Ted Heath

born on 30/3/1902 in Wandsworth, London, United Kingdom

died on 18/11/1969 in London, England, United Kingdom

Ted Heath (bandleader)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Ted Heath (bandleader)

George Edward "Ted" Heath (30 March 1902 18 November 1969) was a British musician and big band leader.

He led Britain's greatest post-war big band [1] recording more than 100 albums [2] and selling over 20 million records.[3] Considered the most famous and successful band in Britain [4][5] it remained active for 55 years until 2000.[4]

Musical beginnings

After playing tenor horn at the age of six, encouraged by his father, the leader of the Wandsworth Town Brass Band, Heath later switched to trombone.[6][7]

Earning a living for his family in the post-war years he, and his brother Harold with three other musicians, formed a band that played to commuters outside London Bridge Station before winding their way along the streets in London to a location outside the Queens Hall Gardens venue. It was here that Heaths professional career began as he was spotted on the street and asked to play with the Jack Hylton Band [8] who had a residence there. He did not last long, not having the experience required, but it gave him the ambition to pursue a career as a professional musician.[7][9]


Bert Firman [1924-1925]; Jack Hylton [1925-1927]; Ambrose [1928-1936]

His first real band gig was with an American band on tour in Europe the Southern Syncopation Orchestra which had an engagement in Vienna, Austria and needed a trombone player. The drummer for this band, Benny Payton, taught Heath all about Jazz and Swing. Heath had to pay his own way back from Austria when the band ran out of money.[7]

He next played with the Metro-Gnomes, a small band fronted by Ennis Parkes, who later married Jack Hylton. In late 1920, Heath again joined Hylton's theatre band.[7]

From 1925 to 1926 Heath played in the Kit Cat Club band led by American Al Starita.[10] There he heard Bunny Berrigan, Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Whiteman when they toured Europe.[7]


Ambrose [1928-1936]; Sydney Lipton [1936-1939]; Geraldo [1939-1944]

In 1928, he joined Bert Ambrose's orchestra at the Mayfair Hotel in London and played there until 1935 when he moved on to Sydney Lipton's orchestra at the Grosvenor House. Ambrose, a strict disciplinarian, taught Heath how to be a bandleader. It was during this time that Heath became the most prominent trombone player in England, renowned for his perfect tone. He played on numerous recordings.

In September 1939 the war caused the immediate disbandment of the Sydney Lipton Band, which was on tour in Scotland at the time. Heath, his wife Moira and children went back to London. In late 1939, Heath joined Maurice Winnick's Dorchester Hotel band.

During the late 30s and early 40s, Heath also played as a sideman on several Benny Carter albums.


Geraldo [1939-1944]

In 1940, Heath joined Geraldo's orchestra and played numerous concerts and broadcasts during the war traveling to the Middle East to play to the Allied Forces based there. He often became one of the "boys" in Geraldo's vocal group, 'Three Boys and a Girl'.

In 1941, Geraldo asked his band members to submit a favorite tune to include in their broadcasts. Heath had composed a song "That Lovely Weekend", after his wife had written him a poem on a rare weekend together amongst his war travels, and he set this to music. Heath suggested "That Lovely Weekend" to Geraldo and it was orchestrated, with Dorothy Carless on vocal, and was an immediate wartime hit. The royalties from this song and another composition "Gonna Love That Guy" allowed Heath to form his own band.

Ted Heath and his Music: band formation and career

Heath was inspired by Glenn Miller and his Army Air Force Band and spoke with Miller at length about forming his own band when Miller toured England with the USAAF Orchestra. Heath admired the immaculate precision of the Miller ensemble and felt confident that he could emulate Millers success with his own orchestra.

In 1944, Heath talked Douglas Lawrence, the Dance Music Organizer for the BBC's Variety Department, into supporting a new band with a broadcasting contract. Lawrence was skeptical as Heath wanted a much larger and more jazz orientated band than anyone had seen in Britain before.[9] This band followed the American model, and featured 5 Saxes, 4 Trombones, 4 Trumpets, Piano, Guitar, Bass and Drums. The new Ted Heath Band, originally organized as a British "All Star Band" playing only radio dates, was first heard on a BBC broadcast in 1944.

