BHA mourns George Melly

5 July, 2007

Jazz singer, writer, and distinguished supporter of Humanism

The British Humanist Association was saddened to hear of the death of George Melly, who was President of the BHA for 1972 to 1974 and remained an active supporter until his death.

‘George was a delightful man, and generous with his time’, said Hanne Stinson, BHA chief executive, ‘and we could always count on him to support our campaigns, whether to abolish the blasphemy law, or to persuade Radio 4’s Today programme to include humanist thinkers on ‘Thought for the Day’.  We shall all miss him.’

Born in 1926, George Melly was educated at Stowe, in the navy from 1944-7, and assistant at the London Gallery before becoming a professional jazz singer, TV critic and film scriptwriter. In 1970 he was “Critic of the Year”, and in 2004 he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC’s Jazz Awards.

His books include Paris and the Surrealists (1991, with Michael Woods) and several volumes of autobiography: Owning Up (1965), Rum, Bum and Concertina (1977), Scouse Mouse (1984) and Slowing Down (2006) about his approaching 80th birthday.     In April 20, 2006 he wrote about his cancer in “Last words” in The Guardian , and in 2005 his wife Diana published her autobiography Take a Girl Like Me describing their unconventional open marriage which has lasted over 40 years.

Gerorge Melly was President of the BHA 1972-4, and was also an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Association