At the peak time of his career, the worldwide famous trombonist Chris Barber had the same popularity as the Beatles. He made jazz famous in Great Britain, his influence extended to the later superstar Paul McCartney. Now the great bandleader has passed away at the age of 90. Barber has always been considered the pop star among the British jazz musicians. That was due to his super hit Ice Cream. Barber was one of the last great bandleaders and had other popular hits with Wild Cat Blues and Petit Fleur.
His Career Began 70 Years Ago
His career began in the late 1940s. Everything started when he began to play classic New Orleans jazz. A few years later, he was already reaching a mainstream audience. That was new for jazz musicians back then. For the first time, they got an audience that was not only interested in jazz. His classical training shaped his conception of the importation of jazz. Barber believed that despite all the freedom, you had to play the right notes. In 1953, he founded his ensemble and called it the Chris Barber Jazz Band. As jazz turned to bebop, Barber was reintroducing the traditional form of this music. New Orleans jazz experienced a new boom.
Paul McCartney Adored Him
His hunger for music across borders also led to the skiffle becoming popular in the UK. He played bass on Lonnie Donegan’s early hit Rock Island Line. This music encouraged many young people to imitate their role models. Among them were the later members of The Beatles. Paul McCartney thanked him many years later. He wrote the instrumental piece Cat Call for Chris Barber. The legendary trombonist even left his mark on the London club scene. Together with a business partner, he founded the famous Marquee Club. The Rolling Stones, for example, later appeared there. Barber brought much African American gospel and blues legends to the UK. He helped the electric guitar find its way into the rhythm and blues scene in a roundabout way.
Willing To Experiment Well Into Old Age
Barber’s willingness to experiment was to continue throughout his long career. So he performed with the complex compositions of Joe Zawinul and Charles Mingus. He entered into collaborations with Jools Holland and Van Morrison. Even in old age, he was careful to keep his ensemble together and to perform live with them. He was active for 70 years and made his fans happy with his music. The British daily The Guardian announced that Chris Barber had died at the age of 90.
He has recently had dementia. The musician had only retired from the stage about a year ago. The main reason for this was a fall. From then on, he was only a private citizen. Barber was married to the blues singer Ottilie Patterson for a long time. The two divorced in 1983 but continued to work together. With his death, the jazz world loses another important representative who had done great things for the arts for decades. We will remember him as the godfather of British jazz.