When George and Maurice met Pink Floyd

Some time ago, I bumped into Col. Maurice Cooper on the top deck of a bus from Victoria station and he told be about a time in 1967 when he, Major George Whittingham, and 5 other members of the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army (ISB) had a surprising encounter with a rock band – a group who would go on to be one of the most iconic and one of the biggest rock bands of the 1970’s and 1980’s, Pink Floyd.

George picks up the story: “In the early sixties, to be appointed to The International Staff Band under the leadership of Senior Major Bernard Adams, was not so much a matter of autonomy, but rather autocracy. Membership was made up of senior Salvation Army Officers with a few lesser mortals holding the rank of captain; Ray Bowes, Maurice Cooper, Les Condon, George Whittingham, plus non-officers Terry Camsey, Mac Carter, and Ian Hankey.

In those days the band’s week-end visits to corps situated more than a hundred miles from London meant a steam train journey, travelling out on a Saturday morning and returning to I.H.Q. Monday morning and straight into work.

 A whole carriage was booked with the instruments going in the guard’s van. The five compartments being occupied according to rank, i.e. first compartment reserved for the Leader, Bandmaster, Deputy Bandmaster, Cy Brisley, Alf Andrews and Harold Orton – the seven mentioned above clambering into the fifth compartment, creating clamour in so doing.”

Then, as now, the ISB rehearse on a Wednesday evening, only these days this happens at Territorial rather than International Headquarters. Evidently, the gentlemen concerned cause a bit of a racket when boarding the train.

George continues: “It was of no surprise to hear the Bandmaster, at the end of the following Wednesday evening rehearsal, announce that the following members (being the above named seven!) to please remain as he wanted to speak to them.”

 To be honest, we expected the “riot act” to be read to us for our un-gentlemanly behaviour in many ways, which cannot be shared. Instead, the Bandmaster explained that he had received an un-official request for a group of Salvation Army musicians to visit a studio in Bond Street and provide music. We were to go in civvies and take our tunes books and a march book. We were not to discuss this with anyone.”

The studios were De Lane Lea studios (now relocated to Dean Street), an establishment which paid host to the likes of The Beatles, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Rolling Stones and Deep Purple over the years.

Syd Barrett, the songs writer, had wanted a Salvation Army band to play on the track. He told them he wanted them to simply “play whatever they want” regardless of the rest of the group. Pink Floyd’s manager Andrew King said that Barrett “wanted a massive Salvation Army freak-out”.

“We all arrived at the appointed time and walked into a relatively small studio, to be met by a gentleman who we later learned was the Manager. He then introduced us to four band members who, on first appearance looked as though they had just been thrown out of Great Peter Street Hostel. We then sat in a semi circle and asked to play something. We played a march. The four huddled together and then asked if we could play something else, so we played a hymn tune.

Again, the four had another group gathering with the manager who came and made an unusual request.”

Maurice takes up the story “They made the suggestion that we play for 3 minutes, in a similar way to how an orchestra tunes up before a concert. We played anything; high notes, low notes in any order and all in between! And we had to play it loud!”

As George concludes, “It sounded atrocious! And the faces of these four gentlemen broke into broad smiles. “That’s it”, they cried out, “That’s exactly what we want”.

We packed our instruments away, the manager approached us and expressed sincere thanks, handing each of us £2,

WE HAD BEEN WORKING WITH PINK FLOYD. I can’t remember any of us ever receiving any royalties!!!!!!!.”

The song they recorded was ‘Jugband Blues’, written by Syd Barrett for the album ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’, released in 1968 and his last before leaving Pink Floyd.

If you’d like to hear the track with George, Maurice and friends in action, you can do so here:

https://youtu.be/xIc2EgS9MNg

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Col. Maurice Cooper and Major George Wittingham outside Bromley Salvation Army hall. (April 2016)

© Richard Debonnaire and Bromley Salvation Army

First published on Bromley Salvation Army’s web site

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More photos from Bromley Trombone Workshop

I’m very pleased to be able to add a whole new batch of pictures to the gallery page. These were taken by Major John Murray, who is a member of the trombone section in Bromley band. His job is currently head of communications for the Salvation Army’s International Headquarters, and so he is a keen communicator, a lover of social media and of taking pictures. John is currently heavily involved in preparing for ‘Boundless 2015, the upcoming 150th anniversary celebrations for The Salvation Army, which is being held at the O2 Arena 1-5 July.

John, along with his wife Brenda and son Nathan will be returning to their native Canada in July (where they will be join their other 3 sons), which is bad for us, but good for them! They will be missed, and a lot less pictures of Bromley SA bands trombone section will be posted!

Anyway, if you scroll down the gallery page, you will find that I’ve inserted a second photo gallery on the page.

Enjoy!

Bromley Trombone Workshop 2015 – Review

I’ve finally had time to write up a report of the workshop and the concert that took place on Saturday March 28th! What a great day! Anyway, you can find the review from the main menu or you can click here. Hope you like it…

There has been, and still is, a great deal of interest in the workshop and the concert at Bromley Salvation Army, and people still stop me to say how much they enjoyed it. I had lots of great feedback, which is very gratifying and makes the whole thing worthwhile.

If you haven’t already seen them, there are some terrific pictures which you can view here and some videos which were filmed during the day of both the Black Dyke Trombone Quartet and Bones Apart sessions. These are well worth a watch.

Enjoy!

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Bones Apart and Black Dyke Trombone Quartet Videos – Bromley Trombone Day

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Bones Apart and Black Dyke Trombone Quartets (L-R: Helen Vollam, Adrian Hirst, Garry Reed, Jayne Murrill, Sarah Williams, Paul Woodward, Becky Smith, Brett Baker)

I’m sorry that I have not posted a review yet of the trombone day or the concert…been a bit busy visiting Venice over the weekend and working last week (as I am this week!). I hope to be able to do so in the next few days.