In 1945, the BBC decreed that only permanent, touring bands could appear on radio. So Ted Heath and his Music was officially formed on D-Day, 1944.

In late 1945, American bandleader Toots (Tutti) Camarata [11] came to UK as musical director for the film London Town. This film was to be Britain's first attempt to emulate the Movie-musicals of studios such as MGM, and Camarata commissioned Heath to provide his band as the nucleus for the film's orchestra.

Heath arranged a stint at the Winter Gardens at Blackpool in 1946, a Scandinavian tour, a fortnight at the London Casino with Lena Horne, and backed Ella Fitzgerald at the London Palladium.

Huge popularity quickly followed and Heath's Band and his musicians were regular Poll Winners in the Melody Maker and the NME (New Musical Express) Britains leading music newspapers. Subsequently Heath was asked to perform at two Royal Command Performances in front of King George VI in 1948, and 1949.[12]

In 1947 Heath persuaded impresario Val Parnell, uncle of the band's star drummer Jack Parnell, to allow him to hire the London Palladium for alternating Sundays for his Sunday Night Swing Sessions. The band caused a sensation and eventually played 110 Sunday concerts, ending in August 1955, consolidating the band's popular appeal from the late 40's. These concerts allowed the band to play far more out and out jazz than it could otherwise do in ballrooms. In addition to the Palladium Sunday night concerts the band appeared regularly at The Hammersmith Palais and toured the UK on a weekly basis.

1950s and US tour

In April 1956 Heath arranged his first American tour. This was a ground breaking reciprocal agreement between Heath and Stan Kenton, who would tour Britain at the same time as Heath toured the US. The tour was a major negotiated agreement with the British Musicians' Union and the American Federation of Musicians, which broke a 20-year union deadlock. Heath contracted to play a tour that included Nat King Cole, June Christy and the Four Freshmen that consisted of 43 concerts in 30 cities (primarily the southern states) in 31 days (7,000 miles) climaxing in a Carnegie Hall concert on 1 May 1956.[13] At this performance, the band's instrument truck was delayed by bad weather. The instruments finally arrived just minutes before the curtain rose. The band had no time to warm up or rehearse. There were so many encore calls at the Carnegie Hall performance that Nat King Cole (who was backstage, but not on the bill) had to come out on stage and ask people to leave.

During the tour, Nat King Cole was attacked on stage in Birmingham, Alabama by a group of white segregationists. Heath was so appalled he nearly canceled the remainder of the tour but was persuaded by Cole to continue. They remained firm friends until Cole's death and collaborated musically on many occasions.

Heath successfully toured the US many times and also toured Australia and Europe on several occasions.

The 1950s was the most popular period for Ted Heath and His Music during which a substantial repertoire of recordings were made. In 1958 nine albums were recorded. He became a household name throughout the UK, Europe, Australasia and the US. He won the New Musical Express Poll for Best Band/Orchestra in 1952,1953,1954,1955,1956,1957,1958,1959,1960,1961.[14] Heath was asked to perform at two Royal Command Performances1951 for King George VI and 1954 for Queen Elizabeth II.[12]

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1959 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre.

Professional relationships

In addition to Cole, Heath established close personal and professional relationships with Woody Herman,[9] Count Basie,[9] Marlene Dietrich,[9] Johnny Mathis[9] and Tony Bennett.[9] He worked with Sarah Vaughan,[15] Ella Fitzgerald[16] Lena Horne; June Christy; Mel Torme; The Four Freshmen and others. His band members included Ronnie Scott, an early member of the band before going on to open his legendary London jazz club, the pianist Stan Tracey, trumpeters Kenny Baker, Duncan Campbell, sax players Don Rendell and Tommy Whittle, trombonists Don Lusher and Wally Smith, drummers Jack Parnell and Ronnie Verrell and double bass Johnny Hawksworth. The addition of singers Dickie Valentine, Lita Roza and Dennis Lotis in the 50s gave the band more teenage appeal. He commissioned scores from all the top arrangers of the era with more than 800 original arrangements as part of the bands library. Arrangers included Tadd Dameron, George Shearing,[17] Reg Owen, John Keating; Kenny Graham;[18][19] Ken Moule; Bob Farnon; Woolf Phillips;[20] Bill Russo;[21] Johnny Douglas;[22] Ron Goodwin;[23] Ralph Dollimore.


