Don Lusher was born in Peterborough, Northamptonshire in November 1923, and started to learn the trombone when he was just six. He followed the family tradition and joined the Peterborough Salvation Army Band, playing alongside his
father and grandfather. He remained a figure in the brass-band field for the rest of his life. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Artillery, where he took part in the D-Day landings. |
He began his professional career as a sidesman with Joe Daniels and His Hot Shots, followed by 18 months spent on the lead trombone chair with Lou Praeger at Hammersmith Palais. A move into high society with Maurice Winnick's Orchestra at Ciro's Club lasted a mere four weeks but the big break was just around the corner. A chance to join the Squadronaires, sitting in the trombone section alongside George Chisholm and the experience gained over the next three years was to prove invaluable. Don was the first member of the Squadronaires not to have served in the Royal Air Force.
Theatre work with Jack Parnell's newly formed band at the Prince of Wales Theatre came next but when Jack Parnell decided to take his band on the road, Don, wanting to stay in town, accepted an offer to join Geraldo. This meant regular broadcasts and it wasn't long before Geraldo's arch rival, Ted Heath, was looking to poach the young trombonist.
In 1953 he joined Ted Heath to lead the trombone section and he became one of it's most heavily featured soloists. He was a virtuoso performer and could play anything. In the nine years spent with Heath, Don Lusher learnt the art of leading a successful band.
Lusher's international fame was fortified by the Heath band's five tours of the US and he became one of the most sought after session players in the country, working with such stars as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Barbra Streisand, Julie Andrews, Henry Mancini, Michele Legrand and Nelson Riddle who said, "Don Lusher is a consummate craftsman. He approaches the trombone with the same thoughtful attention to detail I remember in Tommy Dorsey".
The Don Lusher Big Band began in 1980 and toured internationally with various musical directors including Robert Farnon, Nelson Riddle and Henry Mancini. Following the death of Ted Heath various people took over the direction of the band but eventually came under Lusher's direction and The Ted Heath Tribute Orchestra continued under his leadership throughout the Eighties and Nineties, playing its final concert in December 2000. His ran his own big band at the same time and he used a lot of ex-Heath sidemen including Roy Willox, Kenny Baker, Tommy Whittle, Henry Mackenzie and others.
He was awarded the OBE in 2003 and died in July 2006. The Don Lusher big Band played it's final concert in 2007.
Kenny Baker Orchestra - March 3rd, 1952 (Melodisc)
Kenny Baker, Harry Lethman, Alan Franks, Freddy Clayton (tp), Harry Roche, Don Lusher (tb), Douggie Robinson, Bill Jackson, Keith Bird, Harry Klein (reeds), Stan Tracey (p), Alan McDonald (b), Johnny Flanagan (d).
The Very Thought Of You/The Night Is Long.
The Joe Daniel's Jazz Group - November 6th, 1952 (Parlophone)
Alan Wickham (tp), Don Lusher (tb), Tony Coe (cl), Stan Foster (p), Nevil Skrimshire (g), George Davis (b), Joe Daniels (d).
Riverboat Shuffle*/I Got Rhythm*/Sobbin' Blues*/Honey Babe*.
(*Living Era CD - Dixie Band Stomp)
The 1954 Melody Maker's All-Stars - March 7th, 1954 (Esquire 20-031*)
Kenny Baker (tp), Don Lusher (tb), Vic Ash (cl), Johnny Dankworth (as), Ronnie Chamberlain, (ts,sops), Ronnie Scott (ts), Harry Klein (bs), Vic Feldman (vib), Bill McGuffie (p), Tito Burns (acc), Ivor Mairants (g), Johnny Hawksworth (b), Eric Delaney (d).
For Voters Only# (2 takes, one take on*)/Gallop Poll (2 takes, one take on*)/Swingdido*.
(#Hallmark CD - Basement Bop - British jazz in the 1950s)
Ted Heath and his Music - 1955 to 1959 (Decca) Ted Heath
Johnny Keating All Stars - March 19th and 20th, 1956 (British Jazz - Oriole MG20011) Johnny Keating
Melody Maker's All-Stars - October, 1957 (All the Winners - Nixa NJT509 )
Kenny Baker, Eddie Blair, Bert Courtley (tp), George Chisholm, Keith Christie, Don Lusher (tb), Joe Harriott (as), Don Rendell, Jimmy Skidmore (ts), Harry Klein (bs), Bill Le Sage (vib), Dave Lee (p), Johnny Hawksworth (b), Allan Ganley (d).
Top score*/Mood Indigo*. (Other titles on this LP are by Kenny Baker's Half Dozen, Dill Jones Trio, Vic Ash Quintet, Don Rendell jazz Six and Cleo Laine).
