Alan Hayman – Obituary

Bosco de Oliveria, Bill Lucas, Alan Hayman, Dawson Miller from London School of Samba - photo credit: Lito Soto

Bosco de Oliveria, Bill Lucas, Alan Hayman, Dawson Miller from London School of Samba – photo credit: Lito Soto

Obituary for Alan Hayman – London School of Samba

Key founder member of the London School of Samba, Acadêmicos de Madureira & Batucada Mandela

We regret to announce the death on 5th September of one of the key founders of the London School of Samba, Alan Hayman, who died aged 63 in hospital in Brazil from a bacterial infection after a brief illness.

Born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1949

Born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1949, he first arrived in the UK in 1977. By 1983 he was involved with both the Common Stock Theatre and the famous Grand Union Orchestra (formed 1982) led by Tony Haynes. In the GUO he was to perform with other musicians who would also become founder members of the LSS: Gerry Hunt, Germán Santana, Carlos Fuentes & Pato Fuentes.

Alan came up with the idea of starting a samba school

The idea of creating the first Samba School in the UK was originally Alan’s. As a keen musician with a love for samba, he had soon linked up with a small number of Brazilian, Chilean, Colombian and British professional musicians, from which was formed a nucleus of drummers who became the 12 founding members of the London School of Samba in January 1984. In those early days, when people first joined the LSS the membership application form asked if they had ever played Samba before. In the archive, I found Alan’s, and he said on his that he had played with one of the greatest Samba Schools in Rio, Portela, and “Samba de Roda in São Luis in Maranão”.

Meeting João Bosco de Oliveira in London

When he thought of forming a samba school in the UK, one of the first people that he approached was João Bosco de Oliveira. When l interviewed Bosco in February 2002, he told me how he had met Alan:

“It was in December 1983 when l was playing with Dave Bitelli’s band Onward Internationals in the Rockgarden in Covent Garden (now the site of the Apple computer shop) that I first met Alan Hayman, and he mentioned to me the idea of forming a School of Samba. He had been having dinner with some friends and had heard of me. He was a drummer who liked Brazilian music and was already thinking of forming a Samba School. My first reaction was “it’s crazy”, but Alan had really thought about this and said “don’t worry, l just want you to organise the music—l will sort out everything else”. However, by the time we got together and got things up and running, there was no Treasurer and l had to step in.”

Alan served as the first secretary of LSS

Despite this, Alan served as the first Administrator/Secretary of the LSS and worked hard to get the LSS up and running without funding in the first couple of years. Early member Roberto Pla told me in 2004:

“What l remember from the early days is that Bosco knew everybody and pulled a lot of people together, plus Alan Hayman did a fantastic job helping run the School.”

First-ever gig for London School of Samba

As for those first LSS gigs in Covent Garden, Alan told me in 2010:

“One person who was absolutely fundamental in our formation in 1984, was Maggie Pinhorn, the then head of Alternative Arts in Covent Garden.  She taught us how to start a charitable organization, encouraged us and booked us in on Friday lunchtimes in the Piazza in April 1984.  That’s how we started playing in public.”

Alan fundamental in contacting Notting Hill Carnival

Alan would have been very happy to hear of the involvement of Alternative Arts in our 2012 Carnival parade. It was Alan who made the first contact with the organisers of the Notting Hill Carnival in 1984 and made it possible for the LSS to take part. Alan remembered these early contacts with the organisers of the carnival and when the LSS came 1st in the main parade in 1986 with the theme Alice in Samba Land. In an email to me in 2010 he said:

“The first time we won in 1986, the Carnival Committee was run by Pepe Francis. I had gone to the Committee and asked him “what do we need to do to fit in with the Caribbean Carnival?”. All he said was, “You pay your fees (£15) and arrive on time on the day”. He gave us absolutely zero information about judging or where the judges’ points would be nor any of the criteria, etc.”

And it’s interesting how back in 1984-86 when the organisers of the carnival faced so much hostility from the authorities he was able to see the parallels with the early days of the samba schools in Rio:

“We were pretty much obliged the Caribbean Community for having struggled all these years prior to us joining, for the right of self-expression of a minority group, because in reality they are our brothers in Carnival and suffered extreme prejudice and discrimination.  In fact, you could say that they were marginalized much like the beginning of the Samba Schools in Rio in the early 20’s.”

