The Background music on this page has been computer synthesized and supplied by the late Pete Roxburgh .

The tune you are listening to was written by Syd Lawrence and was his bands Signature Theme.



May 5th 2004

Syd Lawrence.
The Man who brought back the Big Bands to us.


Once again we celebrate and remember him.

Syd Lawrence a trumpet player, highly regarded as a musician and arranger during the Second World War where he served in Cairo playing and arranging for the RAF service bands.

A fellow Big Band Buddy now living in Australia
Pete Roxburgh worked closely with Syd, and he himself was in control of many of the RAF service bands in the Middle East.
Pete now in his eighties still arranges for the Australian
Glenn Miller Tribute Band directed by Dennis Hollingsworth.

Pete Roxburgh in the 50's

Stan Hibbert then

When Syd Lawrence left the services he played with several of the leading dance bands of the time, finally joining the BBC's Northern Dance Orchestra in 1953. He stayed with this band for 16 years playing along side fellow trumpet player Stan Hibbert.

Stan today

Over the many years the Northern Dance Orchestra played for the BBC appearing regularly on Radio and television. It had been the BBC's policy not to allow staff orchestras to make commercial recordings. So, apart from a black disc LP made for the BBC Records in 1971, to celebrate 21 years if light music in the North Region, there were no records of the NDO available to the public. Stan Hibbert writes in his article about the band ?
It was almost as if the great ensemble had never existed and some wonderful musicians were unable to let their friends and relations hear the music that they had performed so beautifully, when they were in their prime.
But wait! There's a sting in the tail.

One morning in Autumn, 1999, I was sitting in my front room when the doorbell rang. I answered the call and was confronted
by Ian Parr, a former senior BBC sound engineer I had not seen for almost 40 years. Ian said ?hello? and handed me a CD. ?
Play that now? he told me, and I did. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. It was vintage NDO with all the brilliance and disciplined musicianship that I had almost forgotten has once existed.

Ian then told me that the recordings were tapes of the NDO made in the mid 1960's when the orchestra was probably at its best, and all of the items were live performances.
The next stop was BBC Music which graciously and generously gave its permission for the CD to be published, subject to an acknowledgement of the Corporations acquiescence printed on the CD cover.?

This CD is now available an has been receiving high acclaim over the airwaves by all network who have been playing it.
Stan Hibbert is at
( where you can read
more about this wonderful orchestra.

After 16 years playing with the NDO Syd Lawrence was beginning to get fed up with playing the music of the day and wanted desperately to play the music of his youth, his favourite being Glenn Miller.
So in 1967 as an after work get-together Syd recruited several key players from the NDO and some semi-profession players who lived near by and he formed a rehearsal band to play the music of Glenn Miller. Syd had painstakingly transcribed the arrangements from the original 78's and was so skilful at doing this that he did not miss the every subtlety within the arrangements that proved to be so successful with the Glenn Miller sound. On Tuesday nights, after work with the NDO, Syd got his musicians together in the Mersey Hotel in Manchester and played his first Glenn Miller arrangement, 'A String of Pearls' followed by the short version of 'Rhapsody in Blue'. With the sound of this beautiful music flowing through the walls, windows and corridors of the Hotel, slowly one by one people could not resist the temptation to follow the sound and sit in watching spellbound as the music they so loved back in the forties was now being played once more. It wasn't too long that so many people began to pack themselves into the room that Syd was forced to find a bigger Hotel and bigger rooms. The word was out that this band was the greatest band to be heard in England since Glenn Miller . One day a television producer for Yorkshire Television was in the audience to hear the band and invited Syd to appear with a new television series as supporting orchestra to the Sez Les Show with Les Dawson. Syd was worried that if he took thejob with the independent network the BBC would soon sack him, and in those days it was a risk that no one wanted to take, to be out of work especially at this period of the late sixties when the Big Band scene was hitting an all time low. But he was convinced by his fellow musicians, and friends to take the chance and he did.
The BBC did not seem to mind but it was soon after this when the whole country was now seeing and hearing this band that
enquires started pouring in. Everyone wanted to see the band and Syd made a risky decision at that time to take the band on
the road. From that time on, the band has not been out of work, and thirty seven years later the bands is still being voted the top
Big Band in the Country. (Big band International Pole.)

When Syd started the band his arrangements were mainly Glenn Miller, and when I first heard the band broadcast, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. At last the sound engineers have found a way of electronically re-enhancing Glenn Miller's original recording to
make them sound as if recorded today, and stereo as well, this was marvellous. But it meant that I would now have to replace my hundreds of Miller recordings with these new enhanced ones. But then came the shock as the announcer said, ? and that was The Syd Lawrence Orchestra?. The Syd Lawrence Orchestra?, I had never heard of it, but I was soon to find out. Over all the years I have been collecting Glenn Miller music, I had never heard such a band able to re-create Glenn's Music so precisely.
Since Glenn's death and when in 1946 Tex Beneke reformed the
Glenn Miller official band which has been consistently followed by
other official bands led by, Ray McKinley, Buddy DeFranco,
Jimmy Henderson, Peanuts Hucko, Buddy Morrow and Larry
O'Brien, none have been as close as the Syd Lawrence Orchestra
for the true Miller sound. Larry O'Brien's today band perhaps as being the closest. All these bands and some of the copy bands of Ralph Flanagan,Ray Anthony and Jerry Gray were all good bands and some great, my favourites being Tex Beneke and Ray McKindly bands , but none captured that wonderful sweet sound Glenn's Band produced in the early 1940's. Syd Lawrence did.

Syd Lawrence 1971

Syd Lawrence retired from touring in 1994 and the bandwas led then by Bryan Pendleton (arranger pianist with
the band) who's business partner was promoter Tony Wild, between them they ran the band until Trombone
player Chris Dean took over the orchestra as musical director with business partner David Bothwell. Sadly on
the 5th May 1998 Syd Lawrence died suddenly from a recurring aneurysm which had nearly killed him a year
before. He was and is sadly missed by his many thousands of dedicated fans.

Chris Dean
Chris Dean's Syd Lawrence Orchestra now continues touring the country with sell out concerts and he is determined to keep the band
alive. Over many years with Syd at the helm the band played not only the music of Glenn Miller but all the great big bands of those days, of the thirties forties and fifties. Les Brown, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Buddy Morrow, Stan Kenton and many others but now Chris Dean has introduced new tunes and medleys such as The Bond themes which is
pleasing audience everywhere very they appear.

Big Band Promoter Tony Wild Talks about his Friend Syd Lawrence 

Syd Lawrence

Syd Lawrence, the man that gave us back the Big Bands

Tributes to Syd Lawrence

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