I am going to embark on a series of posts on Hugh Wade, his later career and some of his friends and acquaintances of the time. That I am able to do so is entirely dependent on family material that William Wade has allowed me access to. I am deeply in his debt.

There is a double-edge to looking at this period of his life. While Hugh achieved great success, he wrote three substantial hits, he had little time to live. He died in June 1949 after a long battle with throat cancer. The letters, and there are many, written to him during his illness have a particular poignancy about them.

The range of people who considered themselves friends is remarkable, the consistent note of affection is not. Hugh was very well regarded, as good company, as a composer and as an accomplished pianist (who “could make the piano talk”, as one well-wisher put it).

Hugh at the piano, Xmas 47?

I had always suspected that there was more to Hugh than the “pianist in a night-club” that D.J.Taylor rather loftily dismisses.Because of a general lack of interest in British popular music pre-Rock and Roll, it has not been easy to dig out enough information to refute the dominant image of Hugh Wade as a marginal, albeit exotic, figure. The picture is by no means complete but I am now, I hope, able to afford him some sort of belated justice.

So, expect a fair few scribblings about this final chapter in Hugh Wade’s life. In doing so, in case this sounds a little too obsessional and hagiographic, I intend also to use the material to talk about some other neglected figures and some forgotten or under-explored areas of English life (from Northern Pantomimes to 1940s London Clubs).

In the meantime, can anyone identify the man and woman with Hugh in this photograph (probably from 1947)?

The pipe-and-moustache chap could pass for the archetypal late 40s clubman and the rather striking woman has a familiar look to her. The setting with the, then very fashionable, Vat 69 at the table is very evocative of the time. As to the place – again, any suggestions are welcomed.

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