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Byron Shire
March 9, 2021

Vale Davey Rankin

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The north coast has lost a remarkable musician with the passing of ‘Dirty Davey’ Rankin. Davey (as he constantly reminded his name was) was a totally free spirit. He was in person what one could call a ‘Jazz Dadaist’.

Dave’s statements hit hard against those who suffered status anxiety. There was always a statement accompanied by the outpouring of his remarkable talent.

I first saw him 30 years ago at a jazz convention in Sydney. His trombone playing was wild and exciting. Of course his t-shirt was equally ‘something’. He had gone to the trouble of burning a huge hole in it and written underneath ‘Who F…’! His singing telegrams bedded deeply in my memory. His Gorilla Developer who arrived at the No Club Med demonstration, his Dirty Old Perv… this one he enlisted my help… he got his times incorrect… the party of spinsters were entertained by his character in a black trenchcoat, Vaseline lips, thick glasses and ‘sat on’ hat – and of course the ‘flash’ of his g-string! His party for (now deceased) trumpeter Keith Sterling (Sterlo/Cosmo) was wild and generous. Music played till 3am; two bare foam mattresses were offered and as the chill of the night set in Sterlo claimed he slept under the female gorilla suit and I the male one! Well that is jazz.

Dave’s legacy is huge, as many trombonists in Sydney were taught by him. He continued playing with his oxygen bottle nearby. How I will miss that canary yellow kitchen, the rickety veranda, his favourite records and the stories of his naughtiness from (now deceased) Susan Flower who, with Chris Flower, employed him in many shows that they created on the north coast.

More than ever I will cherish the joy of Dave’s sensitivity, great talent, total freedom… and the reminder: ‘don’t take yourself too seriously – there is joy to be shared’.

Jo Faith, Newtown.

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