Dick Pepper

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Dick Leaver Pepper (24 June 1889 – 15 October 1962) was a musician, actor, and writer for the BBC.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.


Born in Putney, Pepper was the son of Will C. Pepper, founder of a long-running concert party called the White Coons, and the older brother of Harry S. Pepper. [1] His middle name of Leaver came from his mother, whose name was Annie Leaver before her marriage. [2]

Putney district in south-west London, England

Putney is a district in south-west London, England in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is centred 6.1 miles (9.8 km) south-west of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.

Harry S. Pepper

Harry Stephen Pepper was a British pianist, songwriter, composer, actor, and BBC producer, whose career stretched from Edwardian era seaside entertainments to BBC television in the 1950s.

Brought up by his father as an entertainer, Pepper picked up the banjo from those around him in the White Coons, and he also trained as a cinematograph operator. In the 1930s, he formed the "Kentucky Banjo Team" with Joe Morley and Tarrant Bailey, for a BBC Home Service radio programme called The Kentucky Minstrels. [1] [3] In April 1934, he contributed an article to Radio Times on "Minstrels and Banjo-playing". [4] He went on to become a writer for the BBC. [5]

Banjo musical instrument

The banjo is a four-, five-, or six-stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity as a resonator, called the head, which is typically circular. The membrane is typically made of plastic, although animal skin is still occasionally used. Early forms of the instrument were fashioned by Africans in the United States, adapted from African instruments of similar design. The banjo is frequently associated with folk, Irish traditional, and country music. Banjo can also be used in some Rock Songs. Countless Rock bands, such as The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and The Allman Brothers, have used the five-string banjo in some of their songs. Historically, the banjo occupied a central place in African-American traditional music and the folk culture of rural whites before entering the mainstream via the minstrel shows of the 19th century. The banjo, along with the fiddle, is a mainstay of American old-time music. It is also very frequently used in traditional ("trad") jazz.

Joe Morley was a British classic banjoist who achieved great fame and renown in his homeland and abroad. During his lifetime, he composed hundreds of banjo solos.

BBC Home Service

The BBC Home Service was a British national radio station that broadcast from 1939 until 1967, when it became the current BBC Radio 4.

In 1925, Pepper married Eva C. Fazan. He died at Ashford Hospital, Stanwell, on 15 October 1962, aged 73, [6] leaving an estate worth £9,212. At the time of his death he was living at Little Prouton, 93 Chertsey Lane, Staines, Middlesex. [7] His widow was still living there when she died in 1968. [8]

Stanwell village in United Kingdom

Stanwell is an urban and suburban village in the Surrey borough of Spelthorne, 16 miles (26 km) WSW of Charing Cross and centred 12 mile (800 m) from the southern boundary of London Heathrow Airport, adjoining its cargo depot. It is the northernmost settlement in Surrey.

Staines-upon-Thames town on the River Thames in the borough of Spelthorne in Surrey, England

Staines-upon-Thames is a town on the River Thames in Surrey, England. Historically part of Middlesex, it was known to the Romans as Pontes or Ad Pontes, then as Stanes and subsequently Staines.


  1. 1 2 "Dick Leaver Pepper", in Uli Heier, Rainer E. Lotz, The Banjo on Record: A Bio-discography, p. 346
  2. Register of Marriages for Fulham registration district, Jan-March 1886, vol. 1a, p. 399: PEPPER, William C and LEAVER, Annie
  3. Chris Sands, Tarrant Bailey Jr. Banjo Solos (2011), p. 13: "The Kentucky Banjo Team: Tarrant Bailey Jnr, Joe Morley and Dick Pepper."
  4. Radio Times , Issue 550 dated 13 April 1934, p. 93
  5. Andy Foster, Steve Furst, Radio comedy, 1938-68: a guide to 30 years of wonderful wireless (Virgin, 1996), pp. 10, 57, 61
  6. Register of Deaths for Middlesex South, volume 5f, October–December 1962, p. 46: "PEPPER, Dick L, 73"
  7. "Pepper, Dick Leaver otherwise Dick Lever" in Probate Index for 1962 at probatesearch.service.gov.uk, accessed 28 July 2016
  8. The London Gazette dated 7 January 1969, p. 278

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