click the pics
The Tommy Sampson Orchestra
20 Mighty Men
|From its debut in the Eldorado Ballroom,
Leith, Edinburgh right up to its demise in December 1949, this was one of
the greatest big bands that Britain has ever known. Playing the outstanding
scores of Edwin Holland it had a power and drive of awesome intensity, generating
tremendous excitement that never failed to thrill listeners and players
alike. For a musician, the experience of playing in this band was mind-bending
- there is no other way of describing it. Even today, when they meet, ex-members
feel a strong bond of kinship that no other band has ever produced among
The band did not play out-and-out jazz. The library was almost 100% commercial music, but arranged and played in a way that has never been equalled. Most of its members went on to become the stalwarts of the British music profession. Some, like Alan Davey, Ralph Hutchinson and Joe Temperley, went on to further successes in the USA.
Although the band made very many BBC broadcasts it never made a commercial recording. Many of the broadcasts were transcribed on to 78 rpm shellac discs by a private London company by order, exclusively for the band members. Today these are collectors' items.
The lineup of the band in 1947 was:
Stan Reynolds, Duncan Campbell, Alec McGregor, Bert Courtley, trumpets
Ralph Hutchinson, Clare Welsh, Bill Paxton, Andy Young, trombones
George Hunter, Lew Warburton, Joe Temperley, Henry McKenzie, Jimmy Waugh, saxes
Dave Simpson, piano; Terry Walsh, guitar/vocals; Sammy Stokes, bass; Dougie Cooper, drums
Later on Wally Smith, Johnny Keating, Maurice Pratt, Cyril Narbeth, Ron Simmonds, Bunny Roberts, Freddy Syer, Danny Moss, Tommy Cook, Roy Bull, Terry Lewis, Charlie Evans, Mike Senn, Mike Asher, Stan Hibbert, Ken Goldie, Andy Dennits, Phil Seamen, Johnny Hawkesworth, Gloria Duval, Linda Russell, Alan Dean, Ann Grey, Rosemary Squires and many, many others passed through the band.
In 1948 the Sampson band made a three-months tour of Europe for Combined Services Entertainment (CSE). (I was still in the RAF, so could not take part in the tour.)
The band folded at the end of 1949 for financial reasons, and Tommy Sampson became a member of the Sapphires vocal group for many years. But playing-wise he is still going strong. By last reports he now has a big band in Perth, Scotland.
Unfortunately, photographs of the Sampson band are few and far between. The members of the Sampson brass section in the top photograph, taken in 1948, reading from left to right, starting at the top, are:
1. Mike Asher (hidden), Stan Hibbert, Stan Reynolds, Charlie Evans, Ron
The rest of the band, unseen in the photograph, were:
2. From left to right: Dougie Cooper, drums; Terry Walsh, guitar,vocals; Bushy Thompson (hidden), Ron Simmonds, Terry Lewis, trumpets; Tommy Cook, Ken Goldie, trombones; Roy Bull, Dennis Ackerman, Lew Warburton, saxes.
3. Terry Lewis, Ron Simmonds and Vernon Hall (Bushey) Thompson, trumpets, with the heads of Tommy Cook and Ken Goldie, trombones below. A bit of Phil Seamen can be seen over on the left.
4. From left: Charlie Payne, Henry MacKenzie and Joe Temperley.
5. Back row: Andy Dennitts, piano (out of shot); Dougie Cooper, drums;
Johnny Hawkesworth, bass; Ken Goldie, Wally Smith, Johnny Keating, Jack
6. Henry MacKenzie and Mike Senn. (CSE tour)
7. Back row: Dougie Cooper, drums; Johnny Hawkesworth, bass; Mike Asher,
Chick Norton, Charlie Evans, trumpets;
8. The Vocal Group: Joe Temperley, Rosemary Squires, Tommy, Johnny Keating and Charlie Evans.
9. Dougie Cooper and Johnny Hawkesworth.
10. On the steps of the BFN Studios, Hamburg in 1948
11. Gloria Duval and Terry Walsh
12. Gloria Duval and Emma Jones in 2003
Photos 4,5,6,7, 8,9 and 10 supplied by Mike Senn.
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