(born 7 April
) is a pianist in Scottish
O'Keefe was born on a farm near the city of Warrnambool, three hours from Melbourne, Australia.
good education, both musical and academic, at a convent boarding
school, she attended the Melbourne University Music Conservatorium, where she studied violin,
piano, singing and harp.
Whilst there she was a classmate of
Douglas Gamely, who also travelled to Britain and found great fame
as a pianist, orchestra leader and arranger, most notably arranging
the bulk of Dame Joan
's lighter repertoire.
Peggy married briefly in Australia, but on the breakdown of the
marriage in 1960, she travelled to London, as has remained a
British citizen ever since.
In 1971 she met and married a second husband and - although mature
- gave birth to her only two sons. The marriage ended in
Before departing Melbourne in 1960, Peggy O'Keefe had already built
up a solid reputation as a pianist, appearing on radio broadcasts
and working as accompanist to artistes in nightclub cabaret.
After her arrival in London, she picked up where she had left off
back in Australia. She had not been in London long before she was
playing in jazz trios and quartets in establishments such as The
Stork Rooms and The Riverside Club. It was during this spell that
she played for - and rubbed shoulders with - artistes like Sammy Davis, Jr.
, Tony Bennett
, Dame Cleo
, Dizzy Gillespie
, Oscar Peterson
, and renewed an old and rather
special friendship with legendary bass player, Ray Brown
In 1962 she signed a contract with the Reo Stakis hotel empire and
travelled to Glasgow to commence her residency for six months in
the Chevalier Casino. That six months eventually became six years,
and during this time she presented many series of live music
programmes from the casino with guests from the aforementioned list
of stars and others, such as Dick Haymes
and Mark Murphy
At this time, Peggy had also been discovered by the BBC
and she went on to present a long list of music
programmes both on television and radio right through until the
1980s. She was probably one of the busiest pianists used by the BBC
and STV, since - as well as her own programmes - she was acting as
a staff pianist, taking responsibility for accompanying auditions,
recitals, singers and musicians on entertainment programmes as well
as playing piano within most of the BBC's ensembles - from jazz
trios, through chamber groups and big bands to the BBC Radio
Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. It was often
said that you could hardly put on a BBC programme which included
musicians and not see Peggy O'Keefe among them.
In the later years of her career - after the demise of live
musicians and music departments in broadcasting, Peggy kept working
in theatre, recital and concert as and accompanist to artistes like
and Kenneth McKellar
, as well as
keeping her jazz trio going and being involved playing piano and
celeste for light music and film music programmes by larger
orchestras, such as the Royal Scottish National
and the Gordon Cree