Blackpool glam rock singer and songwriter and founding member of the Glitter Band John Rossall dies after cancer battle, age 77

Blackpool glam rocker and founder of the Glitter Band John Rossall - who released a single dedicated to his hometown Blackpool Rocks last year- has died, aged 77.

By Nicola Jaques
Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 7:41 am
John started out as a trombone player in brass bands in Blackpool growing up
John started out as a trombone player in brass bands in Blackpool growing up

The life-long Blackpool FC fan, who had recorded his first-solo album ‘Last Glam In Town’ at 75 and had been looking to tour with his music post-lockdown was diagnosed with lung and bowel cancer in April.

His partner of 27 years Julia Keen said he 'had been very bravely fighting' the disease the last few months and their final time together had 'served to remind us what a true gentleman John was.'

He died at home in Manchester on October 2.

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    Julia said: "He was an entertainer through and through but most importantly he was so proud of being from Blackpool, he loved it so much and especially his Seasiders - some of our fondest memories are of the games we came to see.

    "I've had so many messages and people reach out who had worked alongside him as a musician. Even in this last year he was still making music."

    John had never given up on his Fylde coast roots, regularly visiting to watch his much-loved Seasiders at Bloomfield Road and spending time in his caravan in the resort.

    From a young age, he had pursued his talent for entertaining as a member of the Empress Ballroom Orchestra and many years later joining the Tower Circus Band.

    Blackpool rocker John Rossall

    Playing trumpet, because as a youngster his arms were too short for trombone, John would play in brass bands.

    By the time he was 14, John knew he would be pursuing his love for music into a career. It was to run in the family with his late sister Sheila also a singer in the 70s with the New Pickettywitch band.

    John started out as a trombone-player, later doubling up on sax, playing in Irish showbands after his dad helped him answer an advert. It was on the road across the country he first came to the attentions of producer Mike Leander and eventually took up a job in the Mike Leander Show Band.

    He would be best remembered as a founding member of the Glitter Band, whose run of hits dwarfed their disgraced former singer Paul Gadd after he had gone solo.

    John speaking about his joy of releasing his own music later in his career had previously told The Gazette, : “Music never leaves you.”

    Making the album was also his chance to reflect and reminisce of his younger years growing up.

    The Last Glam in Town was two and a half years in the making and hit by pandemic-related delays before being released late last year.

    He said at the time: “That’s essentially what Blackpool Rocks is all about. My childhood. Blackpool in the summer, that whole atmosphere and trying to capture it in three minutes of song.

    “It was one of the hardest songs to write actually and quite emotional, as I was playing with ideas and soaking up the nostalgia of it.

    “My dad was my mentor, the one who introduced me to all that music, Eddie Fisher, George Formby. Great memories.”

    John had hoped to kick off a run of tour dates with a gig at the Waterloo Music Venue.

    A funeral service - invitation only - will take place at St Kentigerns Church, in Newton Drive Blackpool on October 23. The funeral party will proceed for a further service at Carleton Crematorium.

    John is survived by Julia, his children and grandchildren.