A WELL-known Bewdley musician who began the town's most successful skiffle band has died at his home in Lakes Road after a 15 month-long illness.

Tony Goodwin fronted the Severn Valley Skiffle Kings, who gained second place at the Grand £2,000 World Skiffle Group Contest in the Mecca Ballroom, Birmingham, in 1957.

He progressed to rock 'n' roll and played alongside such greats as the Pretty Things and Roger Jackson, keyboard player with the Tornadoes.

The legendary skiffle maestro Lonnie Donegan sent Mr Goodwin a congratulatory tape in praise of his musical talents, which was played at his 60th birthday bash in Bewdley's St George's Hall.

Mr Goodwin, who was 77, is survived by his second wife Sue, children Anthony, Louise and Elizabeth and 10 grandchildren.

He first lived in Dowles Road before a move by his parents to Glenhurst, a Georgian house near the town's bridge, which became the centre for the family's building business. He joined the firm after a brief spell in the RAF and worked in it until his retirement.

Mr Goodwin was born in 1934 and got bitten by the jazz bug while at school. He became adept on guitar and banjo and was quickly in demand at pub gigs with the Skiffle Kings, landing a regular slot at Bewdley's Thurston Hotel in Severside South.

When he got his first amplifier to pump up the volume, such was the size of the curious crowd who turned up at his home to view it that his mother refused to let them in, so the amp was wheeled into the yard for its first public airing.

With his second band, the Bogeymen, he played at the Silver Blades in Birmingham, one hot night taking off his shirt on stage. It was absent-mindedly left draped over a drum kit, only for the curtains to open on star turn the Fortunes - and the still-steaming garment.

Mr Goodwin became famous locally for his impersonation of one of his heroes, the great Al Jolson, first seen when he took to the stage with blackened face and white gloves as a Wribbenhall Scout at parents' evenings.

He progressed to assistant Rover leader in 1955 and went on to join the Service Crew and Scout Fellowship, helping to organise district events for scouts and guides.

He was an accomplished actor, contributing to Bewdley shows Pot Luck and Stagestruck and was a member of acting group Bewdley Players, who took old-time music hall to remote village locations.

He also gave talks about his Bewdley boyhood at the Bewdley Festival and was still playing guitar and singing in pubs - often with his son - well into his sixties.

Peter Johnson, of High Street, Bewdley, said: "A Bewdley character is an over-used phrase but with Tony it was the real deal. Everyone knew him and he knew everybody. He once said he had worked on every roof in the town centre.

"His dedication to Scouting was legendary and he kept up his interest in the organisation until his final days. Tony was a really great friend. Along with many people, I will treasure his memory but miss him terribly."

Mr Goodwin's funeral will be at St Anne's Church, Bewdley, on Wednesday, October 19, at 12.30pm.