Heath and his band appeared in several more films after London Town including Dance Hall [1950]; Its a Wonderful World [1956] and Jazz Beat [1960]. His theme "Listen to My Music" introduced many specialties including Opus One; The Champ; Lullaby of Birdland; Dragnet; Skin Deep; Hot Toddy and Swingin Shepherd Blues and the band achieved considerable chart success in the UK and the US.

Big Band comparisons

The band compared favorably with the best of Americas big bands as confirmed by Count Basie[9] in his testimonial to Heath on Heaths 21st Anniversary album, and is generally accepted as the best swing band that Britain ever produced.[24]


Heath was an early pioneer of Deccas Phase 4 Stereo recordings in the early 60s. He continued to commission a huge number of original scores and arrangements and some of his biggest US chart successes came during this time. He performed continuously and successfully until his health faltered in 1964 suffering a cerebral thrombosis on his 62nd birthday and collapsing on stage in Cardiff. Thereafter the band toured less, but continued to record several albums.

Death and continuance of band 1970s, 1980s, 1990s

He died in 1969 at the age of 67, but the band re-formed after a UK Thames Television tribute broadcast in the early 70s [4] with the approval of the Heath family, and went on performing concerts with great success. Initially some early 1970s recordings were recorded under the musical direction of Roland Shaw Ralph Dollimore and Stan Reynolds,[4] but thereafter all recordings were supervised by trombonist Don Lusher, who led the band for 25 years until 2000, with mostly original Heath alumni. The final concert in December 2000, was a sell out at Londons Festival Hall, attended by most Heath personnel past and present and the Heath family.[2] The band at that performance was made up almost entirely of players who had played under Ted Heath's leadership. Numerous radio and television tributes have been broadcast over the years.

Personal life

Heath was married twice. Firstly in 1924 to Audrey Keymer who died in 1932. There were two sons from the marriage, Raymond and Robert. His second marriage was to Moira Tracey a ballet dancer who appeared in one of the first television transmissions by John Logie Baird on the BBC, and went on to be a prolific lyricist and songwriter. She received a special award for services to television, the 'Freedom of the City of London' in recognition of her services to songwriting and a British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors 'Gold Badge Award'.[25] She died on 24 January 2000 in Weybridge, Surrey, England. There were four children from this marriage, Martin, Valerie, Nicholas and Timothy.[6]

Two of Heaths sons, Nick Heath[26] and Tim Heath, continued the musical and entertainment tradition in the family by becoming successful artiste managers, record company and music publishing company owners, and Nick Heath continues his entertainment business career as a film producer.[26] James Heath (Heaths grandson Nick Heath's son) is a film and music video director.[27]


Compiled from Ted Heath 21st Anniversary Album[9] Interviews by Alan Dell [28]

Count Basie:
Youve got a band... Ted Heath... He scares me to death... When they sent those first Heath records over to the States they really knocked everybody out... For me I think Ted is the best precision band and so very entertainingI mean so far as Im concerned I think Ted is the most

Stan Kenton:
Your music has become such an institution it seems that we have always had it... I do know that without you, big band music and jazz would not be as it is today... Your taste and integrity in guiding your arrangers, composers and musicians has always been of the highest order... Youve done more than your share in exposing the best grade of music to those hungry for it all over the world...

Woody Herman:
I saw the band and was incredibly impressedone of the cleanest and swingiest of the big bands of the era... Always rated at the top of the list... You would hear more Ted Heath records than ours, Basie or Ellington...

