John Postgate was one of the foremost microbiologists of his generation. He is most famous for his lifelong research on sulfate-reducing bacteria and nitrogen fixation and for his seminal contributions to understanding the survival and death of bacteria. John Postgate is also known for his specialist and non-specialist books on science, most notably Microbes and man, first published in 1986 and now in several editions and translated into several languages. He played an important role in the development and dissemination of microbiology and in the leadership of science in the UK. John will also be remembered warmly as the supervisor and mentor of aspiring young microbiologists, several of whom have gone on to distinguished careers in microbiology. His other great love was jazz: he was an amateur cornet player of note, the leader of several jazz groups and a highly knowledgeable writer, reviewer and author of two books on the subject.