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Joe Baron’s Page
I started playing cornet in a brass band in the north of England when I was six years old and I played in brass bands till I was 17 years of age. I played every instrument in the brass band except the trombone.
When I was 17 years old, I really got hooked on the big bands of those early days - bands like Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ted Heath, Joe Loss, and many others. Harry James was my hero because trumpet was my first love and still remains so,
When I was 17 my father bought me my first trumpet, an old gold lacquered instrument with sticking valves and not much lacquer to be honest. Nevertheless, this is all he could afford and after a few days the valves were no longer sticking. I had ground them in with cigarette ash, something I did very often on different trumpets I bought over the years.
While I was still 17, I was extremely fortunate to find a place with a big band playing second trumpet, which I thought was absolutely brilliant. I was so much in love with the big bands.
The position was only temporary, since the guy I replaced was drafted into the army.
I stayed with the band until I was 18, when I was called up into the Royal Air Force, where I served in Germany for three years. The time in Germany wasn't wasted since I met many people who had the same interests as I had in big bands. During the Berlin airlift, I was stationed on an American air force camp. This was ideal at my time of life, because at that time I think the Americans led the world in big bands.
During my three years in the Royal Air Force, I still played trumpet as often as I could and played with many small bands - four and five piece - and found this stimulating because I could play as I wanted to. Playing in the big bands in a section, we had of course to read all the time. Not so in the small bands - in fact no music at all was used, so I quickly developed into a busker, which was to serve me well in later years. On returning to civilian life I quickly found another big band to play in and stayed with this band for a long while.
Sport was a passion in my life and I played rugby football for a long time. Unfortunately, I was very heavily tackled at one time and most of my teeth were loosened! This is really bad for a trumpet player. I developed ulcers on a lot of my teeth and my dentist was most emphatic that if I did not have my teeth removed, I was going to be very ill. The ulcers never healed, so out came my teeth. I was devastated and playing the trumpet was no longer possible.
Once I had collected by scattered wits and not having played trumpet for six months, my father God bless him bought me an alto sax. I practised sometimes as long as six hours a day and my lips were sore and bleeding but nevertheless the passion of music kept me going. I went to my local dance hall and met a friend who was just forming a band and he asked me if I was interested in playing with them. I explained I could no longer play the trumpet and I now played saxophone. He said this was not a problem as he was looking for sax players. I said it may not be a problem for him but it was a problem for me since I was only a learner. This he said did not matter, he needed someone to play and was having great difficulty in finding players. So I said OK.
We rehearsed every night and very often Saturday and Sunday afternoons, I was getting so much practice in and of course I could already read, so it was just a matter of learning the instrument. When we had a steady complement of musicians, I was probably holding my own in reading and playing. I was asked if I wished to stay with the band - "Yes", gleefully I said "I would love to stay!"
I stayed with the band for many years and eventually became their leader.
We were never out of work. The band was quite good and all the musicians were friends with each other, which is always good.
We stayed together until the Beatles and Rolling Stones came on the scene and completely put paid to the big bands. Who wants to pay 17 musicians, when only four people with large amplifiers and loud guitars could make such a big sound.
At this time I would be about 25 years old and had started to play in the brass bands again, I found I could still play trumpet reasonably well, although my lip soon got tired. This was of course due to lack of practice on the instrument. When playing in the big bands, I was a featured vocalist. I had played around with the idea now for two or three years, to do cabaret on a full-time basis, so for many years, I played all over Europe and the British Isles, playing trumpet, saxophone, and doing vocals. I had some success in this venture and at one time I was voted cabaret artist of the year 1968 - that's a long while ago!!
I did night clubs for many years, then I began to realise I was no longer a young man and carrying heavy equipment amplifiers and instruments music and suits was coming a bit too much. One night, I was playing at a hotel in Blackpool, Northern England and I was playing an organ that was on stage. The owner of the hotel was listening to me playing and asked if I could play for him the night after. I said sorry, I was fully booked on the cabaret circuit and didn't have a free date for a few months.
He booked the free date I had and on the night I played there I played the organ and sang. I did not play the trumpet or the saxophone, but the owner was pleased with my performance and asked if I would play again. I said yes I would, I had enjoyed it.
I honoured the bookings I still had on the cabaret circuit and then went to play at his hotel.
I stayed there for 12 years, playing five nights a week. I played my last gig there when I was 77 years old.
In January 2006, I broke my leg in two places and also broke my ankle. I have not played since then, and I now feel too old to carry on playing. The spirit is still willing but!!!!
I was happily married for 54 years but alas, I lost my wife in August 2006. Maybe this has some bearing on the fact, but I don't really want to play again professionally.
However, I make myself available to entertain people of my age, who live in sheltered accommodation, and can no longer get out to listen to live entertainment.
All or Nothing at All
All the Things You Are
And This is My Beloved
New York, New York
At My Time of Life
Once Upon a Song
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Cry Me a River
The Days of Wine and Roses
The Gentle Touch
The Miner’s Song
He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother
Till it’s Time for Me to Go
Some of Joe’s Recordings, which were made with his beloved Technics KN2000.
All the Songs were recorded ‘On-the-Fly’ and are in MP3 Format.
Single Left Click on the Number to Play a Song on Windows Media Player.
To Download a Song Right Click on the Number and choose ‘Save Target as...’
Contact Joe by email