CHRIS BARBER RETIRES AFTER
65 YEARS AS A
BANDLEADER AND PIONEER OF BLUES IN
The Big Chris Barber Band will carry on as a tribute to his rich musical
- Trombonist/bandleader Chris Barber has announced his permanent
retirement from full-time music after leading his internationally
popular band since 1954. His original small group initially played in
jazz clubs but by the late 50s became an attraction in large concert
halls throughout the UK and Europe.
Chris Barber's Jazz Band first toured the USA in 1959 after
having a million-selling hit with Petite Fleur that year, featuring
clarinetist Monty Sunshine.
Barber's passion for Afro-American music brought many American blues and
gospel legends to Britain who appeared with his band, including Sonny
Terry & Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters, Louis Jordan, Sonny Boy Williamson
and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Together with his business partner Harold
Pendleton, Chris opened the celebrated Marquee Club in London in 1958
where many British blues performers were first showcased including
Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated and The Rolling Stones.
Chris Barber's influence on the European music scene has been an
extremely significant one, ranging from traditional jazz to Chicago
blues, always played with great dedication to the music he loved. In
fact, Barber led a band for more years than his hero Duke Ellington who
achieved a mere half-century!
Now that Chris has retired, The Big Chris Barber Band will carry
on as a tribute to his rich musical legacy.
Born in Welwyn, Hertfordshire in 1930, Chris became an avid collector of
jazz and blues records before buying his first trombone at age 18 and
formed a semi-professional band in 1949 when he recorded for the first
time. He studied trombone and double-bass at the Guildhall School of
Music and assembled his first professional band in 1953, fronted by
trumpeter Ken Colyer. Colyer was replaced by Pat Halcox in 1954 who
remained with Barber for 54 years. Chris also featured a skiffle group
with singer/guitarist Lonnie Donegan, which led to a national craze for
such blues-based music. The powerful blues singer Ottilie Patterson, who
later married Chris, starred with his band for 20 years.
Over the years Barber successfully developed his Jazz and Blues Band
and, due to his love of Duke Ellington's music, in recent times he
augmented his personnel and renamed it The Big Chris Barber Band
featuring many talented young musicians, bringing a new lease of life to
his music and touring widely. The band recorded prolifically over the
years in its many forms with numerous special guests. Barber was awarded
the OBE in 1991. His autobiography Jazz Me Blues, co-written with Alyn
Shipton, appeared in 2014.
The double album
"Memories of My Trip"
featuring his career-spanning
collaborations with other jazz, blues, skiffle and gospel luminaries is
being re-issued in CD format 11th
October by The Last Music
Listen: MEMORIES OF MY TRIP
Watch: Chris Barber with Andy Fairweather Low and Jools Holland
At the time of writing, quotes were available from:
ANDY FAIRWEATHER LOW: "There is no more important musician in my life
than Chris. Nobody has done
more to shape the musical scene that I am part of than Chris.
I was lucky enough to tour as a guest with Chris and his great
band. I will continue to tell people about the importance of his musical
footprint. You've done more than enough Chris...time to sit back and
pass the baton on."
BILLY BRAGG: "Chris Barber's influence on British popular music, be it
through playing jazz, creating skiffle or promoting R&B, has been
immense. His role in inspiring the world-beating British groups of the
1960s cannot be overestimated."
used to see Chris regularly when he came to Manchester with his band in
the early Fifties and it is amazing that he's
continued to entertain worldwide fans throughout so many years. Ever
since those early days he has always been a good and supportive friend
to me and his legion of fans. I was sorry to hear that he is retiring
from live performances and I sincerely wish him well. We will miss him
entertaining us with his unique trombone playing and leadership."
MARK KNOPFLER: "There's
a short path from Chris Barber's
front door to the first British rock records and my first musical
passion, Lonnie Donegan. I didn't
know it at the time, but it was Chris playing bass on Donegan's
which turned out to be inspirational for so many British rockers. Chris
contribution has been immense, and I salute him"
Chris Barber, the sum total of Britain's
contribution to popular music would be
by Frankie Vaughan."
until today, Chris Barber has always been like a father-figure to me; I
cherish the times when he invited me to sing and play with his band
and when he returned the compliment by gracing (or, as he liked to put
the stage or recording-studio with The Blues Band. An inspiration and a
role-model; thank you, Chris!"
SIR TIM RICE:
work in so many areas of jazz, blues and popular music since the end of
the Second World War has been immense and often criminally underrated.
It is very sad to hear that he is retiring from live performances which
he continued to give with energy and panache until well into his ninth
decade. He achieved great success and popularity during his long career
but few of his stature have had such an influence on the development of
British music across so many styles and generations."
13, 2019 - Michael Pointon / Kate Barber
For further information contact:
Artist website: http://www.chrisbarber.net
Label website: http://www.lastmusic.co.uk