Family's tribute as chart-topper dies at age of 75

Kidderminster Shuttle: 'In our hearts': Roger LaVern has died, aged 75. 'In our hearts': Roger LaVern has died, aged 75.

A KIDDERMINSTER musician who reached the top of the US music charts before The Beatles has died.

Roger LaVern, born Roger Jackson, played keyboard for The Tornados in the 1962 instrumental hit Telstar.

He died last Saturday aged 75 after a two-year battle with prostate cancer.

His wife Maria Jackson said: “We, his wife, his children Sebastian and Trinia and his extended family give thanks to the Lord for his life and will always love him and miss him.

“He will always carry on living in our hearts and in our minds. He was a lovely, kind, caring person.”

Last year marked 50 years since Telstar, written by music producer Joe Meek, topped the US and British charts.

Telstar was a communications satellite launched into orbit on July 10, 1962 and the track was written to appeal to the public’s fascination with space travel.

Mr LaVern spoke to The Shuttle in September last year to mark the anniversary. He said: “Quite frankly, I thought it sounded like Mickey Mouse music. But when the fame started, I got to like it. It went to number one all over the world.”

Mr LaVern grew up in Kidderminster and had a life of privilege until his father shot and killed an actress in 1948.

His father, George Jackson, owned a chocolate factory in Birmingham and dabbled in showbusiness at Birmingham Hippodrome, where he met many stars of the day.

By the age of nine, Mr LaVern had eaten dinner with Hollywood legends Laurel and Hardy and comedy actor and singer George Formby had stayed at his house.

He left Kidderminster to attend a boarding school in London, which he hated. He claimed his father’s crime ruined his childhood.

After a time in the Elite Household Cavalry Regiment and at William Hill Carpets in Kidderminster, Mr LaVern moved to London in 1961 to seek fame and fortune.

He met Joe Meek in May 1962 and enjoyed success in The Tornados but left due to not being paid for his work. He later moved to Mexico and starred in films and television.

Despite battling his own health problems including two bouts of cancer, Mr LaVern raised thousands of pounds for charity and was given a lifetime achievement award by the Star Foundation for 46 years of fund-raising.

He told The Shuttle last year: “I’ve been a good boy and a bad boy.

“I pride myself on never having taken a drug. I had girls, scotch and cognac instead.”

Leave your tributes to Mr LaVern in the comments below.

Comments (5)

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8:03am Thu 20 Jun 13

jon cooper says...

Very sad news ...

I remember watching an interview with Roger Lavern and the Tornados drummer, Clem Cattini around 12 months ago; and I was struck what an incredibly humble gentleman Mr Lavern actually was. His work on 'Telstar' alone has only made Roger Lavern's contribution to British music immortal.

My sincere sympathies to his family and many friends at this very sad time.
Very sad news ... I remember watching an interview with Roger Lavern and the Tornados drummer, Clem Cattini around 12 months ago; and I was struck what an incredibly humble gentleman Mr Lavern actually was. His work on 'Telstar' alone has only made Roger Lavern's contribution to British music immortal. My sincere sympathies to his family and many friends at this very sad time. jon cooper
  • Score: 0

9:33am Thu 20 Jun 13

tornadotom says...

I knew Roger very well.A True Human who helped me enormously.We Talked often on the Phone.Very Sad I will Miss him.My sympathies go to Maria and His Family at this difficult time.He leaves a great legacy of Music ...and His Personality and Love of other People will be also missed.If you want further information on Roger His Music and Life please visit my website www.the-tornados.com
I knew Roger very well.A True Human who helped me enormously.We Talked often on the Phone.Very Sad I will Miss him.My sympathies go to Maria and His Family at this difficult time.He leaves a great legacy of Music ...and His Personality and Love of other People will be also missed.If you want further information on Roger His Music and Life please visit my website www.the-tornados.com tornadotom
  • Score: 0

1:25pm Thu 20 Jun 13

ephgraveuk says...

I met Roger on one occaision when he made the record "Theme for a fallen idol" with Jet Harris, my wife and her sister who were well known session singers did the backing track, it can still be heard on youtube, He was real gentleman and great musician and will be greatly missed....R.I.P..Rog
er,
I met Roger on one occaision when he made the record "Theme for a fallen idol" with Jet Harris, my wife and her sister who were well known session singers did the backing track, it can still be heard on youtube, He was real gentleman and great musician and will be greatly missed....R.I.P..Rog er, ephgraveuk
  • Score: 0

5:04pm Thu 20 Jun 13

AUB TIMMS says...

I met Roger 3 times and what humorous stories he told. Roger was so optimistic and determined. My main impression of Roger is that he was a real gentleman. A very kind man too.
I met Roger 3 times and what humorous stories he told. Roger was so optimistic and determined. My main impression of Roger is that he was a real gentleman. A very kind man too. AUB TIMMS
  • Score: 0

1:32pm Fri 21 Jun 13

Butch Bowen says...

I met Roger one Saturday afternoon in 1959, he was a Jehovah Witness preaching the gospel to a wide audience after he finished i spoke to him if he would be interested in joining my band the 'Zodiacs' he was very apprehensive saying that he would not be able to play in pubs because of his faith,but in the end with a lot of persuasion he accepted, our first gig was the catholic church on birchen coppice' on a thursday evening with an audience of about 30, so after that we arrived to go back to our normal clubs, parish halls, and of coarse local pubs,Roger soon adapted? A few years back he wrote to the shuttle asking for a reunion to meet all his friends from the sixties, i feel so sad now that i was unable to meet him at that time. The last time we met was to say goodbye where he was off to London the rest is history. "God bless my old friend"
I met Roger one Saturday afternoon in 1959, he was a Jehovah Witness preaching the gospel to a wide audience after he finished i spoke to him if he would be interested in joining my band the 'Zodiacs' he was very apprehensive saying that he would not be able to play in pubs because of his faith,but in the end with a lot of persuasion he accepted, our first gig was the catholic church on birchen coppice' on a thursday evening with an audience of about 30, so after that we arrived to go back to our normal clubs, parish halls, and of coarse local pubs,Roger soon adapted? A few years back he wrote to the shuttle asking for a reunion to meet all his friends from the sixties, i feel so sad now that i was unable to meet him at that time. The last time we met was to say goodbye where he was off to London the rest is history. "God bless my old friend" Butch Bowen
  • Score: 1

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