Johnny Mathis:
He is a very kind man and genteel man... His music is quite different from the way he is as a person... His music is almost savage sometimes... His music is marvellous

Marlene Dietrich:
Hes a great man...

Tony Bennett:
Im very honored to work with him... Ted Heath has always upheld that good music wins out...

Personnel 1945-1967


Bobby Pratt;[30][31] Stan Reynolds; Ronnie Hughes; Kenny Baker;[32] Duncan Campbell; Alan Franks; Stan Roderick; Ron Simmonds;[33] Eddie Blair; Bert Ezzard; Bert Courtley; Dave Wilkins; Harry Letham; Leslie Hutchinson; Max Goldberg; Arthur Mouncey; Cliff Haines; Harry Hall; Maurice 'Mo' Miller; Albert Hall; Tony Fisher

Don Lusher;[34][35] Wally Smith; Chris Smith; Jimmy Coombes; Ric Kennedy; John Keating; Keith Christie; Johnny Edwards; Lad Busby; Jackie Armstrong;[36] Harry Roche; Joe Cordell; Woolf Phillips; Les Carew; Jack Bentley; Maurice Pratt; Bill Geldard; Ken Goldie; Ted Barker

Alto and Tenor Saxophone:
Les Gilbert; Tommy Whittle; Dave Shand; Roy Willox (also flute & clarinet); Ronnie Chamberlain (also soprano saxophone);[37] Henry McKenzie (also clarinet);[38][39] Danny Moss;[40] Reg Owen; Don Savage;Red Price; Ronnie Scott;[41] Bob Burns; Johnny Gray; Don Rendell; Norman Impey; Frank Reidy; Aubrey Frank;[42] Bob Efford [43]

Baritone Saxophone:
George Hunter; Ken Kiddier; Freddy Gardiner; Bob Burns

Frank Horrox; Stan Tracey (also vibes); Norman Stenfalt; Ralph Sharon; Derek Warne (also vibes); David Simpson; Ralph Dollimore; Alan Branscombe (also vibes)

Johnny Hawksworth; Charlie Short; Sammy Stokes; Jack Fallon;[44] Jack Seymour; Lennie Bush[45]

Jack Parnell;[46] Basil Kirchin;[47] Ronnie Verrell;[1] Bobby Orr; Kenny Clare


Paul Carpenter; Beryl Davis; Dennis Lotis;[48] Peter Lowe; Dickie Valentine; Lita Roza;[49][50] Bobbie Britton; Toni Eden; Lydia Macdonald; Kathy Lloyd; Rosemary Squires

Alfie Reece

Ivor Mairants;[51] Ike Isaacs; Dave Goldberg (guitarist)

Band Boys/Road Managers
Colin Hogg; Derek Boulton [52]


Leeds College of Music in Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom has a wide collection of Ted Heath recordings and memorabilia available for research.

Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, United Kingdom has established, in conjunction with the Heath family, "The Ted and Moira Heath Award" for promising jazz musicians.




Plots with a View (2002)

  • (performer: "Begin The Beguine", "Woodchopper's Ball", "In The Mood") ... aka Grabgeflüster (Germany: video title) ... aka Grabgeflüster Liebe versetzt Särge (Germany) ... aka Plotz with a View (UK) ... aka Undertaking Betty (US)

Entrapment (1999)

  • (performer: "I Want to Be Happy") ... aka Verlockende Falle (Germany)

It's a Wonderful World (1956)

  • (music: "When You Came Along", "Girls, Girls, Girls") (performer: "Hawaiian War Chant")


Jazz Boat (1960)

  • (as Ted Heath and His Music) .... Band Leader

The Small Back Room (1949) [aka Hour of Glory (US)]

  • (uncredited) .... Band Leader

Music department

Dance Hall (1950)

  • (music arranger) (uncredited)

London Town (1946) [aka My Heart Goes Crazy (US: cut version)]

  • (orchestra contractor)


Ready, Steady, Go!

