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Ted Callister

Ted Callister, who died on March 22, aged 74, was a musician who played for many recording stars including Alma Cogan, Al Read and Morecambe and Wise. He also worked under the name Eddie Kaye.

He was born in Liverpool on April 23, 1931 of Manx parents. His father was a professional musician and singer who played classical guitar and his mother was a professional ballroom dancer. During the depression in the thirties his parents used to busk on the streets in order to survive.

He joined the RAF when he was 17 and was trained as a wireless operator. One of the highlights during his service was to be posted to Wilmslow in Cheshire, which, as the time, was the camp for the Women’s Royal Air Force. Callister was in great demand at camp concerts but was eventually posted abroad to Number Four Flying Training School in what was then Southern Rhodesia. This was followed by a tour in Malaya, Korea and Japan serving with distinction attached to the United Nations.

When Callister was demobbed he went to live in London. In his spare time he played piano in pubs and clubs but his first choice was the guitar. He was advised by Denny Wright, a friend of his, to study music professionally if he wanted to succeed and he suggested he go to the Central School of Dance Music. He was taught by Ivor Mairants, sometimes by Jack Llewellan or Roy Plummer. It took him another 15 years of study at university in Bristol and Liverpool in between his professional work before he was satisfied with himself. He became a Master of Music and later gained a PhD.

His first audition as a doctor was for the City Varieties at Leeds before going to Morecambe for a summer season working for Eddie Morrell.

He toured all over the country with a trio and played the Floral Hall Scarborough, the Empire Circuit, Alhambra Circuit, Pigalle Restaurant and many more, working with various artists.

During this time he had learned to tap dance and do the general work required in production numbers. In 1965 he decided to work as a semi-professional as he was offered a job as a senior technician for Granada, which meant travelling all over the south of England.

Callister still continued with his music until he collapsed while playing the organ. He was diagnosed as having a rare incurable cardiac disease. This finished his career with Granada and he deteriorated to such an extent he became wheelchair bound.

He was retrained in the field of watch and clock making and became a craft member of the British Horological Institute. He then started his own business but further surgery affected his eyes and he had to give it up. Undaunted, he opened a recording studio. He was made a Freeman of the City of London in 1987.

Callister is survived by his wife Pat, whom he married in 1969 and daughter, Wendy, who works on the cruise ships with her own production company Mirage.

Keith Skues

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