Tributes paid to David Lowe - the longest-serving manager of the Ipswich Regent theatre
PUBLISHED: 10:04 21 September 2015 | UPDATED: 10:04 21 September 2015
He was the man who told The Beatles: “If you want to be famous have you photo taken with me,” - Ipswich’s very own Mr Entertainment, David Lowe, has died at the age of 91.
Tributes were paid last night to Mr Lowe, who was the longest-serving manager of the Ipswich Regent theatre.
The showman, who was synonymous with entertainment in Ipswich and instrumental in placing the theatre at the heart of the community in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, passed away peacefully at Ipswich Hospital on Friday night.
The war veteran lived a life like no other, with his family saying the “local celebrity” would greet audiences in his best evening dress and play host to the great pop acts of the day, including The Beatles twice, The Rolling Stones and country stars Don Williams and Tammy Wynette.
Daughter Jane Warden said: “Everybody remembers him. He was well-loved around the town.
“He used his personality to build rapport because none of these (famous) people really wanted to come to Ipswich. It was not a big enough venue.
“But he would say I’ve got to take so-and-so from the station because they need a taxi. He would just get to know people
“And because my dad employed so many people over 30 years, a lot of people come up and say ‘I used to work with your dad’. Everyone says he was authoritarian and strict, but they liked him.”
His final bow at the Regent came in May. He watched a performance of Sunset Boulevard by the Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society, which featured his daughter Jane.
Mr Lowe was born on September 16, 1924. He was a trainee projectionist at Finsbury Park Astoria in London aged 17, before serving in the Second World War. He was a surviving member of the tough 2nd Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, which helped save India from invasion.
Son Chris Lowe said: “He was always in control. Always in charge. He was always a military man.
“But when we would all go out in the car to see relatives, we would all be singing. Oliver Twist and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. We knew them all.”
He arrived at the Ipswich Regent (the Gaumont) in 1958 after leaving the Colchester Hippodrome. He retired in 1990.
Son Michael Lowe said: “He was always still managing the Regent in his mind. He would always talk for hours about the Regent. He never forgot any of that.”
His family recalled with humour and warmth countless anecdotes of their father. He would dress up as Al Jolson or Robin Hood and ride a horse through the streets of Ipswich to promote a show.
He was a stadium announcer at Portman Road and was close friends with Sir Bobby Robson. He would be invited to barbecues held by the former Ipswich Town and England manager.
Singer Roy Orbison was another confidant.
“He was an eternal optimist,” said son Jonny Lowe. “His glass was not only half full, but it was always full.
“He went to the dressing room of The Beatles once and said ‘boys, how would you like to be famous?’ John Lennon said ‘I don’t know, how do we do that?’ He said, ‘have your picture taken with me’.”
Mr Lowe married Barbara Alden in 1949. He leaves behind nine children, 32 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
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