Dick Powell

Dick Powell – Violinist and Bassist


Rare image of Dick (Sweet) Powell, Violinist with Joseph Reinhardt and Diz Disley

Both Guitars are Amplified. Circa 1960 when Joseph was in the UK – Nin Nin’s cable route on his Gypsy ‘Homer’ guitar – looks a bit of an incumbency. – Is that Guinness Joseph’s drinking – Can anyone name those pick-ups.

Joseph‘s ‘plywood’ Macca is featured in the well known sequence with Grappelli et al playing Minor Swing in 1955  so whether the Powell photo is earlier than ’61 – maybe. – Mike

I would guess the photo is earlier than 1960. Dick played in the London Hotclub. There was a recording around, circa 1958, in which Dick guested on 2/3 or so tracks on an  LP with Ike Isaacs and Ken Sykora, and he did appear on BBC’s Guitar Club with Ken. There used to exist a YouTube clip of the London Hotclub with Nevil Skrimshire. Dick and Diz. I’m not sure if he ever went seriously ‘pro’. I seem to recall he had a ‘business’ relationship with Sandy Brown who I believe assisted in the acoustic design of Lansdowne Studios (1956) , Nottinghill Gate – now sadly gone!  Diz seriously pissed off Denis Preston (Lansdowne’s founder) I don’t know the details but it would have affected Dick’s and Diz’s relationship. – Alex B

Denis Preston died in 1979. His Obituary described him as “probably the most important figure to emerge from the British jazz business.


Drawings by Diz Disley
Diz Disley, supplementing his day job (as are other members of his group) playing Django’s music. Diz and his band of semi-pros played every Thursday at London’s Club Django in Haringay. In his band were Neville Skrimshire and Denny Purrsord on guitars, Dick Powell on violin and Timmy Mahn on bass. Another point of interest is that a pre 16 year-old Diz learnt his Django licks from violinist Norrie Greenwood where at weekends they would go out to Norrie’s caravan in the country and play for hours into the night.

Swing Violinist and Double Bass PlayerDick Powell,  who was responsible for the fine violin work that’s on the first few Rod Stewart albums (Every Picture Tells a Story, Gasoline Alley, Never a Dull Moment, & Smiler) with Jazz Bassist Spike Heatley.  Dick also played with Diz Disley. It is sad he died relatively young (in his 50‘s) and he was also working as Richard Powell ARIBA an Architect in his day job sopecialising in Model Making for that professional avenue.

And You Wear It Well – Video – Dick Powell on Violin
Tomorrow is a Long Time
(Find a) Reason to Believe
Farewell – from Smiler
You Make Me Feal Like a Natural Man – Smiler

Dick Powell – Apparently Rod heard him playing in a Pizza Express (Dean Street Soho?) and invited him to the Gasoline Alley sessions in 1970. You can see Dick by the right-hand goalpost in the gatefold of Rod’s 1972 album Never A Dull Moment and outside the pub with a pint in his hand in the gatefold sleeve of Rod’s 1974 album Smiler. I only know Dick’s work with Rod and my favourites are his playing on Cut Across Shorty, Lady Day ( from Gasoline Alley ) and Tomorrow is a Long Time ( from Every Picture )   Great article! Best regards, Stephen G

Cut Across Shorty
Lady Day

Diz Disley – Dinette

Composer: Django Reinhardt Performers: Diz Disley Quintet: Diz Disley (g) Nevil Skrimshire (g) Denny Purssord (g) Dick Powell (v) Jim Bray (b) Recorded: 14 March 1957 (3:30)

The Best of British Jazz from the BBC Jazz Club Vol.9, 2002 CD Upbeat Jazz URCD 183,  Track 14

Disley’s all-string quintet (with violinist Dick Powell) is then showcased on 4 songs, Diz and his band of semi-pros played every Thursday at Bert Niblett’s London’s Club Django. In his band were Nevil Skrimshire and Denny Purssord on guitars, Dick Powell on violin and Timmy Mahn on bass

Dick Powell used to come over to our house when I was small to play with my Dad, and he occasionally went to his Club Django in Haringey. Diz would also be there sometimes at the same time. Its casting my mind back a long way, but when I saw this picture I immediately thought of Dick. Although my dad kept in contact with Dick until his death, I hadn’t seen him since I was about 12. This is the first time I have seen a picture of him on the internet. Pam

Apart from playing on record with Diz Disley, there is little reference to Powell anywhere except one British jazz page which referred to him as Dick “Sweet” Powell.

