Singer Dame Cleo Laine has paid tribute to her late husband, jazz legend Sir John Dankworth, as a plaque was placed at his Highams Park childhood home.

The acclaimed scat singer, famous for her vocal range, visited the house in Hollywood Way where Sir John grew up in the 1930s as Waltham Forest Council and the National Jazz Archive unveiled the commemorative blue plaque on Friday.

The saxophonist grew up in a family of musicians, his mother a choir mistress and his sister a music teacher, and Dame Cleo hailed the influence they had on the icon.

The singer, whose daughter Jacqui is a jazz musician, while son Alec is a bassist, said: “We never said our children had to be musicians but they couldn’t escape it, it was all around them.

“It was the same with John. With the influence of his mother on the musical part of his life he grew up with it. His sister carried it on and it got to the point where being musical was almost the norm. He’d be thrilled to bits the plaque’s going up.”

The plaque replaces one installed a few years ago, which alluded to Sir John’s disliked nickname ‘Johnny’ and which called him a “saxophinist”.

Dame Cleo added: “It was badly spelt and he was very on the ball about spelling. He’d be very happy it’s now correct.”

Sir John was taught at Sir George Monoux Grammar School in Walthamstow, as it was known then, and learned violin, piano and the clarinet.

It was in the 1950s when his musical career took off though, forming The Dankworth Seven before composing scores for TV series The Avengers and Tomorrow’s World.

He passed away in February 2010.

Archive founder and jazz figure Digby Fairweather said the plaque was recognition of the late saxophonist’s abiding influence on the genre.

He pointed to the Wavendon Allmusic Plan, Sir John’s charity which continues to support the disadvantaged with music workshops and educational projects today.

He added: “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s been a great day and we miss him terribly. He was an extremely welcoming and kind man as well as one of the greatest jazz musicians in the world.”

Granddaughter Emily Dankworth is continuing the jazz family dynasty, singing and studying at the Guild Hall School of Music, and said: “It’s great to know where my grandfather grew up. It’s a very special day.”

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