice and Creative Industries in Higher Education as well as contributing to initiatives for validating professional practice in cultural and creative contexts.

Debbie managed the Guest Stars in the 1980s and Ruthie Smith recounts Debbie’s work as their first manager:

The Guest Stars with Debbie far right

The Guest Stars with Debbie far right

With amazing management by Debbie Dickinson, we also managed to do a tour of American Jazz clubs by doing an accapella audition to Richard Branson in his garden. This resulted in him kindly offering us free  flights on Virgin, in exchange for ‘singing for our supper’ on the plane.This tour included the famous Blue Note club in New York, where we were following such amazing acts as Art Blakey and McCoy Tyner, and Seventh Avenue South, which is now closed, plus many other gigs including various women-only gigs in the south. We were also lucky to have other tours in Europe, Greece, Turkey and Germany, where we recorded our album Live in Berlin at the Quasimodo club.  The ‘Eastern European tour’ was a less joyful affair, where, following Chernobyl, we were so frightened that food would be polluted that we took all our own food and cooked for ourselves throughout the tour, sprouting beans so we were sure to have some fresh vitamins (Source: https://womensliberationmusicarchive.co.uk/g/)

Alison Rayner and Deirdre Cartwright – both original Guest Stars – have kept the flag flying with their recording and promoting via their organisation Blow the Fuse

Debbie Dickinson

Debbie Dickinson

From 1993 – 2003 Debbie was festival director and producer of the Annual Women Take Centre stage festival promoting original music by women musicians. During the 90s, she worked with Serious to develop the vision and programme for the London Jazz Festival, including a pivotal role co-ordinating the Festival’s London wide education and community activity. Debbie co-founded Hazellville Music in 2008 to manage and develop the career of her partner, singer and song writer, Lorraine Jordan.

Debbie was also involved in a number of charities in a voluntary capacity such as WOMA (world of music and arts assists) Organiser of fundraising events for the RAW in WAR charity’s annual Anna Politkovskaya Award ceremony to support women human rights defenders working in countries in war and conflict. A member of Jazz Services Touring Panel from 1990 to 2014 and she was instrumental in devising and developing the National Touring Support Scheme and which from 1992 t0 2011 toured 787 bands playing 6,751 gigs generating band fees of £2,846,373 (Source:http://www.chrishodgkins.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Touring_Stats_2011_12_FINAL.pdf)

The music world has some people who have a broken moral compass and think that ethics is a county to the east of London. Debbie was none of these, she always behaved with impeccable integrity, fearlessly honest, loyal and a tireless champion of jazz and women in jazz and music in particular.

Debbie was a cathedral among churches.

A moving tribute to Debbie Dickinson by John Cumming of Serious can be read at London Jazz News: http://www.londonjazznews.com/2019/03/tribute-debbie-dickinson-by-john-cumming.html

Chris Hodgkins

24th March 2019