"Listen To My Music" - The Music of Ted Heath"

 The material herein is by courtesy of Mr. Doug Newlin (newlin@verinet.com) and
The Ted Heath Music Appreciation Society (of Great Britain.)

The Ted Heath Band, although less well-known in the U.S., was probably the first "World Music" band. His music style has been characterized as a blend of Stan Kenton, Glenn Miller and Count Basie styles with just a small bit of British "hotel orchestra" thrown in to make the sound very smooth, very big and very impressive. Band leaders and music critics in the U.S. dubbed Heath's band as extremely precise, polished and very professional. Even the great Count Basie said Heath's band "scared him to death" with its quality, precision and ability to swing.
From its inception in 1945, the band show-cased the best musicians in Britain and Scotland. Heath sought out the best players he could find and made sure the band always presented a superior professional appearance and flawless musicianship. It was said that Heath had his band members polish their horns before each performance!
For more than 25 years, the TH Band retained its personnel nearly intact. The band held a reunion in 1966 to mark its 21st anniversary. At that time, many of the original band members were still playing gigs with the band. TH usually played with 4-5 trumpets, 4-5 trombones, 5 reeds, drums, bass and piano. He occasionally augmented the group with guitar, vibes and tuba.
During the band's career they recorded over 100 Decca (and London) label 45rpm records and LP albums (a few of which have been re-issued or compiled as CDs) covering more than 800 different song titles, nearly all of which were uniquely arranged for the prodigious talents of this band. Heath never played "stock" arrangements.

The Ted Heath Band played its Farewell Concert on Dec. 4, 2000 at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Many of the members of the band at this final concert were original members - Jackie Armstrong, Jack Parnell, Duncan Campbell, Ronnie Hughes, Roy Willox, Tommy Whittle, Don Lusher and singer Denis Lotis.

Biographical Information - Edward "Ted" Heath Born: Mar. 30, 1902 in Wandsworth (southwest section of London) Married: Audrey Keymer (died suddenly in 1932); then Moira Tracey (second wife) married Dec. 16, 1933. Moira Heath died in May 1999. Died: Virginia Water, Egham UK Nov. 18, 1969.
Musical History
Ted's father taught him tenor horn at six years old and at eight he was playing in local brass band contests. At 14 he switched to trombone. In 1919, Ted's father fell ill and Ted had to play in street bands (the British call it "busking") for money to support the family.
In early 1920's, he rashly accepted a job playing with a dance band (Jack Hylton's) at the Queen's Hall Roof Gardens (a very popular night spot in London) and was told after 4 days to go home and practice some more!
First Jobs
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 Ted all about Jazz and Swing. Ted had to pay his own way back from Austria when the band ran out of money.
He next played with the Metro-Gnomes, a small band fronted by Ennis Parkes, who later became Mrs. Jack Hylton. In late 1920, he again joined the Jack Hylton theater band.
From 1925 to 1926 Ted played in the Kit Cat Club's band led by American Al Starita. There he heard Bunny Berrigan, the Dorseys and Paul Whiteman when they toured Europe.
In 1928, he joined Bert Ambrose's orchestra at the Mayfaire 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 Ted how to be a band leader. It was during this time that Ted became a master of his instrument and swing music.
In September, 1939 the war caused an immediate disbandment of the Sydney Lipton Band which was on tour in Scotland at the time. Ted, Moira and children made their way back to London. In late 1939, Ted joined Maurice Winnick's Dorchester Hotel band.  During the late 30's and early 40's, Ted played as a sideman on several Benny Carter albums.
Getting A Band Together
In 1940, TH joined Geraldo's (Gerald Bright's) orchestra and played hundreds of concerts and broadcasts during the war. 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. TH had composed two songs ("Gonna Love That Guy" and "That Lovely Weekend") with his wife Moira (she wrote the lyrics). Ted suggested "That Lovely Weekend" to Geraldo. It was orchestrated with Dorothy Carless on vocal and was an immediate hit. The royalties from these two songs allowed TH to start his own band.
In 1944, Douglas Lawrence was Dance Music Organizer for the BBC's Variety Department. Ted talked him into supporting a new band with a broadcasting contract. Laurence was skeptical as Ted wanted a much larger band than anyone had seen
The Ted Heath Band was first heard on a BBC broadcast in 1944. The band was organized originally as a British "All Star Band" playing only radio dates. Ted's theme song was "Listen To My Music."

