Chris Barber, OBE (1930 - 2021)
Chris Barber, often regarded as the godfather of modern British popular music thanks to his introduction of US blues artists into the UK, died 2 March, after suffering from dementia. He had announced his retirement in 2019, having led a band almost continuously for 70 years.
He brought blues artists such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Muddy Waters to the UK, feeding the burgeoning British blues boom of the early 1960s.
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 Lonnie Donegan (banjo and guitar), Jim Bray (bass), Ron Bowden (drums) and Barber on trombone. Ken Colyer left in 1954 to be replaced by Pat Halcox on trumpet and the band became "The Chris Barber Band".
Hugh Laurie meets the man who brought the Blues to Britain, jazz trombonist Chris Barber.
Donald Christopher 'Chris' Barber is best known as a jazz 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 vocalist/banjoist 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.