Dick Powell died relatively young at the age of 49.  He used to live in London but they bought Windrush Farm in Ducklington on the River Windrush ) which he converted the barn into a home (beautifully according to my Dad) and he moved there with his family, I suppose in the late 70s.  I think they had 2 children?  – Pam.

Annie – Dicks surviving daughter still retains his Violin

Hi my name is John and I am a guitarist now in my 50s. I was thinking of my old English school mates, one of which was Stephen Powell, the son of Dick Powell.  During the recording of ‘Maggie May & Reason To Believe‘ with Rod Stewart in 1971 he lived with his family in Ducklington, Oxfordshire, near Witney where I lived until moving to Australia in 1972.  To my knowledge Dick died  of a Cerebral Haemorrhage not long after the recording sessions with Rod Stewart.  I remember Stephen telling me Dick only got 10 pounds for the violin on Reason to Believe which I remember because I thought muso’s where meant to be rolling in money, and I thought he deserved better.  Stephen  was a really kind kid, we were only 13 at the time. and he had one sister who I never met.  I have a vivid memory of a ride on Stephen’s BSA Bantam 125, my first, which eventually led me to getting into motorbikes here in Australia. I lost contact with Stephen in 1972 and have never seen or talked to him since, he used to lend me his tape recorder as  I was already very much into music. Stephen was very generous and although I never met his dad imagine he got his good nature from him.  The house, as I remember was an old stone building that had been converted, and was fairly large.  I came from a pretty poor family and I thought it so cool that Stephen had his own field to ride in and several motor-bikes. Anyway I thought I’d drop you a line as I stumbled across your site whilst looking at muso’s I’ve played with.  It’s like a family tree but with muso’s.  I’ve also been looking at band’s associated with manager’s including Don Arden.  So many of their lives ended in poverty & early death.  The Small Faces were badly ripped off, especially Steve Marriott who was of course replaced by Rod Stewart, hence my finding this site while researching the musician’s who played with him, including Dick Powell. Regards John C.

The River Windrush runs through Ducklington almost unnoticed, with the large village pond nestling picturesquely between the Church and the Bell Inn. Beyond the obvious popularity of the immaculately kept village centre amongst the dozens-strong population of ducks, Ducklington is noted for being one of the best places to see the rare native lily, the snakeshead fritillary in April.

I knew one of Dick’s daughters, Gillian. We went to school together, Henry Box, in Witney   He had 2 other daughters. Jenny, who sadly died in the early 70s and Annie, the youngest,  I remember going to their lovely house in Ducklington. They had a fire engine in one of the barns, I think it was one of Dick‘s projects to restore it!  On one glorious occasion, I actually saw Rod Stewart sitting at the kitchen table, tucking into a bowl of cornflakes. I was only about 12 at the time, but it’s stuck in my memory. – Regards. Helen E

A ghost hunt expedition by the site editor for Dick Powell revealed no direct traces of him in the 2 Church burial grounds and a trip along the Windrush  Path did not reveal any signs. Things happen with Planning Authorities and Old Properties, yet no memories lingered of him at the more popular of the 2 pubs in the village. Annie the youngest family member said it was Windrush Farm and that he converted the farm buildings.  Dick could have been active as a muso in the Oxford, Standlake, and Abingdon Areas and also as an Architect – Richard Powell Associates.  40 years can be a long time in either field.

At the White Bear  – Session

Player(s): Diz Disley (solo guitar & vocal), Dick Powell (violin), Nevil Skrimshire & Denny Purssord (rhythm guitars), Toni Goffe (bass on 15, 16, 20)
Tracks: 1. Hot Lips 2. Burnadette’s Blues 3. Viper’s Dream 4. Three Little Words 5. Sweet Georgia Brown 6. Angry 7. Nuages 8. Belleville 9. I Saw Stars 10. Sweet Sue 11. Sister Kate 12. Shine 13. Avalon 14. Minor Swing 15. You’re Driving Me Crazy 16. Honeysuckle Rose 17. I Found a New Baby 18. H.C.Q. Strut 19. Swing 39 20. Sheik of Araby

Diz Disley (gtr, voc)
Nevil Skrimshire (gtr)
Denny Purssord (gtr)
Johnny van Derrick (violin)
Jim Bray (bs)

Diz Disley, Solo Guitar Vocals – At the White Bear
Dick Powell, Violin
NevilSkrimshire, Denny Purssord, Rhythm Guitars
Johnny Johnson, Tim Mahn Or Toni Goffe, Bass.

Anyone out there who can flesh Dick Powell’s careers any further?