Also in 1944 TH had his own regular radio show. Sometime during this period, Ted heard the great Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band and was completely taken with the Glenn Miller "sound."  In 1945, the BBC decreed that only permanent, touring bands could appear on radio. So, the permanent TH Band was officially formed on D-Day, 1945.

In late 1945, American bandleader Tootie Camarata (trumpet) came to UK as musical director for the film "London Town" and commissioned Heath to provide the music for the film. The money from this gig allowed the band to stay alive. The film was
a flop.
Next, Ted arranged a stint at the Winter Gardens at Blackpool (1946), a Scandinavian Tour, a fortnight at the London Casino with Lena Horne, and backing Ella Fitzgerald at the London Palladium.
Palladium Concerts and an American Tour The  band played 109 alternating "Sunday Swing Sessions" at the London Palladium which lasted until August 1955. By the end of 1947 there had been 30 such concerts. TH's first Royal Command Performance was in Oct. 1948 and the band played three Royal Variety Performances in 1948, 1949 and 1951.
Heath's first American Tour (April 1956) was a reciprocal agreement between TH and Stan Kenton who would tour Britain at the same time TH toured the U.S. The tour occurred with the help of the British Musicians Union, Sir Edward Lewis of Decca Records and Stan Kenton. It was part of a "package' which included Nat King Cole, June Christy and the Four Freshmen and consisted of 43 concerts in 30 cities (primarily the southern states) in 31 days (7,000 miles) climaxing in a Carnegie Hall Concert on May 1, 1956. At this performance, the band's instrument truck was delayed by bad weather. The instruments finally arrived just minutes before the curtain raised. The band had no time to warm up or rehearse. They went on stage "cold." 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 Cole was attacked on stage in Birmingham, Alabama by a group of white segregationists who jumped up out of the audience and hit him in the mouth. Because of this incident, TH nearly cancelled the rest of the tour.

The Band Today

Up until Dec. 4, 2000, The Ted Heath Band was STILL PLAYING limited gigs in and around London with many of the original band members. This band was led by long-time trombone player Don Lusher (who also has a band of his own). However, due to the advancing age of its members and the inability of finding musicians who were capable of playing this
demanding book, the Heath family decided to disband the group.

TH fans are still "Listening To His Music" via a vibrant, active and growing fan club - The Ted Heath Music Appreciation Society - in London. There are more than 1400 members of this organization from all over the world. Contact Pete Jones at

              The Ted Heath Music Appreciation Society
                27 Bottesford Close,
                Emerson Valley
                Milton Keynes, Bucks MK4 2AF

Ted Heath Band Personnel ... This list includes most of those who played with TH for any time during the years 1945 through 1967:

        Bobbie Pratt            Stan Roderick
        Duncan Campbell         Joe Hunter
        Stan Reynolds           Eddie Blair
        Ronnie Hughes           Bert Ezzard
        Kenny Baker             Dave Wilkins
        Don Lusher              Keith Christie          Bill Geldard
        Wally Smith             Johnny Edwards          Harry Roche
        Jimmy Coombes           Lad Busby               Ken Goldie
        Ric Kennedy             J. Armstrong
        Johnny Keating  (arranger)
Alto Sax:
        Les Gilbert                     Bob Efford
        Roy Willox (Flute & Clarinet)
        Tommy Whittle                   Ronnie Chamberlain (& Soprano)
        Dave Shand
Tenor Sax
        Henry McKenzie  (& Clarinet)    Ronnie Scott
        Danny Moss                      Bob Burns
        Reg Owen                        Johnny Gray
        Red Price                       Don Rendell

Baritone Sax:
        George Hunter   Ken Kiddier      Ronnie Ross
        Frank Horrox      Ralph Dollimore  Stan Tracey
        Norman Stenphalt  Ralph Sharon     Dave Simpson
        Johnny Hawksworth    Charlie Short
        Sammy Stokes         Jack Fallon
        Ronnie Verrell   Jack Parnell   Basil Kirchin
        Ernie Shear   Ivar Mairants   Dave Goldberg  Pete Chilvers

        Paul Carpenter (40's)
        Beryl Davis
        Lita Roza
        Dennis Lotis (S. African)
        Peter Lowe (D. Lottis' brother)
        Dickie Valentine (nee Bryce)  from 1949-54
        Bobbie Britton
        Toni Eden (1956)
        Rosemary Squires    (sang with, but declined to join the band;
               Heath called her his "greatest find")
        Kathie Loydd
        Alan Branscombe

Tuba: (on later albums)
        Alfie Reece