Friends and Relations
Picture of Ken Outram.

Ken Outram was born on the 21st June 1927 in Darnall, Sheffield. He was blind in one eye and had little sight in the other. At the age of 5, he started at the Royal Blind School in Sheffield as a boarder and was there until the age of 16. He studied music under the distinguished organist, Mr Arthur Littlewood, and he received a thorough classical education in music on both pipe organ and piano which served him in good stead for his later musical career.

On the 30th January 1939, when he had lost the sight of his other eye, his mother took him to the City Hall in Sheffield, to see the well-known evangelist and faith healer, the Rev. Edward Jeffreys. For a time Ken regained his sight and this made the front page in the local paper. The Rev. Jeffreys wanted to see him again after a short while but being at boarding school it was awkward and he didn't go back and eventually his sight went completely. This was Ken's first encounter with the City Hall and little did he know then what a huge part it would play in his life.

Ken would have liked to have gone to the Royal College of Music when he was 16 but being wartime, many of the professors were away fighting and there was a long wait, so instead he trained to become a shorthand typist and telephonist and worked for a Sheffield firm until 1954 when he decided to make music his sole profession.

He played piano and organ at many venues in Sheffield before playing at the Old Hall Hotel in Hope, Derbyshire, where he stayed for 15 years from 1957 to 1972. By this time Ken was married and had a family and they moved from Sheffield to live in Castleton, Derbyshire. During this period he heard that they were looking for an organist to play for lunchime dancing at the City Hall in Sheffield. Ken was chosen from 30 applicants. He started at the City Hall on the 27th November 1967 and remained there until May 2004. His popularity and cheerful persona won the hearts of many thousands and he soon became known as Sheffield's 'Mr. Music'.

As well as playing at the City Hall, Ken also travelled the country doing the 'concert circuit' playing both Theatre and Pipe Organ and electronic organ for Organ Societies. He also played the famous Blackpool Tower Wurlitzer Organ and it was a great thrill for him because he had known Reg Dixon as a friend and had been given the honour of looking after Reg when he appeared in the Ballroom at the City Hall. Reg Dixon was also a Sheffielder.

It was Ken's dream to form a Dance Band but he was told by the then Manager at the City Hall that he couldn't do it. What a thing to say to Ken Outram!! With a 'little help' from yours truly, he had his dream and the Ken Outram Dance Band played at the City Hall in Sheffield for a few years until the discos took over. They were very happy days for Ken, working with other musicians, he so enjoyed the comradeship and companionship he had with 'the lads'.

For a time Ken taught piano and organ as he felt he wanted to pass on his knowledge of music to others. This was a challenge because Ken had learnt his music via braille, which is very different to the notation that sighted people learn by, but he mastered it as he did so many things. The challenges he faced over the years were a revelation to his family and friends, always facing them with a smile and coming out on the winning side.

Ken played at many venues including the local Marriott Hotel where he met some very interesting people including Jools Holland who complimented him on his piano playing - praise indeed! He played in pubs, clubs, nightclubs, etc. but his first love was always the City Hall playing for lunchtime dancing and with his Band on Saturday nights. The City Hall management paid him a wonderful compliment by honouring him with a Plaque in the Ballroom in recognition of his dedication to the venue for so many years and for giving so much pleasure and happiness to the thousand of dancers who 'tripped the light fantastic' to his fabulous organ playing. They not only had the Plaque done in print but also in braille so that Ken could read it himself - a very thoughtful gesture.

As stated, Ken was a family man - he had five children, eleven grandchildren and also great-grandchildren.

To sum up the talents of Ken Outram would take many sheets of paper, for he was a truly remarkable man, always smiling and cheerful and had a philosophy on life which would be a lesson to many sighted people.

Definitely one of nature's gentlemen and very sadly missed by all.

 

Added by: Pat Clifton on 30th August 2010.

 

 

Comments


 

Victoria Johnson writes [16th March 2011]:

my grandad a lovely man always in my thoughts

 


 


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additional images

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Picture of Ken Outram.
Picture of Ken Outram.
Picture of Ken Outram.
 

Charity Information

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

We want a society in which blind and partially-sighted people enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else