From Christine, daughter of ROY BASSETT Trombone NVO / NDO (1952- 65) (Died 1999 )
There’s something about the sound of a well-played trombone that really tugs at the heartstrings – and my dad had that ability.
At the age of only 21, he was touring with Vic Lewis - (I’ve seen the proof in a 1948 black and white movie!), and then with Geraldo, followed by a move to Blackpool, where he played nightly at the Tower Ballroom.
Like others in the NDO, he was attracted by the opportunity to do a proper “day job” with the security offered by the BBC and the chance to work with similarly talented and professional musicians.
He joined the NVO in 1952 and subsequently he and his fellow trombonists, Frank Tebb and Frank Dixon, made the regular trek from Blackpool to Manchester and back most days.
I still remember Frank Dixon’s little yellow Isetta bubble car (which much later inspired me to buy my own when I was old enough) – and my dad would ride his beloved Vincent motorbike on the pre-motorway roads in all weathers.
Fortunately, the instruments were all kept safely in Manchester and didn’t have to be transported around by their owners!
In the 1950’s and early ‘60’s, the band was hardly off the air. Once the NDO became really popular and migrated to the TV with “Make Way for Music”, I would be allowed to stay up late to watch the programmes, on the edge of my seat, waiting to spot my dad.
Living in Blackpool was occasionally convenient for dad. In 1955 HM The Queen came to Blackpool for the first non London Royal Variety Performance (there were two that year) and the NVO was accompanying Eddie Fisher that night. Later, the BBC took advantage of the Blackpool summer seasons to sign up the stars of the many seaside shows to appear in “Blackpool Night”, which gave the NDO a regular weekly outing to the coast.
Jack Watson hosted the programmes (“Come where the stars are always bright. Be gone dull care, it’s Blackpool Night!”) which were recorded in the afternoons so that the guests could be back on stage in the evening.
In the school summer holidays I loved to go along to the recordings and add a few more names to my autograph book, including Cliff Richard, who was doing a summer season with The Shadows and clearly needed the extra money !
Freddie Hefferan (saxophone) would often bring his wife and daughter, Margaret and Diane, over from Manchester on those days.
My mum and I used to look forward to our regular get - togethers while the men were working.
I remember dad returning from the 1963 “Here We Go with the NDO” recording with the Beatles, armed with their autographs for me. I didn’t have the foresight which might have made me a wealthy woman – and I gave the autographs to a Beatles-mad school friend. I wonder what she did with them?
When he was not in Manchester, dad could often be found in full possession of our dining table, surrounded by reams of manuscript paper and writing with his favourite black Parker fountain pen, as he produced arrangements for all the band.
It would involve hours of work, which would fascinate me - and which also meant that mum and I had to be very careful not to distract him.
He was very meticulous – and those were the days before Tippex!
The NDO was a real mix of characters and personalities but they all seemed to share a special sense of humour, which was evident both on and off the stage.
Dad moved on from the band in 1965, moving us down to London when he became Orchestral Manager of the BBC Radio Orchestra until his retirement.
Now it was his turn to find deps, fix schedules, book studios, etc. etc. - but those early NDO days remained a big part of my life as well as his.
(Roy Bassett is in the You Tube video clip – the trombonist in shirt sleeves just to the left of Alyn Ainsworth.)
I came to Manchester from London in 1956, at the request of Alyn Ainsworth, having worked at Chappells Music publishers for many years.I gave myself 6 months to see if I liked the NDO, and enjoyed it so much I stayed for 25 !In all the years I arranged for them, never did I write anything they couldn’t play at sight.The warmth of their sound made the simplest arrangements very effective, and it was a privilege to work with them.Great musicians, and although they on occasions mocked my London accent, always the friendliest of men.
I miss them. (Some of Pat’s wonderful arrangements can be found on Diamonds, and most of the other CD IR)