Remembering John Leslie - 1935-2015

John Leslie, accordionist, teacher, composer, administrator, adjudicator, and proprietor of Accordions of London, passed away peacefully on September 27th after a long illness. On September 22nd John had married Jilly, his long-time companion.

John Leslie, born in Wales on September 1st 1935, studied the accordion with Eddie Harris in London until the age of 18, and became a full time professional accordionist at the age of 20, recording and broadcasting for the BBC and many record companies. John first performed on TV when he was 12 years old, appearing in the ‘Picture Page’ program, and with Peter Brough on ‘Educating Archie’.

As well as his accordion business interests with Accordions of London, John Leslie was a very accomplished player, heard on several radio and TV advertisements.  For 14 years John was the accordionist/arranger with Jules Rubin and the Latinairs, and made many recordings with them.

John Leslie was a most accomplished teacher with many pupils winning accordion championship titles including a noteable 2nd place by Edward Hession at the 1981 Coupe Mondiale in Kansas City.

John was also the father of eight children, some of whom have become excellent accordionists and represented the UK. 

He has composed music, including pieces for the Guildhall accordion examinations, and has conducted many workshops and master classes at festivals such as Caister and at St Audries Bay, where he was always willing to share his considerable knowledge of music and the accordion.

Internationally, John Leslie regularly represented the UK, adjudicating at the CIA Coupe Mondiale international competitions, his first time being in Vichy, France, in 1973, and subsequently in many countries throughout the world. John Leslie was also a long serving member of the CIA Music Committee until 2006.

In 1983/84 he was Chairman of the National Accordion Organisation of the UK.

John Leslie’s contribution to the accordion, both in the UK and internationally was very considerable and of great length.

Remembering Frederick Parnell - 1933-2013

It is with great sadness that we must report the very sad passing of Frederick Parnell on Thursday 7th February.

Fred, who was born 8th March 1933, started music at a young age, taking BCA Examinations and competing at the NAO Accordion Day Festivals. In 1950 he was awarded LBCA Diploma by Examiners Conway Graves and George Harris. In the same year, at the Central Hall, London, he was the 2nd recipient of the NAO Challenge Cup (A trophy still currently competed for at the UK Championships) as the NAO Senior Solo Champion. He went on to represent GB at the CIA Coupe Mondiale.

Since then in his own words “he has had a wonderful life in Music thanks to the accordion”. As well as his many years teaching, examining, adjudicating and composing, together with his wife Mavis and two musical sons he ran a very succesful family band for many years.

Fred was a dedicated musician and has served the NAO for many years, still being a current elected member of the NAO Music Committee. In 2006, Fred was the NAO Merit Award recipient for his outstanding contribution to the Accordion in the UK!

A very familiar face still at the UK Championships, he was a gentleman who will be very very sadly missed. On behalf of the Executive Committee and Members, we offer our sincere condolences to Mavis and her family at this very sad time.

Raymond Bodell - NAO Chairperson

Remembering Ron Beecham - 1936-2006

It with great saddness that we announce to members the passsing away of Ronald Beecham (1936 to 20 June 2006) former NAO Chairperson, General Secretary and Deputy President.

Born in Birmingham on July 13th 1936, Ron Beecham taught accordion there for many years before his marriage to Elaine. They continued with teaching both in Birmingham and establishing the renowned Accordion School in Colchester where he and Elaine settled and raised their 2 sons Craig and Lloyd and one daughter Tara.

In 1972 Ron was elected Chairman of the National Accordion Organisation of the UK – an office he served for the following three years before becoming General Secretary from 1975-1983. He was elected an NAO Deputy President in 1985. Ron attended the CIA Coupe Mondiale as an adjudicator in 1979 when the event was held in Cannes, France, and later hosted the CIA Winter Congress in Colchester.

Together with Elaine he has travelled throughout the world with the highly accomplished and multiple prize winning Colchester Accordion Orchestra.

Ron Beecham passed away, after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer of the bladder and liver, in hospital with his family at his bedside on the 20th June 2006.

Ron will be sadly missed by his wife Elaine, his three children Craig, Lloyd and Tara, son-in-law Darren, grand daughter Darcy, and all that knew him. A truly memorable and devoted man.

On behalf of the Executive Committee and Members, we offer our sincere condolences to Elaine and her family at this very sad time.