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From: "Peter_McCrae" <>
Subject: ARMSTRONG; George-[Jackie Armstrong]-16/7/2005-UK
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 16:18:22 +0100
The Daily Telegraph & the telegraph.co.uk
Jackie Armstrong, who died on July 16 aged 85, rose from boy musician with a
northern colliery band to become a brilliant trombonist with the Ted Heath
Band in the 1950s.
As a featured soloist, his recording of The Touch of Your Lips, done in one
take in the days when editing was well nigh impossible, is highly regarded
to this day, as is his recording of Sophisticated Lady, originally arranged
for Dennis Brain's French Horn.
George Armstrong was born on April 13 1920 at Consett, Co Durham, the home
of Easington Colliery, whose band he joined at the age of 12, having played
trombone for only two years.
On leaving school at 14 he had difficulty finding a job since he was 5ft 1in
tall, but eventually he was put on to sorting coal on a conveyor belt. He
stuck that for four weeks before switching to the carpentry department as a
It was to be his last "day job", as his playing with the colliery band was
beginning to earn him a reputation. Within a year he was invited to join
Archie's Juvenile Band, well-known on the variety circuit. After becoming a
professional musician aged 15, Armstrong played just about every Moss Empire
in the country over the next two years. Alongside him in the band was
15-year-old Wally Stott, a future sideman of the Geraldo Orchestra who
became a greatly admired arranger.
With war imminent, Archie's Juvenile Band folded, and Armstrong was invited
by Alec Halls, a trombone-playing comedian on the boards, to join him as his
stooge. This was followed by a stint in a Dixieland band at Dundee for £2 a
week prior to the arrival of his call-up papers.
Although listed as a musician in his Royal Artillery pay book, Armstrong
spent the duration of the Second World War as a driver, sitting on, and
propped up by, cushions, so he could reach the pedals. After demob it took
him two years to regain his previous form before joining Lou Preager at
Hammersmith Palais; it was here that he was heard by Ted Heath, whose band
played there on Monday evenings.
Invited to replace Laddy Busby, who was leaving, and join Harry Roche, Jack
Bentley and Jimmy Coombes in the trombone section, Armstrong almost
declined, being very happy with the £12 a week he was earning with Preager;
but his decision to join what would soon be ranked as the top band in the
country was one he would never regret.
As well as being a featured soloist, he was also quite happy to call on his
brief experience as a comedian's stooge and play the fool on stage; he was
prepared to do anything to get a laugh, including playing the violin solo A
Thousand Violins, complete with cadenza, on the trombone.
After six years on the road with Heath, Armstrong decided that he had had
enough of touring and joined Woolf Phillips and the Skyrockets, resident at
the London Palladium. From there he joined Cyril Stapleton and the newly
formed BBC Show Band, where he remained until it was disbanded in 1957.
As one of the country's top trombone players, he was with Jack Parnell at
ATV, finding himself much in demand in the studios; and when the Heath Band
was reformed under the leadership of Don Lusher, he was back in the band
that had made his name until that, too, folded in December 2000.
Jackie Armstrong married, in 1951, Margaret Taylor, the head Tiller Girl at
the Blackpool Opera House. She predeceased him, and he is survived by their
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.
|ARMSTRONG; George-[Jackie Armstrong]-16/7/2005-UK by "Peter_McCrae" <>|