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
(*Real Gone Jazz 4 CD set - Don Rendell Six Classic Albums plus bonus tracks)
Kenny Baker's Dozen - May 1st, 1958 (Nixa)
Kenny Baker, Jimmy Watson, Bobby Pratt, Pete Winslow, Bert Courtley (tp), Don Lusher, Maurice Pratt, Ken Goldie, Jackie Armstrong (tb), Jack Lewellyn, Chick Lavelle (g), Jack Fallon (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Bakerloo Non-stop* (Other titles on this LP by others).
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
Nat Gonella and his Jazz Band - February 7th, 1961 (Columbia 33SX1380)
Nat Gonella (tp,vcl), Don Lusher, Wally Smith, Ken Goldie (tb), Tony Coe (cl,as), Joe Temperley (bs), Stan Tracey (p,vib), Roy Plummer (g), Lennie Bush (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Miss Otis Regrets/Five Minutes More/Just A Kid Named Joe/Don't Get Around Much Anymore.
Tubby Hayes And His Orchestra - March 28th, 1961 (Fontana TFL5142) Tubby Hayes
Tubby Hayes Orchestra - June 8th, 1961 (BBC "Jazz Club" Broadcast. Programme introduced by Alan Dell) details
Kenny Clare / Ronnie Stephenson Big Band - July 6th, 1966 (Drum spectacular - Columbia TWO146) details
Acker Bilk and the Stan Tracey Big Brass - January, 1968 (Blue Acker - Columbia TWO230) Stan Tracey
Stan Tracey Big Brass - August 20th and 21st, 1968 (We Love You Madly - Columbia S(C)X 6320) Stan Tracey
Laurie Johnson with The London Philharmonic Orchestra and The London Jazz Orchestra - August 8th, 1969 (Synthesis - Columbia SLX 6412) Stan Tracey
Terry Smith - August 22nd,1968 (Fall out - Philips SBL7871)
Terry Smith (g) acc by: Kenny Wheeler, Greg Bowen, Les Condon (tp), Don Lusher (tb), Ray Warleigh (f,as), Bob Efford (ts), Ronnie Ross (bs), Gordon Beck (p), Jim Lawless (vib), Ron Mathewson (b), Ronnie Stephenson (d), Denis Lopez (perc), Jimmy Deuchar (arr).
My Man's Gone Now*/I Love You*/Harry's Theme*/Early Morning Groove*/Fall Out*.
(*Sunbeam CD - Fall out)
Terry Smith - October 28th,1968 (Fall out - Philips SBL7871)
Kenny Wheeler (tp,flhrn), Tony Fisher, Derek Watkins (tp), Don Lusher (tb), Roy Willox, Ray Warleigh (f,as), Bob Efford (ts), Gordon Beck (p), Jim Lawless (vib), Terry Smith (g), Ron Mathewson (b), Ronnie Stephenson (d), Peter Aherne (perc), Harry South (arr).
Morning Minor*/The Look Of Love*/Windows Of The World*.
(*Sunbeam CD - Fall out)
Kenny Baker's All Stars - December 9th, 1974 (77 S56)
Kenny Baker (tp), Don Lusher (tb), Tommy Whittle, Danny Moss (ts), Tony Lee (p), Tony Archer (b), Bill Eyden (d).
Sweet Sue*/Out Of Nowhere*/Three Little Words* (DL,DM out)/It Don't Mean A Thing* (DL,DM out).
(*Progressive CD - Kenny Baker's All Stars & The Dick Morrissey Quartet)
Ted Heath and his Music - 1967 to 2000 - Ted Heath
Peggy Lee acc. by the Jack Parnell Orchestra - March 13th, 1977 (Live in London - Spectrum/Polygram 550088)
Peggy Lee (vcl) acc. by Kenny Baker (tp), Don Lusher (tb), Bob Burns (as), Ronnie Verrell (d) + strings.
The Don Lusher Big Band - October 18th and 19th, 1979 (Don Lusher Big Band - Chandos BBR1006)
Tony Fisher, Derek Healey, Alan Downey, Eddie Blair, Henry Lowther (tp), Nat Peck, Wally Smith (tb), Don Lusher (tb,dir), Bill Geldard (b-tb), Roy Willox, Keith Bird, Tommy Whittle, Eddie Mordue (reeds), Ronnie Price (keyb), Judd Proctor, Vic Flick (g), Dave Richmond (b-g), Alf Bigden (d), Tristan Fry (perc).
Cavatina/That's Living/I Love You Porgy/Blues In The Night/Send In The Clowns/Star Wars/Stardust/Toreador Song/DL Blues/Georgia/Gospel Singers.
Tony Evans Orchestra - c1980 (Artistry in Swing - Tema STE3031)
Tony Fisher, Ronnie Hughes (tp), Don Lusher, Bobby Lamb (tb), Ray Swinfield (cl,as,fl), Danny Moss, Duncan Lamont (ts), unknown g,p,b,d.
Opus One,Take The 'A' Train/Satin Doll/Eager Beaver/Perfidia/American Patrol/Perdido/Jersey Bounce/Nine Twenty Special/String Of Pearls/Sentimental Journey/Flying Home.
