Final farewell to variety club’s Derek

Singer Gene Pitney (right) presenting the Club of the Year award to Mr Smith at the Frontier Club Batley on May 7 1985.
Singer Gene Pitney (right) presenting the Club of the Year award to Mr Smith at the Frontier Club Batley on May 7 1985.
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The man who played a major role in making Batley the mecca for variety stars in the 1970s and 80s has died at the age of 77.

Former Batley Grammar School pupil Derek Smith was able to attract stars from all over the world first as booking manager for the Batley Variety Club in the 70s and later as joint owner of the same building which he revamped and re-launched as The Frontier in the 1980s.

Born in the Cross Bank area of Batley, Mr Smith initially tried making his mark in the farming and bread making industries.

But he broke into the entertainment world by becoming the highly successful concert secretary of the Birstall Liberal Club and also as a member of the group known as Sammy King and the Voltaires.

With his increasing experience of show business Derek’s hands-on approach at the Variety Club delighted owner James Corrigan who quickly appointed him bookings manager, one who was able to attract numerous top acts from all over the world.

Mr Smith left the club in 1974 to open his own highly successful club Upstairs Downstairs in Leeds but returned to Batley in 1981 to take over the old and closed Variety Club building with Wesley Patterson and once again put the town on the entertainment map with his new passion, The Frontier, which boasted a succession of disco nights featuring top bands, plus lights and laser shows.

Mr Smith extended the building to create the renowned Crystal Rooms, a venue for slightly older people, which has since been converted into one of the most successful restaurants in the area. He retired seven years ago and had spent his time playing the organ and grand piano at his home in Timothy Lane.

He leaves behind sisters Pauline and Sylvia. His funeral will be held at Dewsbury Crematorium on July 1 at 2pm.