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Singer Gene Pitney (right) presenting Club of the year award to Derek Smith at the Frontier Club Batley.'Dated May 7, 1985

Singer Gene Pitney (right) presenting Club of the year award to Derek Smith at the Frontier Club Batley.'Dated 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.

During his time at Batley Variety Club, Mr Smith brought some of the biggest names in the world of showbusiness to the town and his list of bookings would make a who’s who of the entertainment business over four decades.

Names hitting the bill included Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner, Roy Orbison, Cliff Richard, Neil Sedaka, The Everly Brothers, Johnny Mathis, The Bee Gees, and, of course, Tommy Cooper and Ken Dodd.

He was so ambitious that he aimed for the very top and even went to Nashville to try and attract Elvis Presley.

He also kept his sights high when he tried to attract Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and while unsuccessful, his other ideas came to fruition and an international world name billed outside the club became a familiar sight.

Tina Turner at Batley Variety Club early 70's

Tina Turner at Batley Variety Club early 70's

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.

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.

Frontier. Bradford Road in Batley. (D531F404)

Frontier. Bradford Road in Batley. (D531F404)

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