Tuesday, 3 May 2011
Web Page 934
Top Picture: Don Lang and his Frantic Five appearing on the 6.5 Special.
Bottom Picture: Southdown Bus Garage, Hilsea
To most of us the name Gordon Langhorn means absolutley nothing but mention the trombone playing group leader of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Don Lang, our minds rush back to programmes like the 6.5 Special.
Gordon Langhorn (Don Lang) was born in Halifax on 19th January 1925 and died in London on 3rd August 1992.
DON LANG was that rare species, a popular entertainer and household name during his heyday in the late 1950s who still retained the respect of his fellow jazz musicians and the critics alike. A natural performer, he could stir an audience to cheers with one of his 300-words-a-minute patter songs (remember The Auctioneer?) and the next instant pick up his beloved trombone and play a sublime jazz ballad in the style of his favourite artist, Bill Harris.
Don had the large physique even as a child to follow his father and also his grandfather into professional rugby football but preferred first the piano, then double bass, only progressing to trombone at 21 after hearing recordings of the American jazzman Jack Teagarden. An obvious natural, he was soon asked to play with the local dance bands while still working daytime as an electrician. But his first fully professional engagement, on the Isle of Man in 1947 and this really set the course for the rest of his life.
He spent engagements with several bands especially the Peter Rose and the Teddy Foster orchestras which led to a telephone call from Vic Lewis who was then putting together what he termed a 'progressive' big band to tour Europe and he wanted someone with a creative trombone style. As a featured soloist, he cut a series of fine solos on Vic Lewis recordings such as 'Sunday Girl' and 'The Man I Love'.
It was during the next four years when he was with the Ken Macintosh Orchestra that he began to sing regularly, initially as a gag with the in-house vocal quartet called the Macpies but, as his confidence grew, also as a solo and he often broadcast as a vocalist. It was with Ken Macintosh that he co-wrote and recorded the hit instrumental 'The Creep', which was covered no less than 17 times in the US alone, notably by Stan Kenton.
Encouraged by his success and tired of spending his life 'up and down the A5', Don decided to form his own group and develop his style. After producing his own demonstration record in his own style he was immediately signed up by HMV in 1955 and the resulting record, 'Cloudburst', was an instant success. Now renamed Don Lang, this name was chosen on the premiss that 'the shorter the name, the bigger the billing', he was chosen with his band the Frantic Five to be one of the cornerstones of the new BBC informal 'teenage' show The Six Five Special in 1959. As most of us will remember he also sang the theme song to the show, ( Over the points, over the points, Over the points etc)
After signing for the BBC Don appeared for two years as resident accompanist on the show and he also performed in his own right every week on live television. His repotoire included such hits as 'Six Five Hand Jive', 'Red Planet Rock' and 'I Want You To Be My Baby'.
Whilst enjoying his popularity and a firm believer in giving the public what it wanted, on the demise of the Six Five Special he retained his firm foothold in the jazz and big-band fields, but continued to make successful records like 'The Witchdoctor'. As a music reading musician the popularity of the Merseybeat did not affect him as badly as many of the other rock-and- rollers: indeed it helped him to survive, in fact when he was working as a session man on the recording on the Beatles ‘White Album’ John Lennon actively sought him out to say hello.
Working in cabaret with his own band and as a featured soloist with larger bands he worked throughout the Seventies and early Eighties, but the last few years saw him in virtual retirement, apart from the occasional rock-and-roll revival show and some rehearsal band workouts just to keep his lip and trombone in good shape.
He was a strong but gentle man, who could keep people amused for hours over a long lunch, he retained the affection and respect of both the public and the many musicians in all spheres who knew him. Typically his long fight with cancer was born bravely and with humour. He died in London on 3rd August 1992.
Stay in touch,
Hi Peter, just read your site. Many thanks for a very interesting morning - I have spent a lot of time reminiscing! St Colmans Church - my next door neighbour is very involved there, and they have been fundraising for a very long time for a new stained glass window, which has now been installed.
Cosham Park House was for further education and I attended there for a calligraphy course, it is now a Doctors surgery.
I also regularly went to the Savoy on Friday's Big Band nights.
I moved into Kinross Crescent in 1956 I think we were the second people to buy it, and I have at the back of my mind that it was one of the show houses, the block of 3 numbers 1,3, & 5.
My son Gordon went to a Nursery School in Court Lane, just opposite the Manor House, and another pupil was the son of Drs Stock and Lunt who lived in Magdala Road. They were our Doctors, and they sold their practice just over 30 years ago to Dr Allcock, who is still our Doctor and has his own Health Practice in Cosham, where his 2 daughters are also dentists.
My husband says Bond made the three wheeler cars featured last week.
News and Views:
What a shame to here of the death of ‘Our ‘enry’.
Sales of specially-designed Keith Richards T-shirts have raised $138,000 for victims of earthquake-and-tsunami ravaged Japan, according to his web site.
On this day 1st May 1960-1965.
On 01/03/1960 the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was not listed and the box office smash was Some Like It Hot. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was First plain paper photocopier introduced.
On 01/03/1961 the number one single was Sailor - Petula Clark. The top rated TV show was The Army Game (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth 13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada).
On 01/03/1962 the number one single was Rock-a-Hula Baby/Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was 93 die in New York plane crash.
On 01/03/1963 the number one single was The Wayward Wind - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 01/03/1964 the number one single was Anyone Who Had a Heart -Cilla Black and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 01/03/1965 the number one single was I'll Never Find Another You - Seekers and the number one album was Beatles For Sale - The Beatles.
The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.