Death of well known musical director
FORMER Gaiety Theatre musical director Alex Cairns has died at the age of 80, just three months after his wife Doris.
But Rev James Sloan told mourners in Catrine Parish Church that the popular couple enjoyed incredibly rich and varied lives.
And there was an uplifting moment when Alex’s coffin was taken out of the church to the sounds of a lively country tune by Willie Nelson!
For he was open to all musical ideas — even in illness and old age — and fell in love with a country swing number called ‘Cut Me Loose, And Let Me Swing’.
Highlights of Alex’s career in music included working on legendary Cunard liners, the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth.
He also toured Canada with other home-grown entertainers in ‘A Breath of Scotland’ show, and did summer seasons in Jersey and the Isle of Wight.
Closer to home, Alex was musical director for summer shows at the Gaiety and Butlin’s, as well as the Kelvin Hall Circus.
The circus was a hardy annual on Christmas TV, and Alex did a range of other television work for STV and the BBC, as well as radio work.
He was a gifted musician from childhood, but economic hardships of the 1930s meant he couldn’t take the coveted place he gained at the Athenaeum in Glasgow.
Instead, he went to work at 14 in the Catrine Bleachworks — his wages vital to support his widowed mother and family.
But young Alex was enlisted by local dance bands — as well as the Catrine detachment of the Home Guard!
He often joked about his experiences, portraying himself a naive youngster in the mould of Private Pike.
Alex soon had a band of his own, and Doris encouraged him to become a full-time professional musician, after they married in 1952.
The couple also had a number of business ventures together: the pier ballroom at Shanklin, Isle of Wight; the canteen at Ballochmyle Hospital; and a seafront fairground at Girvan.
He was resident organist at Girvan’s Beach Pavilion when it was busy venue in the 1970s.
Children Charmaine and Lorenz were then at school, and got a scare when dad was manhandled by a giant wrestler — not realising it was part of the act!
Alex also encouraged Doris when she embarked on a successful career as clairvoyant ‘Madame Astra’.
And the couple found yet another niche in their 70s when they signed up as TV and film extras.
Alex is survived by four grandchildren, as well as son Lorenz and daughter Charmaine.