Obituary: Jeffrey Lawton

Date published: 10 May 2018

Famous opera singer and Middletonian, Jeffrey Lawton, died on Friday 4 May, at the age of 78.

Jeffrey was born in Oldham on 11 December 1939 and began his singing performance in the chorus of Patience at age 16 in Woodhouse’s production of Patience. 

At aged 19, the director asked Jeffrey to sing the lead tenor in Patience for Long Street Gilbert & Sullivan’s Society in Middleton. At this venue, Jeffrey met his future wife, Ann. The Lawtons have lived and raised their family in Middleton for the past 59 years. 

Jeffrey’s singing career took him all over the world and he appeared on TV interviewed by Sir Michael Parkinson.

Jeffrey began his singing career at the Welsh National Opera as a contract artist. At the age of 41 Jeffrey sang regularly with the Welsh National Opera company and has sung with all the major British opera houses. He performed at Albert Hall proms, broadcasts and regular charity concerts in Middleton.

Jeffrey became more known in Middleton after taking over at 24-hours’ notice from Plácido Domingo as Othello at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden in 1990.

He sang internationally in Canada, the United States, Argentina, Israel, France, Holland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Scotland and Germany.

A former student at the Royal Manchester College of Music, Jeffrey taught and mentored young singers at the Royal Northern College of Music, an amalgamation of his former educators and the Northern School of Music.

He was also awarded a Fellowship at the College, which incidentally Plácido Domingo also received.

Jeffrey was very active in Middleton, raising money to help people by performing concerts and was also as a member of the Rotary Club of Middleton, where he was Rotary President twice.

Janice Powell, President of Middleton Rotary Club said: “Jeff will be much missed by all.

“Jeff had been a Rotarian since November 1989, so a long serving member indeed.”

Bev Yarwood, Middleton Rotary, said: “I was saddened to hear of the recent death of Jeff, a long serving, popular and much respected Rotarian.

“He made me laugh, he made me smile; always kind and interested in what I had to say.

 “A true gentleman.”

Jeffrey’s funeral will take place on Thursday 17 May 11-12 at Blackley Crematorium. Family flowers only please, donations will be welcome for Springhill Hospice.

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