by Stan Hibbert
If ever you are fortunate enough
to find yourself in the company of Don Lusher you will quickly realize that in addition to being one of the world's
|Don was born in Peterborough and started to play
the trombone when he was only six years old, becoming the third generation to play in the Peterborough Salvation
Army Band alongside his father and grandfather. During the war Don served as a gunner signaller in the Royal Artillery
and it was only after he was demobbed that
he entered the world of professional music.
He started his career with the Joe Daniels ensemble; then on to the Maurice Winnick Orchestra; then the Squadronaires; then the Jack Parnell Orchestra; and then the Geraldo Orchestra. At each stage of his early career Don's reputation grew and grew until all of the London musical fraternity realized that they had a big international star on their very own doorstep. Finally, Don joined the ensemble with which he was to become a household name, the great Ted Heath Orchestra.
|Don's nine years as Ted's lead trombone are now
cherished history with Don making friends wherever he went and wherever he was heard. His Ted Heath CV included
several coast to coast tours of the United States where he took advantage of studying with Dick Nash and the late
Don also met Tommy Dorsey and his musicians at the Statler Hotel in New York.
As arguably Britain's top session player he has worked with some of the world's most
prestigious Music Directors and accompanied virtually all of the world's most
important artists. I recall being reliably informed by a famous London agent that
whenever Frank Sinatra toured Europe his first request for musicians was for Don
Lusher as his principal trombone.
He is also in constant demand as a soloist with Brass Bands. Indeed, I well remember
asking Don if he would do a concert with the Besses Oth' Barn Band in my home
town of Bury, with the proceed going to Bury Hospice. Don immediately agreed
and within six hours of the concert notices being posted the Town Hall was sold out.
Indeed it was clear that we could have sold out the house a countless number of
times; and, after a wonderful concert, at an impromptu party at my home, every-
one present was delighted with Don's unexpected modesty. He is also in constant
demand as a soloist with Wind Bands, Jazz Groups and Big Bands, et al.
However, before we forget, Don has a wonderfully
laconic sense of humour. I recall a story, which may be apocryphal, but strikes the right note for me knowing Don
as I do. The story goes that on a session one of Don's fellow trombonists, renowned for his fortissimo approach
to music, asked Don "can't you play loud"? "Of course", came Don's reply, "but not all
Don's C.V., is like Don himself, somewhat overwhelming.
In 1979 BBC television's hour long spectacular "Don Lusher's World of Music", produced by Yvonne Littlewood,
featured The Don Lusher Big band and Marti Caine, The Don Lusher Quartet, The Black Dyke Mills band conducted by
Major Peter Parkes, and Michael Antrobus, a 10 trombone ensemble; and perhaps the highest accolade of all: Nelson
Riddle conducting the orchestra on his own scores including "Here's That Rainy Day", a feature for Don
Lusher and strings.
The Don Lusher Trombone prize is awarded annually
in BBC Radio 2's National Big Band Competition, now in it's 25th year. As a member of the jury, Don has selected
many of today's top players for the award, including the current President of The British Trombone Society, Mark
So it goes on and on, a eulogyto
a truly great musician and a