We are sad to announce that organist Jeff Barker died suddenly in his apartment on New Year’s Eve, 2013. A native of Manchester, England, Jeff began piano lessons at age 5. He later attended the Manchester School of Music, majoring in piano. While still in his teens, his interest shifted to the Theatre Pipe Organ, and he joined the Theatre Organ Club and the Cinema Organ Society. He soon found himself playing “Organ Interludes” at such places as the “Odeon” in Sale, the “Carleton” in Salford, and the prestigious “Odeon” (formerly the “Paramount”) in Manchester City Center.
In the mid 1960’s Jeff came to the U.S. to play a summer season on the 3/14 Wurlitzer organ that was then installed at the Surf City Hotel on the Jersey shore. He decided to stay in America, and subsequently became a U.S. citizen.
Over the course of his career, he has played most of the important instruments in the U.S, and England, and has been a featured organist at three ATOS conventions. He recently played for the newly formed Theatre Organ Society International at the Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Virginia.
Jeff has served as house organist at theatres operated by Nelson Page in the New York Metropolitan Area for over 16 years. Many appreciative movie audiences have heard him play the 3/12 Kimball and the 2/6 Möller Lobby Organ at the now closed Galaxy Theatre that was located in a high rise building in Guttenberg, N.J., and the 2/11 Wurlitzer at the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern, N.Y. He also plays before the Big Screen Classics Movies shown at the Lafayette.
Since 1990 Jeff has played the Robert-Morton Theatre Pipe organ at the Palace Theatre in Lake Placid, N.Y. for the Adirondack Film Society. He is also the Crew Chief for the restoration of the Palace’s organ, and formerly worked on the restoration of the 3/12 Robert-Morton at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, North Bergen, N.J.
He recently lead the crew which reinstalled the 3/12 Kimball from the Galaxy Theatre, Guttenberg, in the school auditorium/gymnasium of Our Lady of Consolation RC Church, Wayne, N.J.
An additional little known talent is Jeff’s artistic ability with a paint brush. It was he who restored much of the decorative paint and gilding when Nelson Page took over operation of the Lafayette Theatre.
Our sincere condolences go out to his family.
We are pleased to announce that organ music at the Lafayette Theatre will continue, utilizing a rotating staff of local organists.