Chris Barber

Donald Christopher Barber OBE (born 17 April 1930) is an English jazz musician, best known as a bandleader and trombonist. As well as scoring a UK top twenty trad jazz hit, he helped the careers of many musicians, notably the blues singer Ottilie Patterson, who was at one time his wife, and Lonnie Donegan, whose appearances with Barber triggered the skiffle craze of the mid-1950s and who had his first transatlantic hit, "Rock Island Line", while with Chris Barber's band. His providing an audience for Donegan and, later, Alexis Korner makes Barber a significant figure in the British rhythm and blues and "beat boom" of the 1960s.

Barber was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, the son of a statistician father and headmistress mother. He was educated at Hanley Castle Grammar School, Malvern, Worcestershire, to the age of 15, then St Paul's School in London and the Guildhall School of Music. Barber and Monty Sunshine (clarinet) formed a band in 1953, calling it Ken Colyer's Jazzmen to capitalise on their trumpeter's recent escapades in New Orleans: the group also included Donegan, Jim Bray (bass), Ron Bowden (drums) and Barber on trombone. The band played Dixieland jazz, and later ragtime, swing, blues and R&B. Pat Halcox took over on trumpet in 1954 when Colyer moved on after musical differences and the band became "The Chris Barber's Jazz Band". (read more on wikipedia)

Links To Peel

Peel was a fan of trad jazz music in his youth and mentioned on his 07 October 1999 show that he the first LP he ever bought was by Chris Barber's Jazz Band, due to the presence of Lonnie Donegan, who was the banjo player in the group:

"And the main reason I bought it was because of the banjo player with Chris Barber's Band, and there's a version on here of a New Orleans funeral tune called "Oh, Didn't He Ramble." It starts off very very slowly, and for the first couple of choruses it stays slow, and Pat Halcox who was the trumpeter comes in a little early. In the background, just after he plays a couple of notes, you can hear somebody go, "Oi!". I used to play it to my mates at school and say, "That Oi! is Lonnie Donegan."

In the autumn of 1999, Peel selected Chris Barber's Jazz Band's version of Clarence Williams' Wild Cat Blues in his Peelenium for 1955. Chris Barber, unlike many of his trad jazz contemporaries, showed a willingness to modernise his music and broaden his repertoire in the 1960s and continued performing into the twenty-first century, being acclaimed as a father figure of British jazz, blues and rock. He reunited with Lonnie Donegan when they appeared on Van Morrison's album The Skiffle Sessions - Live In Belfast 1998, and they performed together at the Glastonbury Festival of 1999. Peel was present and interviewed his idol Lonnie Donegan for the BBC (see the Lonnie Donegan page fo details). Nevertheless, it was the Barber band's early work that Peel preferred, as can be seen from the selections listed below.


Shows Played

Chris Barber -- Wild Cat Blues

Chris Barber -- Wild Cat Blues

  • 09 July 1998: Oh, Didn’t He Ramble (LP – Traditional Jazz At The Royal Festival Hall) Decca
  • 06 September 1998 (BFBS): 'Ice Cream (Compilation LP-The National Jazz Federation Presents: Traditional Jazz Live At The Royal Festival Hall, London)' (Decca)
  • 22 August 2002: Precious Lord, Lead Me On (8 x CD boxset - Lonnie Donegan - More Than Pye In The Sky) Bear Family Records
  • 22 August 2002: Take My Hand, Precious Lord (8 x CD boxset - Lonnie Donegan - More Than Pye In The Sky) Bear Family Records
  • 19 December 2002: 'On A Christmas Day (7")' (Ochre)

External Links

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