Diamond entertainer still blowing strong!

Conducting duties: Big band specialist Terry Reaney
Conducting duties: Big band specialist Terry Reaney
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For musician Terry Reaney the big band sound with never die.

This year, trumpeter and band leader Terry celebrates 60 years in the big band business.

The 77-year-old, of Rowsley Road, St Annes, has made a career out of playing the sort of music that got millions off their feet and on to the dancefloor during the 40s and 50s.

And now he plans a gala concert to celebrate the diamond anniversary of his first paying gig as a young trumpeter in his native Sheffield.

During his time, Terry has played alongside the legendary big band names, including a two-decade stint with the Syd Lawrence orchestra.

He has also backed legendary crooners such as Vic Damone and Guy Mitchell and even accompanied diva Shirley Bassey.

One memorable fortnight in the 60s saw Terry’s band playing with Pretty Woman hitmaker Roy Orbison.

And, for some of his long career, Terry juggled the demands of being a daytime music teacher with playing one night stands as far away as Devon.

Even in retirement, Terry is playing six nights a week and, on October 10, a show by his Bluebird Big Band will mark his diamond anniversary.

The concert at Blackpool Sixth Form College will see Terry and his 18-piece band, whose youngest member is just 14 and was born just about when Terry gave up full-time UK touring, perform some of the classics of the swing era.

For Terry, it is a music which is timeless.

He said: “My favourite piece to play is You Made Me Love You, but I never get tired of the songs I have been playing for 60 years.”

Terry began his musical career playing with the Salvation Army junior band in Sheffield and his school orchestra, where he switched from cornet to trumpet.

On the advice of a fellow musician, Terry switched to playing a “jazzier” style of music and was soon playing at Sheffield City Hall wityh the Bernard Taylor Band.

At that time, millions of people in the UK went out dancing two or three times a week and there was plenty of work available for a talented musician.

Soon Terry found himself on the road with the Ken McIntosh band and promoted to featured singer.

“This was before the advent of pop groups like The Beatles,” said Terry.

“We were busy all the time and used to perform all the hits of the day. At that time Bill Haley was only just beginning to make his mark.”

The next few years saw Terry playing with the Charlie Barlow Orchestra, including a long-running residency at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom and the David Ede orchestra. Ede tragically died in a sailing accident in Blackpool during Terry’s time with the orchestra.

Later, leading his own band, Terry undertook long tours of Mecca ballrooms throughout the country and five seasons entertaining holidaymakers at Pontins in Blackpool.

By the dawn of the 80s, interest in the big band era looked to have run its course.

Even the nostalgia circuit couldn’t provide enough work for talented musicians.

Luckily for Terry there was regular session work to fall back on, including a stint with the BBC orchestra in Manchester and a long-running gig with the famous Syd Lawrence Orchestra.

But by 2002, the constant travelling to dates all over the country was beginning to take its toll and Terry decided to concentrate on dates nearer his adopted home in St Annes.

He said: “It was great working with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra.

“We were still attracting big crowds all over the country but the travelling became too much.

“The musicians used to drive themselves to shows, which were usually just one nighters. I was working as a music teacher during the day and driving to Devon and back at night and it just became too much.

“I had a good time with Syd Lawrence.When he began to slow down, he chose me as the one to take over all his trumpet solos, which was a great honour.”

Since then, Terry has divided his time between guesting with touring bands and running his own outfit.

The Bluebird Big Band was set up 15 years ago as the Blackpool and Fylde Big Band. The intention was to train young musicians and teach them how to play the big band sound.

The musicians were students on a night school course at the college aimed at training the next generation of players.

Following the end of the course, the band renamed itself after choosing St Annes’ Bluebird Studios as a rehearsal space.

“I’m still playing and enjoying every minute of it,” said great-grandfather Terry.

“For me, this sort of music is classic and will always be there. It’s all about the songs and tunes and they will never go away. People like Amy Winehouse have led to an increased interest in this kind of music and I intend to keep playing it for as long as I can.”

Tickets for the October 10 show at the Sixth Form College are £7 and are available on the door