Paul Avron Jeffreys

13th Feb 1952 - 21st Dec 1988

Paul Jeffreys at the Marquee


John Crocker remembers Cockney Rebel

I can't quite recall how we first made contact with Paul; it may have been through an ad in Melody Maker but do I remember Steve and I auditioning Paul and then getting together with Stuart Elliott to see how they worked together. We all realised straight away what a solid rhythm section they made and, if you consider that he had a fondness for Captain Beefheart, Paul was very sensitive to what we were trying to achieve and soon became a much-loved member of the band. Paul had a rare talent - he was very intuitive and I really don't ever remember him having any problem choosing what to play or how to play it for the best effect.

Paul could often seem to be a little reserved and yet he was never afraid to be outrageous when he needed to make himself heard or just perhaps just change the mood when things got too serious. One of the things I will never forget about him was his habit of wearing about four or five layers of t-shirts and thin jumpers all year round; I never did figure this out.

Although we kept in touch after we left Cockney Rebel, I regret never having the pleasure of playing with Paul outside of the band. We were very bitter about the way the Cockney Rebel split was presented to the media. The real story was never told at the time and I know Paul felt the need to simply put it behind him and get on with the rest of his life. Paul brought happiness to everyone he met and, even if he knew that time was short, I'm sure he could not have tried harder.

Bill Nelson remembers Be Bop Deluxe

Paul and Milton joined at the end of the tour when Be Bop supported Cockney Rebel. I'm guessing it would be around 1975? The line up of Be Bop after that tour was Paul on bass, Milton on keyboards, Simon Fox on drums and myself on guitar and vocals. (In fact, it was Milton who introduced me to Simon Fox as a potential drummer, they were old school chums.)

We did about 14 dates live, I think. Can't recall where they were although I know that there was a London one. I remember odd things such as Paul turning his bass guitar volume virtually off at one gig because he wasn't confident that he knew his part!

Another memory is sitting in a hotel somewhere (in the west country?) having breakfast with Paul. Whilst we ate, he told me about his passion to become a kind of tree specialist. There was a 'proper' title for this kind of work, not 'tree-surgeon' but something along those lines...'Arboreal Scientist', maybe? I was quite surprised to hear him confess that this was so important to him. I think it meant far more to him than music did.

Anyway, after persevering with our concerts I realized that there was something not 'gelling' with that particular line-up. It was purely a musical thing, I actually liked Paul and Milton a lot, there was no personal problems at all but the music wasn't quite right for me at that time.

I dissolved the band again, keeping Simon as my drummer, and then auditioned for bass and keyboard players.

After a long search, I found Charlie Tumahai for the bass role and, an album later, Andy Clark on keyboards.......

.....I was deeply shocked and saddened by Paul's death in the Lockerbie disaster. I still think of him from time to time. A terrible shame. "

Milton Reame-James remembers The Violins

I worked with Paul from my audition with Cockney Rebel in 1973 until the end. There is so much I could say and want to say, but I'm glad to keep it brief and let everyone else contribute. The first points I would make is that we were both so lucky in the people we worked with. In every line up we had great people working with us, band members and crew. This was also true of the families, I can think of no-one we worked with whose parents didn't treat us like their own sons. Paul's parents certainly always made me feel so special and whatever we did, supported us throughout the long years we worked together.

I'll pick the story up a year so after we left Be-Bop Deluxe. I'd been working in the Theatre and wanted to get back into rock music and knew I had to work with Paul. We started writing material and teamed up with my Theatre band Malcolm Ashmore on Drums and Jeff Faulkner on Bass. He moved onto Guitar and we started working as a studio project in Chalk Farm Studios Camden Town. Our Engineer /producer was Vic Keary who teamed us up with vocalist Rob Elliott. We recorded a single ( You Really Got Me ) a Ray Davies song in Summer 1977. We managed some airplay and a few gigs, but needed to change direction and teamed up with a new vocalist Raphael Doyle ( He had worked with Tom Robinson ) The new line up was called " The Violins " and rapidly built up a strong live venue following and did lots of gigs in 1978.

Sadly for us, Malcolm Ashmore decided to go to University, and we found new drummer Dave Cairns. We recorded a few tracks for a publisher and started to look for a record contract.
One day Paul came to me and said he was concerned that our style was to passe for the then Punk dominated era and wanted a rethink. He saw the Warm Jets and raved. We both went along to see them and decided on a band merger. They were losing their bass player and drummer and sadly Paul and I had to part with Raphael and Jeff. The Warm Jets story can be left to others save to say what fun it always was and we enjoyed writing together for that line up.

But better still was the joining with Paul Balance and Maciek Hrybowicz to have such a lot of writers creating together. Our final recording was "Work" a studio based dance single. Paul and I were just about to start working on a new project when the tragedy occurred. Best moments are too many to tell, I was just so privileged to have been there and to have worked with Paul so much and for us to have been such very close friends. But, the Electric Eels writing phase was incredible, all the rule books went out of the window and it was all four writers creating in the most fantastic free way. We were all lucky then.

Terry Murphy remembers The Warm Jets

I was the owner of the Bridge House music venue in Canning Town East Lonodon where Paul and The Warm Jets were regulars.

I remember talking to Paul one night at the Bridge House, after he had just finished playing on stage with the Warm Jets.

i said why don't you smile when your on stage. He replied, i am not a comedian, i don't want to be laughed at, i am serious about my music. And before i could say anything, he said, 'And there's a laugh for you'. And he actually smiled.

Jeff Ellis remembers the Sperm Wails

The Sperm Wails was originally formed out of the need to escape from London on the day of the royal wedding between Chuck and Die in 1981. A gig was hastily arranged at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff and was meant to be a one off improvised jam along the lines of Beefheart's Trout Mask period.

