Jazz band leader Terry Lightfoot dies

Terry Lightfoot Terry Lightfoot started playing the clarinet aged nine

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Jazz band leader Terry Lightfoot has died at the age of 77, after a battle with prostate cancer.

Lightfoot, who was born in Potters Bar but settled in Olney, Buckinghamshire, had been touring for most of the time from the 1950s up until 2012.

He had played alongside greats such as Louis Armstrong and Lonnie Donegan.

His death comes less than two weeks after that of trumpeter Kenny Ball, who started his career playing in the Terry Lightfoot's Jazzmen band.

Lightfoot taught himself to play the clarinet so he could join his school's jazz band in Enfield.

During the 1960s, Lightfoot made frequent television appearances on the Morecambe and Wise Show and his was the resident band on Des O'Connor's first TV series.

He formed Terry Lightfoot's Jazzmen in 1955 after finishing National Service with the RAF. The band released their first album in 1957, with a line-up that included drummer Ginger Baker, who went on to be a member of rock band Cream.

The band's first major concert appearance was at London's Royal Festival Hall in 1956. The same year he met Louis Armstrong for the first time and was presented to him as the youngest professional band leader in the UK.

Kenny Ball was on trumpet with the Lightfoot band until he left to form his own band in 1958.

Terry Lightfoot Terry Lightfoot's band included his daughter Melinda and two grandsons

After dropping out of music in the mid-60s, Lightfoot quickly returned to play with the Kenny Ball Band, touring the US, New Zealand and Fiji.

In 1968 he reformed his own band, featuring the late Ian Hunter-Randall on trumpet, an association which lasted almost 25 years.

Taking another sabbatical from touring, Lightfoot became pub landlord of the Three Horseshoes in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, in 1978, where he promoted jazz and presented musicians including Humphrey Lyttelton, Chris Barber, and George Melly.

After five years at the pub, he left to return to music full-time and developed the Rockin' in Rhythm show, which charted the history of jazz and played at theatres throughout Europe.

He celebrated 30 years as a bandleader in 1987 with the release of the album As Time Goes By.

Lightfoot took part in a nationwide tour as a member of the Kenny Baker/Don Lusher All Stars, which also included the bands of Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball.

He later fronted the Acker Bilk Paramount Jazz Band while Acker was recovering from throat cancer.

He continued to perform with his own band, which became something of a family affair when his daughter Melinda joined as singer, later being accompanied by Terry Lightfoot's grandsons, guitarist "Joe Miles" Needham and drummer "Ollie James" Needham.

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