  • Himself (1 episode, 1963) Episode #1.18 (1963) TV episode .... Himself

An Evening with Nat King Cole (1963)

  • (TV) .... Himself Musician

Thank Your Lucky Stars

  • Himself (1 episode, 1961) Episode #2.3 (1961) TV episode (as Ted Heath and his Music) .... Himself

This Is Your Life

  • Himself (1 episode, 1959) Ted Heath (1959) TV episode .... Himself

It's a Wonderful World (1956)

  • Himself

The Bob Hope Show

  • Himself Orchestra Leader (1 episode, 1956) Episode dated 7 February 1956 (1956) TV episode .... Himself Orchestra Leader

Dance Hall (1950)

  • (uncredited) .... Himself Orchestra Leader

Theatre Royal (1943)

  • Himself


Main article: Ted Heath discography


  1. 1.0 1.1 Peter Vacher, Obituary: Ronnie Verrell, The Guardian, 19 March 2002.
  2. 2.0 2.1 de beste bron van informatie over sing sing sing.. nfo.net.
  3. Joseph Murrells The Book of Golden Discs
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Ted Heath. Jazzprofessional.com (24 January 2000).
  5. Peter Vacher, Obituary: Don Lusher, The Guardian, 10 July 2006.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Moira Heath, I Haven't Said Thanks: The Story of Ted and Moira Heath ISBN 978-0-9534729-0-1
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Ted Heath "Listen to my Music: An Autobiography" London:Muller:1957
  8. de beste bron van informatie over sing sing sing.. nfo.net.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 Alan Dell Interviews on Ted Heath 21st Anniversary Album
  10. 78rpm and Vintage Music Researches and Discussions. Jabw.demon.co.uk (29 March 2004).
  11. Tutti Camarata, The Daily Telegraph, 20 April 2005.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund / Royal Variety Performance official website. EABF.
  13. Billboard magazine, 12 May 1956 Ted Heath Carnegie Hall review
  14. 50s & 60s Charts A History. Dave McAleer.
  15. Lesley Gourse "Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan"
  16. Ella Fitzgerald: The Chuck Webb Years and Beyond" p. 93
  17. George Shearing, Alyn Shipton "Lullaby of Birdland" p.87
  18. Steve Voce, Obituary: Kenny Graham People, The Independent, 27 February 1997.
  19. Kenny Graham. Jazzprofessional.com.
  20. Woolf Phillips, The Daily Telegraph, 8 August 2003.
  21. Voce, Steve (16 January 2003). "Bill Russo". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2010
  22. Spencer Leigh, (24 April 2003). "Johnny Douglas". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2010
  23. Tom Vallance, (11 January 2003). "Ron Goodwin". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2010
  24. Colin Larkin, "The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music"
  25. [1]
  26. 26.0 26.1 Nick Heath at the Internet Movie Database
  27. James Heath at the Internet Movie Database
  28. Steve Voce, OBITUARY: Alan Dell People, The Independent, 29 August 1995.
  29. Ted Heath and his Music. Vzone.virgin.net.
  30. Bobby Pratt. Vzone.virgin.net.
  31. Bobby Pratt. Jazzprofessional.com.
  32. Peter Vacher, Kenny Baker, The Guardian, 9 December 1999.
  33. Voce, Steve (31 October 2005). "Ron Simmonds". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2010
  34. Peter Vacher, Obituary: Don Lusher, The Guardian, 10 July 2006.
  35. Voce, Steve (7 July 2006). "Don Lusher". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2010
  36. Jackie Armstrong, The Daily Telegraph, 29 July 2005.
  37. Morgan, Alun (22 September 1999). "Ronnie-chamberlain" The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2010
  38. Vacher, Peter (17 October 2007). "Henry Mackenzie" The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2010
  39. Henry MacKenzie Obituaries, The Independent, 9 October 2007.
  40. Obituary: Danny Moss, The Daily Telegraph, 1 June 2008.
  41. Steve Voce, Obituary: Ronnie Scott People, The Independent, 27 December 1996.
  42. Val Wilmer, Obituary: Aubrey Frank People, The Independent, 29 June 1993.
  43. Bob Efford. Vzone.virgin.net.
  44. Peter Vacher, Obituary: Jack Fallon, The Guardian, 13 June 2006.
  45. Lennie Bush, The Daily Telegraph, 29 June 2004.
  46. Peter Vacher, Jack Parnell obituary | Music, The Guardian, 9 August 2010.
  47. Richard Williams, Obituary: Basil Kirchin, The Guardian, 12 August 2005.
  48. "Dennis Lotis". Retrieved 6 October 2010
  49. Dave Laing, Obituary: Lita Roza | Music, The Guardian, 18 August 2008.
  50. Lita Roza: Sultry interpreter of romantic ballads nevertheless best known for "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?" Obituaries, The Independent, 15 August 2008.
  51. Colin Cooper, Obituary: Ivor Mairants Obituaries, The Independent, 26 February 1998.
  52. Jazz Manager Derek Boulton Passes. All About Jazz. Allaboutjazz.com.
  53. Ted Heath at the Internet Movie Database


  • Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, & Brian Priestley Jazz: The Rough Guide 2nd edition. ISBN 1-85828-528-3
  • Moira Heath, I Haven't Said Thanks: The Story of Ted and Moira Heath ISBN 978-0-9534729-0-1
  • Colin Larkin The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music ISBN 0-85112-721-5
  • Music Master Albums Record Catalog ISBN 0-904520-65-X
  • Joseph Murrells The Book of Golden Discs ISBN 0-214-20032-9
  • The Ted Heath Music Appreciation Society of Great Britain
  • Tony Parker The Greatest Swing Band In The World Ted Heath ISBN 978-0-9521782-0-0
  • http://www.bigbandlibrary.com/tedheath.html
  • "Big Band Profiles: Ted Heath," Jazz Professional, jazzprofessional.com.
  • Leonard Feather, "Heath, Edward 'Ted,'" in The Encyclopedia of Jazz (New York City:

Horizon Press, 1955), p. 157.

  • "Ted Heath," The Big Bands Database Plus, nfo.net.
  • "Ted Heath," The Space Age Pop Music Page, spaceagepop.com.
  • Roger D. Kinkle, "Heath, Ted," in The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz

1900-1950: Volume 2 Biographies A Through K (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House Publishers, 1974), pp. 1077-1078.

  • http://www.ukapologetics.net/tango/thenigma.htm
  • http://www.wsbbs.co.uk/heath.html
  • English Jazz Musicians ISBN 978-1-157-55483-7
  • William Emmett Stodwell, Mark Baldin "The Big Band Reader" p. 135
  • Paul Henry "Saxophone"
  • William F. Lee "American Big Bands" (sic) p. 285
  • Colin Larkin, "The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music"
  • Chris Woodward "The London Palladium: The Story of the Theatre and its Stars" p. 176
  • Ella Fitzgerald: The Chuck Webb Years and Beyond" p. 93
  • Scott Yarrow "Swing"
  • Leo Walker "The Big Band Almanac" p. 174
  • Roy Carr "A Century of Jazz" p. 24
  • Billboard magazine, 12 May 1956 Ted Heath Carnegie Hall review
  • Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, Brian Priestley "The Rough Guide to Jazz"
  • John Robert Brown " A Concise History of Jazz" p. 90
  • Catherine Parsonage " The Evolution of Jazz in Britain 1880-1935" p. 196
  • John Shepherd "Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World"
  • Henry Martin, Keith Waters "Jazz: The First 100 Years
  • Gene Lees, Nat Hentoff "You Can't Steal a Gift: Dizzy, Clark, Milt and Nat"
  • Lesley Gourse "Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan"
  • George Shearing, Alyn Shipton "Lullaby of Birdland" p. 87
  • Max Harrison, Charles Fox, Eric Thacker "The Essential Jazz Records Ragtime to Swing" p. 215
  • Ted Heath "Listen to my Music: An Autobiography" London:Muller:1957
  • Peter Gammond "The Oxford Companion to Popular Music 1991"

External links

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