However, I did find time to upload some video of the Black Dyke Trombone Quartet and Bones Apart sessions, which can be viewed below, or on YouTube. The videos take a lot less effort to sort out, than sitting down to write so I decided I could make a start on those!

The videos have already seen a lot of traffic, but one of the Black Dyke Trombone videos has received over 3000 views!

Below are the videos uploaded so far. There are a few more which I hope to be able to upload once everyone is happy with them and correct permissions have been granted.

Enjoy!

R

Bones Apart

Black Dyke Trombone Quartet

It’s nearly here!!

It’s only few days now until Bromley Trombone Workshop opens it’s doors on Saturday 28th March at 9.30.

Everything is in place, we have delegates, we have guests, we have a band, we have a concert and we have tea and coffee (plus biscuits!). Man, oh man, do we know how to live!

So…we have a few places left for the workshop! Yep, I know! I mean seriously? With that line up? You’d think they’d all have gone! That’s just how it is sometimes – people are busy and all…

But the chores will wait until next week! If you play trombone come along; if you used to play trombone, dust it off and bring it along and get reacquainted with it; if you think you’d like to start playing and want to see what trombone people are all about, come along and check us out!

If you are interested please do let me know – preferably before Saturday! Likewise if you know anyone who might be interested in a fun day out with trombones – spread the word.

We have a great day planned, and of course we also have a great concert to follow the whole thing up with, where you will have the chance to hear some absolutely world class musicians playing live – in Bromley! And that doesn’t happen very often!

So why not come and join us, along with Brett, Paul, Garry & Adrian (Black Dyke Trombone Quartet) and Helen, Becky, Jayne & Lorna (Bones Apart) for a great day of music making, come and meet some new friends and just have a blast – literally and metaphorically!

A reminder of the details:

The day starts at 9.30 for a 10.00 start.

Cost for the day: £10.00 (£6 for students) including for evening festival

Don’t for get the evening Concert: 6.30pm – £5.00 admission

We look forward to welcoming you on Saturday!

As usual you can email to rich.debonnaire@me.com.

Cheers!

Bromley Trombone Workshop_Fotor_Collage

Two Weeks Today

Bromley Trombone 2012-16

I can’t really believe that two weeks today, the Bromley Trombone Workshop will be in full swing! I’ve arranged a couple of these before and this is the period I always find the most anxious! Have I thought of everything? Does everyone have what they need? Have I booked the venue? (I have – it’s my usual church!)

I also still need to find time to get some proper practicing done for my own playing – I wouldn’t want turn up and not have any lip, although mainly I’m thinking about a couple of tricky bits in the band accompaniment for the solo’s that Brett and Paul are playing! Yikes!

I just wanted to remind you that we still have some places available and although I have received a number confirmations for the workshop, others have expressed an interest to me, so I wanted to ask, that if you are planning to come would you please send me a confirmation email ASAP? You can reach me at rich.debonnaire@me.com.

It would be really helpful if you could also let me know age, ability (it doesn’t need to be scientific) and whether you read bass/treble clef or both? It will help us as we plan and prepare.

Also, don’t forget that we are presenting a festival of music at 6.30pm in the evening following the workshop, so if you have any friends or relations who might want to come along, let them know.

I’m really looking forward to the day and hope that you will be able to join us. If you have any questions about the day, or about Bromley itself regarding how to get there, where to park etc., then obviously check the information on the website first, but let me know if there is anything more specific, and I’l be happy to help out if there is anything I can do.

Cheers!

Bromley Trombone 2012-31

Trombone Vespers

With 20 days to go until Bromley Trombone Workshop kicks off, our thoughts are turning to music that the Trombone Choir will be playing on the day.

As previously, we will form a trombone choir on the day which will be led by our leaders for the day (Brett Baker, Paul Woodward Bones Apart), and will consist of workshop delegates, the idea being to work on music throughout the day, learning as we go and to perform it as part of the concert in the evening. I don’t know what our guests for the day have in mind for the trombone choir, but one piece I do know we will be looking at is Ray Steadman-Allen’s ‘Trombone Vespers‘ which we will play to the accompaniment of Bromley Temple SA band.

If you are not familiar with Ray Steadman-Allen, it’s worth googling him. RSA (as he’s affectionately known) was a Salvation Army Officer (minister) with a tremendous gift for music. He is responsible for some of the most innovative, interesting and exciting brass band music written, both within The Salvation Army and in the wider brass band world, as well as very many choral works. He was the sort of chap, the word ‘genius’ is attached to, although it would have been hard to find a more humble man.

So, the performance of Trombone Vespers is, in a small way, a tribute to this brilliant composer for brass – there is so much music to pick from, but RSA liked to write for the trombone and this is a great trombone feature.

In preparation for this performance, I thought it might be helpful to provide you (if you’re coming – I hope you are!) with the opportunity to view the parts. There are 4 trombone parts, and we have provided both the original Salvation Army copy, but also re-drafated copies in A4 size which are easier to read, and also in both Treble and Bass Clef’s. You can find these to download here! 

If you would like to find out a bit more about RSA, there is a fabulous short video on YouTube, published by The Salvation Army’s UK Video Production Unit, and which was filmed in early 2014 which is really worth a watch, and from it you will get a sense of the man.

Also, there was a lovely obituary published in The Daily Telegraph, which you can view via the link here: Ray Steadman-Allen – Obituary 

If you would like to get an idea of how the piece goes, there are a few versions on YouTube which you can check out.

© Richard Debonnaire