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14 June 2017, 14:34
Phil Kelsall has been playing the iconic Wurlitzer Organ of Blackpool Tower Ballroom for exactly 40 years and this Sunday he’s celebrating with an anniversary concert.
Phil has held the position of resident organist at the tower since 1977 and performs in the ballroom throughout the summer.
This Sunday he’s celebrating 40 years in the role with a celebratory concert in the Ballroom of the Tower.
Here he is in action
Phil learned to play the piano at school before moving on to playing the church organ.
In 1977 the owner of the ballroom introduced a “non-stop music” policy – something which remains in place to this day.
Speaking to the Blackpool Gazette, Phil said: “People are aware of the Ballroom because of the show Strictly Come Dancing and the dancing sessions are often completely sold out these days.”
Phil plays music in a selection of dance styles, but within those styles he's not afraid to introduce a few surprises, as he told the paper:
“There's a real mix of music, people love dancing to the American smooth, Fred-and-Ginger-type songs – I do the YMCA as a tango.”
He told the Gazette that no organ compares to the Ballroom Wurlitzer: “There are some nice ones around. But the combination of the Wurlitzer and the acoustics of the room make a big difference. And then there is the atmosphere of the room too.
It has been a wonderful career.”
Phil has recorded over 40 albums and one of his recordings – of light music – stayed in the chart for a huge 12 consecutive weeks.
He was awarded an MBE in 2010 and starred in many short films about the organ.