Ray's Jazz Founder Ray Smith Dies Aged 76

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Ray Smith, fourth from right.

Ray Smith, founder of Ray’s Jazz in London, died of cancer on 17 April aged 76. The funeral will be held at the Golders Green Crematorium on 27 April at 12pm, followed by a gathering at the Spice Of Life, on Moor Street, Soho.

Smith started out working for Collet's bookshop at 21, where he occupied the basement selling jazz records and playing drums, sometimes hosting impromptu performances. He has a cameo appearance dancing the Twist in Ken Russell's 1962 documentary Pop Goes The Easel, and played cricket in a team comprised of faces from the London jazz scene at the time, including Wally Fawkes, Mick Mulligan, and Frank Parr.

Smith started the Shaftesbury Avenue iteration of Ray's Jazz in 1975. He eventually caved to increasing rents and sold up in 2002, after which he retired to watch test cricket. Ray's Jazz is now a part of the Foyles flagship store on Charing Cross Road.

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