Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tommy Burton


I found this LP on the obscure Unit label at a car boot sale some time ago. I thought I had uploaded some tracks from it but looking through the archives I see that I haven't. Making ammends now.

"Tommy Burton was first and foremost an entertainer. His hero was Thomas “Fats” Waller, and he was best known for his remarkably accurate recreation of Waller’s vocal style and his command of stride piano. Burton was a popular performer at traditional jazz gatherings up and down the United Kingdom, where his ebullient presence was always a tonic.

He was born Thomas William Burton in Bilston, near Wolverhampton, on 10 January, 1935, and began to learn piano at the age of eight, then added clarinet and saxophone in his teens (he also played guitar). He played his first gigs on clarinet with band leader Pete Young in 1950, then became the pianist with Johnny Fenton and The Fentones until he was called up for national service in 1953.

He served in the RAF until 1958, and was active in leading several service bands. He also made his first radio broadcast during that period. It would be the first of many, and he was also featured in an extended engagement on BBC television’s Pebble Mill At One.

On leaving the RAF, he formed the wonderfully named Thunderfoot Burton’s Celestial Three in Walsall, and hopped on the rumbling rock and roll bandwagon for a time with his own group, The Ravemen, in which he sang and played guitar. He formed another band, the Tommy Burton Combo, in the 1960s, this time playing tenor and soprano saxophones. His best known group, however, was his Sporting House Quartet, which featured the Waller-inspired repertoire most associated with him.

He formed the band at the end of the 1960s, and carried it on into the 1990s. It provided an excellent setting for his stylish piano playing, his quirky vocals, and his often risque humour. He also played solo piano gigs, and performed in a duo with guitarist and banjo player Spats Langham for a time in the mid-90s. He visited New Orleans as a performer on several occasions from the late 1980s onward, and performed both as a solo pianist and with the local musicians there.

He ran a pub in Wolverhampton for six years from 1972-78. He suffered a stroke in 1999, but had returned to playing, and performed at the Bude Jazz Festival shortly before his death."


Tommy Burton - When The Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabam

Tommy Burton - Dapper Dan ( From Dear Old Dixie Land )

Tommy Burton - Everything Is Peaches Down In Georgia

Tommy Burton - Somebody Else Not Me

4 comments:

RG Paddler said...

My mom and dad took me to see Tommy Burton when I was about 16 - I never forgot it - whole pub was singing along and laughing at his blue jokes.I've now been a full time piano player in the lake district for 6 years so I have him to thank for his inspiration! Thank you so much! - Richard Gray (originally Pelsall - now Lakes)

Anonymous said...

Michael says - Thanks Richard- glad to bring back some happy memories!

Gott said...

Tommy used to be friends with my dad and the guys used to come to our house when we were kids (around 20 years ago). We still have some vhs recordings of everyone singing along and laughing to his jokes.

I used to love it when they played the jungle book song for me and my sister.

I ran into Richard his bass player at Stoke train station about ten years ago and he still remembered me, we sat and had a coffee and caught up.

Such good memories!

Anonymous said...

where can i find some of tommys cds -vhs taps or dvd if he made anym