A tribute to an East Boldon band leader and historian with a passion for the North East

An East Boldon man who loved music, led a dance band and had a passion for nostalgia, has died at the age of 73.

Thursday, 6th August 2020, 4:45 pm
Geoff Phillips loved music, led a dance band and had a passion for nostalgia, has died at the age of 73.
Geoff Phillips loved music, led a dance band and had a passion for nostalgia, has died at the age of 73.

Geoff Phillips will be fondly remembered for his dedicated work in promoting the history of the region through books.

He wrote eight of them on Tyneside’s history and will be known to many as the author of When We Were Kids and The History of Tyne Tees Television.

He co-presented a local history programme on BBC Radio Newcastle.

Geoff with Christine in 1976.

But he was just as well known for his 20 years as a band leader on the North East music scene.

Today, his daughter Christine paid tribute to her dad who lived in South Tyneside and said: “I used to love to listen to my dad play music and he would often sing me to sleep to the song “Que Sera Sera” of Doris Day fame and I now sing it to my daughter Emma. Quite a fitting song to become a family tradition.”

She added: "My granddad inspired my dad’s love of local history and music. When he was young they would play together in local bands and his dad would play the Hawaiian guitar.”

Geoff played in leading bands such as Jerome and the Originells and performed to audiences all over the region.

Geoff Phillips, a man of music and nostalgia.

"His best friend Bill of 60 years told me that he went to one of my dad’s gigs and afterwards someone asked my dad what instrument he played and, such was his versatility that he replied, ‘whatever the others aren’t playing’.”

Christine added: “He attained a Degree in Electrical Engineering at Newcastle Polytechnic. While he was doing his degree, he was also training as an engineer with Parsons and won their Apprentice of the Year award. After graduating, Geoff went to work for Reyrolle Parsons Automation (RPA) as an electronics design engineer.

“He met my mum, Noreen, when he has in the band and they got married in 1971. They moved to Durham where I was born in 1976. He ran his own band “The Geoff Phillips Band” that played regularly at the Swallow Hotel, Newcastle and then at the Eden Arms Hotel Rushyford, County Durham.

“In his spare time he also had a company called GP Electronics and would repair amplifiers among other things and my mum used to do the accounts for him."

The Originells which Geoff was a band member of.

Later, he worked as a project manager at Thorn Lighting.

One of his great loves was nostalgia and Christine added: “My dad inherited my grandfather’s collection of old photos of Newcastle and he went to take the same photos in the 1990s which he made into several published books.”

Geoff’s second marriage was in 1993 to June.

Christine said: “That made June’s sons - Ian and David – Geoff’s stepsons. We were all teenagers at the time but as we grew up we had children of our own and so Geoff has one granddaughter, my daughter Emma and two step grandsons Kyle and Adam who are also grown up now.”

Jerome on stage.

Geoff turned his part time business repairing amplifiers GP Electronics into a full time concern and Christine said: “I have been running the company for him for the last 13 years.

"My dad also was a member of a local history group and because of his old photos of Newcastle and books that he’d written, he was often asked to give local talks. He also appeared on the TV and in the newspaper on numerous occasions and was interviewed by Mike Neville.”

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The Geoff Phillips band performing in 1981.