Closing Chord: Jeff Barker

(from Garden State Theatre Organ Society page at http://www.gstos.org/Jeff_Barker.htm)

We are sad to report that local theatre organist Jeff Barker passed away suddenly on December 31, 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 played most of the important instruments in the U.S, and England, and was a featured organist at three ATOS conventions. He also played for the Theatre Organ Society International at the Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Virginia.

Jeff served as house organist at theatres operated by Nelson Page in the New York Metropolitan Area for over 16 years. Many appreciative movie audiences had heard him play the 3/12 Kimball and the 2/6 Moller 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 played before the Big Screen Classics Movies shown at the Lafayette.

Since 1990 Jeff played the Robert-Morton Theatre Pipe organ at the Palace Theatre in Lake Placid, N.Y. for the Adirondack Film Society. He was 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 was 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.

Jeff was a fixture in North Jersey Theatre Organ circles for years, and will be greatly missed.