We had such a good time that we continued with the project for quite some time afterwards, sometimes changing the name of the band as it was difficult getting more than one gig at any venue, but always changing the line up of the band. There were usually somewhere between seven and fifteen band members in the line up with sometimes as many as three drummers on stage. But there was only ever one bass player.

Paul Ballance would turn up to a gig with a folder full of song lyrics and before each song he would either shout out some chords or hum a bit of a rhythm to Paul Jeffreys and off we would go on a journey of discovery and mayhem.

Pauls heavy driving bass was always the lynch-pin of the set up, and without him or his love of all things Beefheart it simply would not have happened. Despite the chaos, some very memorable tunes evolved, born purely from the synergy of Ballance and Jeffreys. Songs such as Zone 5, Recycle Rejects, Nuclear Wedding and my favourite, the bass heavy reggae rhythms of Pope Town.

Of all the bands that i have heard Paul play in, i think the Sperm Wails was the one where his creativity and playing skills shone through and dominated the sound from beginning to end.

Those were very happy and creative days, with absolutely no worries or concerns about industry bullshit. as The Captain himself said, Sometimes it just isn't worth looking through all the bullshit to see what the bull ate .

Jeff Ellis remembers Wattle & Daub

Wattle & Daub were probably the first ever three piece duo. This project came about after the Sperm Wails imploded, too many people were turning up to play, many of whom were total strangers. When the number of people onstage outnumber the audience 5-1 it's time to give it up.

The two Pauls and myself were guerilla recording new tracks on a little 4-track machine in Paul Ballance's flat in Forest Gate and when Paul Jeffreys got hold of an old upright double bass we knew we had to get back on the road.

With songs like 'Panthers in Black', 'Smoothville Arizona' and 'I Found Out' we played a number of small bars and caberet clubs. The only gigs i can remember was one at Terry Murphy's New Merlins Cave in Farringdon where we found it hard to entice people out of the bar and into the gig and a couple in Richard Strange's basement cabaret bar in Soho where we were once joined by John Halliday on sax. I remember that gig particularly well because we tried one number with Paul Jeffreys playing electric bass while i attempted to play his upright bass. I recall how he showed me how to pluck the strings while playing a simple rhythm, 'Don't worry, it'll be fine" he said. More painful is the memory of how it stripped the skin off my fingers to the bone.

Adrian Large remembers The One Pacific

Paul and I got together initially to do some writing and as a result, along with Milton, we produced a dance track called Work which went out as a twelve inch on a little label which was called Shigaku I think. It certainly didn’t bother the charts at all as far as I know.

We decided to put a band together, as much for mutual therapy as anything else. You probably recall that Paul was pretty disenchanted with the whole music business, and it was really our intention to do the whole thing ourselves. I had just come out of a no-hope deal with Chas Chandler, and pretty much shared Paul’s ambivalence to getting a deal. And the music we were making didn’t fall into one category. Some of the songs could be classed as jazz, some world music, some dance, some New York Talking Heads sort of stuff, others very British (think XTC), and always with Paul’s passion for Captain Beefheart as an underlying influence.

Anyway, The One Pacific was the name of the band and started out with a hefty line up of Paul on bass, myself on guitar and vocals, two backing singers, keyboards, trumpet, drums and percussion. Predictably, the size of the line-up made this unit pretty unwieldy, and after a couple of gigs (at the Half Moon in Herne Hill I think) it more or less imploded and we settled on a fine collection of Paul and myself, Pedro Ortiz on kit, Nick Miller on percussion, Rob Johnson on guitar, Chareen Parsley and Phoenix on backing vocals. Pedro wandered off at some point and was replaced by Bill Dare. Lynn Cooper joined on vocals when Phoenix went back to the States. With this line-up we did the usual gigs… Mean Fiddler, Half Moon, Swan in Putney, Zeta’s club in Putney, the Powerhouse I think etc etc.

We made a video of one of the songs and were plunged straight back into the Kafkaesque world of the music business. Initially accepted for airplay by MTV, it was then rejected because we weren't signed to a label. When we explained that we didn’t want to sign to a label and that the video was to promote the band not a record company, the conversations went round in ever decreasing circles until we gave up on that idea……….

Some line-up changes followed when Rob Johnson left to start his own band (taking Nick aka Slippery Miller with him) this was an amicable split to the point that Paul was seriously interested in managing them – The Rabbits.

We had to employ a guitarist and a keyboard player to replace Robbie, but it was evident to Paul and I that we weren’t going where we wanted and in the weeks leading up to his death we were seriously discussing the idea of starting a club night in the new year following his return from the states. We wanted to get back to where we had started, with a much more alternative approach to making music (and making a living from it). We hoped to be able to explore where we wanted to go musically and provide a platform for other artistes to do the same….

Of all the people I have met in my life, Paul was the most gentle, generous, creative, mischievous, grounded of them all, and it was extraordinary that he met his soul mate in Rachel. They were perfect for each other and I can honestly say that there is hardly a day when I don’t think of them. Their death was a devastating loss, but their lives were an immeasurable gift.

We organised the Mean Fiddler gig and we got together as many ex members of the band as we could. Some couldn’t make it and others couldn’t face it. Afterwards I felt tremendous guilt that I hadn’t asked other players to take part, but it was such an agonising thing to do that my head wasn’t really working. So, if you have the space on your site please pay tribute to people like Paul Balance, Majick, Joe, and all the others I didn’t know who should have been there. By the way, we raised over £1500 that day and the proceeds went to Greenpeace and a Trauma centre in the States which had saved the life of the boyfriend of one of Rachel’s friends.