The Very Best of British Jazz - October, 1983 (The very Best of British Jazz - Polyphonic PRJ501)
Kenny Baker (tp), Don Lusher (tb), Betty Smith (ts), Tony Lee (p), Tony Archer (b), Jack Parnell (d).
The Don Lusher Big Band - c1986 (Pays tribute to the great bands - Horatio Nelson SIV110)
Kenny Baker, Tony Fisher, Derek Healey, Derek Watkins (tp), Cliff Hardie, Bobby Lamb, Colin Sheen, Bill Geldard, Don Lusher (tb), Ronnie Chamberlain (as,sop), Ray Swinfield (as), Tommy Whittle (ts), Henry Mackenzie (ts,cl), Eddie Mordue (bs), Norman Stenfalt (p), Lennie Bush (b), Terry Jenkins (d).
Peanut Vendor*/Take The A Train*/I'll Never Smile Again*/Don't Be That Way*/I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm*/Kid From Red Bank*/Opus One*/Adios*/I Get A Kick Out Of You*/Early Autumn*/Caravan*/Two O'clock Jump*.
(*Horatio Nelson CD - Don Lusher pays tribute to the great bands)
The Don Lusher Big Band - c1989 (Pays tribute to the great bands Volume Two - Horatio Nelson SIV1114)
Derek Watkins, Kenny Baker, Tony Fisher, Derek Healey (tp), Bill Geldard, Chris Dean, Cliff Hardie, Colin Sheen, Don Lusher (tb), Roy Willox, Ray Swinfield (as), Tommy Whittle (ts), Henry Mackenzie (ts,cl), Eddie Mordue (bs), Ronnie Price (p), Paul Morgan (b), Terry Jenkins (d).
Trumpet Blues & Cantabile*/Pennsylvania 65000*/That Lovely Weekend*/That's Right*/West Lake*/DL Blues*/Sing sing Sing*/April In Paris*/I'm Getting Sentimental Over You*/Don't Get Around Much Anymore*.
(*Horatio Nelson CD - Don Lusher pays tribute to the great bands Volume Two)
The Don Lusher Big Band - early 1990s (Pays tribute to the great bands Volume Three - Horatio Nelson SIV1125)
personnel includes: Derek Watkins, Kenny Baker, Tony Fisher, (probably Derek Healey) (tp), Don Lusher, Chris Dean, (probably Bill Geldard, Cliff Hardie, Colin Sheen) (tb), Roy Willox, Ray Swinfield (as), Tommy Whittle (ts), Henry Mackenzie (ts,cl), (probably Eddie Mordue) (bs), Ronnie Price (p), Paul Morgan (b), Terry Jenkins (d).
Love For Sale*/At Last*/Carnival*/Cute*/Benny Rides Again*/Woodchoppers Ball*/Song Of India*/Tea For Two Cha Cha*/Pinetops Boogie Woogie*/Moonlight Serenade*/Don's Theme*/Intermission Riff*.
(*Horatio Nelson CD - Don Lusher pays tribute to the great bands Volume Three)
The live recording detailed below was made at Ronnie Scott's Club in Birmingham...
Kenny Baker's Dozen - September 3rd and 4th, 1993 (The Boss is Home - Big Bear ESSCD224)
Kenny Baker, Derek Healey, Bruce Adams, Simon Gardner (tp), Don Lusher, Bill Geldard, Richard Edwards (tb), Roy Willox (fl,as), Vic Ash (cl,ts), Alan Barnes (as,ts), Dave Willis (ts,bassax), Eddie Mordue (bs), Brian Dee (p), Dave Green (b), Ralph Salmins (d).
Swingin' The Blues/Stumbling/Street Of Dreams/Slightly Latin/What Am I Here For/Threesome/When Sunny Gets Blue/Squatty Roo/Golden Cress/Sorta Ragtime/The Boss Is Home/More Than You Know/Harlem Airshaft/It's All Right With Me/In A Jam.
The Don Lusher Big Band - mid 1990s (Pays tribute to the great bands Volume Four - Horatio Nelson)
personnel unknown - probably similar to other dates...
Mission to Moscow*/Shiny Stockings*/One O'clock Jump*/ (other titles unknown).
(*Horatio Nelson CD - Don Lusher pays tribute to the great bands Volume Four)
The Best Of British Jazz - Live "Norwich Playhouse" January 31st, 1997 (Live at The Norwich Playhouse - Merlin Audio MER99100)
Kenny Baker (tp), Don Lusher (tb), Roy Willox (cl,as), Brian Lemon (p), Lennie Bush (b), Jack Parnell (d).
Let's Try One/Lover Man/Indiana/Just Squeeze Me/It Might As Well Be Spring/Dear Old Southland/Fascinating Rhythm/You Rascal You/Days Of Wine and Roses/Crazy Rhythm/Blues For Sandy/After You've Gone/The Lady's In Love With You/Tribute To JP/A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody/Cotton Tail.