Peggy O'Keefe

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Peggy O'Keefe
Peggy O'Keefe at the Showbiz Ball 1994.jpg
Background information
Birth name Margaret Patricia O'Keefe
Born (1928-04-07) 7 April 1928 (age 89)
Genres Jazz, Easy Listening
Occupation(s) Pianist, Bandleader, Television and Radio Presenter
Instruments Piano, Vocals
Years active 1949-2004
Associated acts The Peggy O'Keefe Trio, BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra, Moira Anderson, Cleo Laine, Marion Montgomery, Mark Murphy.

Peggy O'Keefe (born 7 April 1928) is a retired pianist, bandleader and television & radio presenter.

Life[edit]

Margaret Patricia O'Keefe was born on a farm in Wangoom, near the city of Warrnambool, three hours from Melbourne, Australia. After a good education, both musical and academic, at a convent boarding school, she attended the Melbourne University Music Conservatorium, where she studied violin, piano, singing and harp. Whilst there she was a classmate of Douglas Gamley, who also travelled to Britain and found great fame as a pianist, orchestra leader and arranger, most notably arranging the bulk of Dame Joan Sutherland's lighter repertoire.

Career[edit]

Before departing Melbourne in 1960, Peggy O'Keefe had already built up a solid reputation as a pianist, appearing on radio broadcasts and working as accompanist to artistes in nightclub cabaret.

After her arrival in London, she picked up where she had left off in Australia. She had not been in London long before she was playing in jazz trios and quartets in establishments such as The Stork Rooms, Satire Rooms and The Riverside Club. It was during this spell that she played for - and rubbed shoulders with - artistes like Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, Dame Cleo Laine, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, and renewed an old and rather special friendship with legendary bass player, Ray Brown.

In 1962 she signed a contract with the Reo Stakis hotel empire and travelled to Glasgow to commence her residency for six months in the Chevalier Casino. That six months eventually became six years, and during this time she presented many series of live music programmes from the casino with guests from the aforementioned list of stars and others, such as Dick Haymes and Mark Murphy.

At this time, Peggy had also been discovered by the BBC and Scottish Television and she went on to present a long list of music programmes both on television and radio right through until the 1980s. She was probably one of the busiest pianists used by the BBC and STV, since - as well as her own programmes - she was acting as a staff pianist, taking responsibility for accompanying auditions, recitals, singers and musicians on entertainment programmes as well as playing piano within most of the BBC's ensembles - from jazz trios, through chamber groups and big bands to the BBC Radio Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. It was often said that you could hardly put on a BBC programme which included musicians and not see Peggy O'Keefe among them.

In the later years of her career - after the demise of live musicians and music departments in broadcasting, Peggy kept working in theatre, recital and concert as an accompanist to artistes like Moira Anderson and Kenneth McKellar, as well as keeping her jazz trio going and being involved playing piano and celeste for light music and film music programmes by larger orchestras, such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Gordon Cree Concert Orchestra.

Personal life[edit]

Peggy married briefly in Australia, but on the breakdown of the marriage in 1960, she travelled to London, as has remained a British citizen ever since.

In 1971 she met and married a second husband - a Swedish businessman with whom she had two sons. The marriage ended in 1979.

She is the mother of techno DJ, Lars Sandberg, better known to techno audiences as Funk d'Void.

Former stepmother (via her second marriage) of international jazz pianist and Acid Jazz recording artist, Ulf Sandberg.

Retirement and Later Years[edit]

Peggy O'Keefe continued to work leading her trio for corporate functions, as a fixture at Sunday lunch in Gleneagles Hotel and as accompanist to Scottish entertainers (most notably Peter Morrison, Anne Lorne Gillies and Gordon Cree.) Following an unsuccessful knee operation in 2004, during which she contracted a superbug and internal infection in the joint, she was not mobile enough to be able to continue to work.

She lives in Glasgow's West End.

External links[edit]