Blackpool musician who lent The Beatles’ Ringo Starr his drumset dies from cancer at 77

Alma Tolley with her husband Tony at a Blackpool Civic Trust dinner in 2013
Alma Tolley with her husband Tony at a Blackpool Civic Trust dinner in 2013
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Tributes have been paid to the ‘fourth Bachelor’ Tony Tolley following his death at the age of 77.

The former professional drummer, who also took to the stage with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Cilla Black, died following a lengthy battle against cancer.

His widow, 70-year-old Alma, of Airdale Avenue, Blackpool, yesterday remembered him as an ‘easy going’ father and grandfather who loved his music.

A funeral service will be held at Carleton Crematorium from 1.15pm next Tuesday, April 24, where his cortege will be led from the gates in traditional New Orleans style by The Jazz Knights, the band Mr Tolley helped to found.

He was also a founder member of the Bill Barrow Quartet in 1980, and had residencies across the resort, including at the Norbreck Castle, Imperial Hotel, and the Hilton.

He remained with both bands until ill health forced him to step down in recent years.

After being diagnosed with bladder cancer shortly after his 70th birthday, the West Midlands-born musician underwent a triple heart bypass two years ago. He died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Wednesday, April 4.

Mrs Tolley said her husband led an ‘unbelievable’ life, playing with some of the biggest stars, including at Liverpool’s Cavern Club.

She said: “They were playing one night and Ringo Starr used his drums because he couldn’t be bothered setting his own up.”

He played with The Bachelors – who had a UK number one hit with Diane in 1964 – in the early 60s, she added.