He was also very closely involved in making contact with many of the early Swedish samba schools – and through this, the LSS was able to travel to Uppsala, Sweden in 1986 to play the 1st European Samba Encontro, and to Turku, Finland for the 2nd.

Åke Persson fondly remembers Alan back in 1985

Åke Persson, who first joined the LSS in 1985 remembers Alan well: “He was the first person I talked to when I “found” the LSS bateria in June 1985. I perceived him as very welcoming and kind. And I had the feeling that he, like me, had a true and ardent passion for samba. After that we kept in touch whenever I came to London, not to mention when he visited Sweden.”

Alan was a member of LSS from 1984 to 1989

Alan was a member of the LSS between 1984 and 1989. His last parade with the London School of Samba in Notting Hill appears to have been in 1988. In February 1989 he was in Rio de Janeiro helping our patron Evelyn Glennie buy instruments and helping her with her first appearance with a Rio samba school (G.R.E.S. Unidos do Cabuçu). Soon after that, he was back in London with Pat Till, helping organise the famous 3rd European Samba Encontro that happened on the Southbank in July 1989. It was at this key event that our Madrinha G.R.E.S. Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel performed and baptised the LSS.

Following this event, Alan left the LSS and became the founder in late 1991 of a new samba school in London: Acadêmicos de Madureira. He was joined by a small group of sambistas from the LSS that included Robin Jones and Åke.

Alan was a founder member of IFCGABC

Also in 1991, he was one of the founders of the International Federation of Carnival Groups & Afro-Brazilian Culture – which by 1992 included the LSS, Inner Sense Percussion Orchestra and the Bristol School of Samba and some 16 other groups around the world.

Acadêmicos de Madureira first parade at Notting Hill Carnival (1992)

Acadêmicos de Madureira did their first parade in the Notting Hill Carnival in 1992. Despite this separation, the LSS benefited in the long term as some key performers from this school would later get closely
involved with the LSS: Xavier Osmir, Paul Rumbol, Aswani Hafez Hashim, Edson Bispo and Henrique da Silva (later one of the founders of the Paraiso School of Samba). Another ritmista in this group was Barak
Schmool, later the founder of the F-IRE Collective and Rhythms of the City who has helped the LSS out considerably in recent years. Also worthy of mention is Clary Salandy of the Notting hill mas band Mahogany, whom Acadêmicos also paraded within the Notting Hill Carnival. She told me:

“We are very sad. Alan worked with Mahogany in about 1994. We produced a band called Rio fantasia and he coordinated (Acadêmicos) to perform with us at Notting Hill. He also looked after myself and Speedy on a research trip to Brazil round about the same time. He was a great guy. Very talented. May God bless his soul and may he rest in peace”.

Alan moved to Brazil in 1999

As with the LSS, it’s clear that Alan also brought many people together through Academicos who would later have a profound influence on the samba scene in the UK. The group appears to have folded around 1995 and Alan moved to Brazil in 1999.  However, before he moved back to Brazil he was instrumental in protesting about the apartheid system.

First samba protest group in the UK

A staunch opponent of the apartheid system, along with another South African exile who joined the LSS, Steve Kitson (d. 1997), they were some of the main founders of Batucada Mandela. Formed around 1986, it was the first political samba protest group in the UK. They often played on the 24-hour non-stop picket outside the South African embassy and took part in many other demonstrations. Alan told me:

Batucada Mandela was born

“Batucada Mandela was an off-shoot of two groups: firstly that of The Inner London Anti-Apartheid Association and secondly that of the Bateria of the LSS. What happened was that I, being a South African, wanted to learn the protest songs of my country so I went along to a choir practice of the Anti-Apartheid Association where I met the late Steve Kitson. After singing some songs with the choir Steve told me that they were going to sing at the demonstration outside the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square soon.

It occurred to me that many of the songs lent themselves to some of the batucada rhythms we played as well as some of the samba-reggae rhythms of Olodum and Ile-Aye, except that there was a technical hitch for the LSS to join forces, and that was that the LSS was a registered charity and had a regulation on being non-party politics in its constitution at that time.

So, Pato and I got together and spoke to members asking them if they wanted to participate in the Anti-Apartheid group if the LSS lent their instruments to the players for the demonstration. This turned out to be a great success and we played periodically for the release of Nelson Mandela.” The group also played on the march against the Poll Tax in 1990, which was the first time I played with members of the LSS and how I made contact with the school.

