When Reg Webb passed away last year, the town was robbed of an extremely gifted and much loved musician.

For many he was the guy who took to the Colchester Arts Centre stage, as one half of the Short People, each Christmas to put on one of the venue's most popular gigs.

For others he was one of the best pianists in the business, the go-to session and touring musician for the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Susi Quatro.

For 80s pop star Nik Kershaw, he was the reason he got good.

"He kind of set me on my way," he tells me. "I was playing in bands in Ipswich in the Seventies and one of the key groups at that time was Fusion.

"Reg was the keyboardist and I was a great admirer of him and the rest of the band so when I was aksed to be their guitarist I jumped at the chance.

"I was playing the King William pub at the time and Kenn from the band heard us play. He said they needed a new guitarist and it was just such a huge compliment. I was properly punching above my weight."

And it didn't get any less difficult for Nik when he started gigging with them.

"I was really struggling to get around these tunes," he continues, "but they were really accommodating.

"The next three years were the best training anyone could have for a life in the music industry. We did pub gigs, big concerts and even dinner/dancers playing whatever was in the charts of the day to Cole Porter."

After three years playing with Fusion, the recession hit and the gigs dried up and Nik went out on his own, eventually hitting the big time with songs such as Wouldn't It Be Good, I Won't Let the Sun Go Down On Me, and The Riddle.

But Nik hadn't forgotten the man who had helped him start out.

"Towards the end of Fusion," Nik adds, "I was starting to write and Reg was a huge part of that, exposing me to all kinds of different types of music.

"When we were recording the first album, Human Racing, we were struggling with the title track, which was an old song from the Fusion days.

"Eventually the producer said 'look, who was the guy who played on the original' and that was Reg, so I called him up and he came into the studio and nailed it in less than five minutes."

Over the many years I've been working at the newspaper I'd interviewed Reg several times and on every occasion he told me how proud he was of having some involvement with Nik's successful career.

When I tell Nik this, he is is genuinely humbled.

"That was the measure of the man," Nik says, "he never begrudged anyone their success and was always generous with his time and talent."

But then Reg was much more than the guy who gave Nik a step up.

Over the years Reg worked and recorded with likes of Lenny Kravitz, Vanessa Paradis, Shirley Bassey, Steve Harley, and Suzi Quatro, to Martin Taylor, John McLaughlin, Jimmy Witherspoon and John Etheridge.

Then there were the various bands Reg fronted from the Reg Webb Trio, James Webley Trio (later James Webley Fusion) and finally, Fusion, comprising Reg, Kenn Elson on bass, Alan Clarke on drums and Nik Kershaw on guitar. Their final album, retitled Till I Hear From You has recently been re-released on AngelAir Records.

Post-Millennium, Reg formed The 3Bs with drummer Andrew Dowding and the late Lincoln Anderson on bass.

Reg was also one of the acts at the Colchester Arts Centre Jazz Club’s 2016 Relaunch Night, when his trio later accompanied guitarist John Etheridge. He also sat in with pianist/singer Janet Seidel later that year and last performed at the club with his fusion group, Reg and The Readers.

As a poignant memorial to Reg, Steve Wright of the arts centre jazz club is organising a fundraising concert featuring many of the area’s top musicians who performed with Reg over the years, including the two surviving members of Fusion, Nik Kershaw and Alan Clarke, as they pay their own musical tribute to a fellow musician they revered.

"At the time I thought it was just going to be a little get together in a pub," he reveals, "but when I heard it was going to be this bigger gig at the arts centre I was more than happy to oblige.

"I went to see him in hospital five days before he died and we had a lovely chat, just like old times. He was such a great guy.

"Back in the late Nineties I was writing a song called Have a Nice Life and I remember the intro came really easy to me. At first I wondered if it was something I had heard before but nothing sprung to mind. It was only after Reg died and I was going through the old songs, I realised it was from one of Reg's.

"He must have known it was there but he never said anything.

"That was Reg Webb."

Fusion Legacy, Reg's Readers, Crissy Lee Quartet, Frank Weatherley Trio play the Colchester Arts Centre on May 5.

Doors open at 6.30pm with the first band on at 7pm. Tickets are £14, available from the box office on 01206 500900.

All the performers have generously waived their fees to help raise as much money as possible for cancer charities in Reg’s memory.