George Gaynor


William Robinson Clarke

‘Trumpeter who passed his talents on’

1924 - 2012

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The father of rock star Mel Gaynor, George Gaynor enlisted into the RAF in Jamaica during the Second World War and was part of the contingent of volunteers who arrived in Britain in the summer of 1944. After being demobbed to Jamaica after the war, he returned to England on the Empire Windrush aged 24.

Born George Washington Bancroft Gaynor on May 21, 1924, in May Pen, Clarendon, his parents were Gilbert and Florence, née Ricketts. His maternal grandfather was called Francis Henry Drake after Elizabethan privateer Sir Francis Drake, from whom that side of the family said they were descended.

Gilbert, a furniture dealer when George left Jamaica, died on the island in 1978. Florence moved to the USA in 2001 and lived to be 106. In October 1949, just over a year after arriving at Tilbury, George married 24-year-old Robina Wilson at the St Pancras Register Office in London. They would go on to have two sons.

When he and Robina married, George was an engineer’s turner living at 35 Camden Road, north London. After tying the knot, George moved in with his new wife at her address at 64 Shepherd’s Hill, a few miles away in Highgate.

Robina was of Afro-Brazilian heritage and her father, Leonard, worked as a travelling textiles salesman. When she was 14, in September 1939, she was living alone at the Public Assistance Institution in Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire. Public Assistance Institutions were also sometimes known as workhouses although they also provided medical treatment.

The couple were both musically talented – George was a trumpeter and Robina a singer and both performed professionally. Their first son, Gordon, born in 1952, became a successful guitarist, while Mel, born in 1960, went on to become the drummer in the famous Scottish rock band Simple Minds and is a songwriter and record producer.

In the mid-‘60s, George and Robina moved to 42 Boyd Road in Mitcham, Surrey. George died in London on February 17, 1978, aged 53, and Robina in Prescot, Merseyside, in July 2012.

George Gaynor – Courtesy of George Gaynor’s family

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