Wednesday, 9 June 2010
"Don't need Manhattan. Just give me Leicester Square. 'Cos I know that the rock 'n' roll is universal, everywhere ..." Ah rock 'n' roll as a universal language. As the wonderful London Rock shows Tony Crombie was quick off the mark to realise just that. Now we all know the British rock 'n' story about the kids graduating via skiffle and the Two I's. But Tony Crombie, who arguably with his Rockets released the first British rock record, is something else altogether. Born in Bishopsgate, he started playing drums in the London jazz clubs as a kid in WW2. Still in the '40s he played with Duke Ellington, was involved with starting the legendary London jazz haunt Club Eleven, went on to play with Ronnie Scott and Johnny Dankworth among others. In the '50s he started his own jazz orchestra, played regularly at places like The Flamingo, recorded with Annie Ross, before veering off at a tangent and starting a band called The Rockets in response to Bill Haley & The Comets' success. Among the participants in this project at various times would be Tubby Hayes, and it's no surprise Crombie soon returned to jazz, playing with the likes of Stan Tracey, had his number So Near So Far adapted by Miles Davis, and played with organist Alan Haven on a TV special of Beatles adaptations. He also did some great soundtrack work, including the theme for the TV series The Man From Interpol.