Making contact with Alan in Brazil in 2005

I finally made contact with Alan in 2005 and through that brought him back in contact with the school after well over a decade. He was really helpful in answering lots of historical queries I had about the origins of the LSS and very keen to get updates on how the LSS was doing. He sent his congratulations to the LSS when it won the samba category for the first time in 2006. In 2009, when the school won it for the 2nd time Alan emailed me to say:

“What great news. Congratulations! Makes me feel proud . . . So, we did something worthwhile during our lifetime!!!”  The last contact I had with him was just before the 2011 Notting Hill Carnival, when he sent this message:

“Please give my best to Di! Wishing you all a great Carnival! We have our fingers crossed and have made “Despachos” on the street corners of Xerém with offerings of cachaça, manioc flour and goats heads, (the latter especially for the Vegans among you…. Rsrsrsrs),  for your success. Sarava meu filho!” Babalorixa ‘Alan da Cuíca’ Boiadeiro.

Alan made a massive contribution to UK Samba

Alan made a massive contribution to samba in the UK and can easily be considered as one of the founding fathers of samba in this country. He helped establish 2 samba schools in London and through that he was one of the people who played a key role in introducing thousands of people to Brazilian culture for the first time. And he will forever be remembered as one of the key figures in the early days of the LSS, and one of the people the school will always be indebted for his enthusiasm and the dedicated work that he put in those early years.

Sebastian Jenkins, who made many early films of the LSS said:  “Through his work with the LSS, Alan touched many lives – what he organized brought so many people together.”

Ana Marie Wallace fondly remembers Alan

Ana Marie Wallace, one of the first dancers of the LSS remembered the first time on Friday 22nd June 1984 when she heard the LSS in Covent Garden. It was a historic moment as up until then there were no dancers in the school:

“I still remember when I met Alan for the first time with two of my colleagues from Interbras, during a walk in Covent Garden during our lunch break. We were window shopping and suddenly we heard batucada sounds; we just looked at each other in disbelief, as we couldn’t believe what we were hearing, so we followed the sound and found this small group of musicians, Chilean and Brazilians playing in Covent Garden Piazza and Alan, one of them, playing the surdo. We were so happy that we decided to approach them after their short performance and after introductions and a short talk, telephone exchanges we decided there and then that we could and should try to help these musicians to achieve their dream of creating a Samba School in London.

Alan was passionate about Brazilian music

Alan was very passionate about Brazilian music and culture and committed to the development of the LSS. He was a loved member of the group and worked tirelessly with the committee to establish the LSS as the first Samba school in England, well known in Europe and also in Rio de Janeiro.

We lost contact after he moved to Brazil but heard about him through his Brazilian partner Vera from time to time about how well he was doing over there doing local community work and always connected with a samba school. Alan was a good man and will be sadly missed by friends, family and all sambistas in London and Rio de Janeiro who ever had the good fortune to meet him.”

Pru Lunberg on Alan Hayman

Pru Lunberg, who joined the LSS bateria in 1985 and worked on the committee for many years said of Alan: “He always put so much energy into all his performances for the LSS. I remember how serious he always looked when he was playing. He lived the dream! With his death, an era is lost again.”

Åke Persson commented on his death:

Åke Persson commented on his death: “Alan´s demise is a great loss for the London School of Samba and all who got to know him . . . Alan, the flute player, the linguist, the batuqueiro, the organiser, the samba school founder, the altruist, the idealist will never be forgotten. Alan RIP.”

Founding member Germán Santana

And founding member Germán Santana said: “Alan will always be remembered as one of the founder members of the London School of Samba, as well as a great musician, researcher and above all a great human being.

Memories of the beginning of LSS at Jenako Arts Centre and Covent Garden, our first Notting Hill Carnivals come rushing down my head and in all of them Alan Hayman brilla con luz propia. Saludos amigo Alan, un honor haberte conocido y compartido tanta música juntos”.

Alan Hayman married twice, he leaves widow Vera in Brazil. By his first wife Virginia he had a son Joshua (b. 1982) and through him a grandaughter.

Mestre Mags, September 2012.

More information about Alan

For more detailed information about Alan Hayman and his Brazilian musical adventures, check out this blog post with a tribute to Alan Hayman.  If anybody has any more links, photos or stories to share about Alan Hayman, we would love to hear from you.

Honouring the past members of the London School of Samba

Below we are honouring the past members of the London School of Samba and we say farewell to so many wonderful friends.  Everyone past and present at this Samba School sends their love and condolences to your families and thank you for enriching our lives.