By the age of 15, Chris Barber owned about 70 jazz and blues 78s, a serious habit fed at Dobells record shop in London, where he also founded his first New Orleans-style band in 1948.
Jazz Me Blues: The Autobiography Of Chris Barber
How one man and his trombone started a musical revolution.
The jazz pioneer’s life story is enviably full of epochal moments: introducing skiffle to the masses and making a star of Lonnie Donegan; bringing both Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Muddy Waters to the UK for the first time (thanks to his efforts to thwart the union ban on American musicians playing in England); co-founding The Marquee club and Reading festival, to name a few.
Although his narrative has a tendency to dryness, it’s juiced up with some well-observed foibles of the blues gods, such as Howlin’ Wolf reciting grace before dinner and Sonny Boy Williamson’s breakfast order of four quadruple whiskies. Without Chris Barber, the saints would be marching to a decidedly different beat.