Thursday, June 11, 2015

James Last

James Last (1929-2015) - a great musician and human being
Many people grew up with the music of Elvis Presley, or the Beatles, or other artists if you were growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. But if you were in Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, the music of James Last literally made your heart and pulse beat faster. The world of music is saddened with the loss of one of their favorite musicians.
James Last (born Hans Last) was born in Bremen, Germany on April 17, 1929 and was the most popular musical arranger and a big band leader. His "happy music" made his numerous albums best-sellers in Germany and the United Kingdom. He began studying the piano at age 10, but his first music teacher felt he lacked any musical talent. Last started playing more actively with his second tutor and switched to the double bass as a teenager.  After the end of the war, he joined Hans G√ľnther Oesterreich's Radio Bremen Dance Orchestra. In 1948, he became the leader of the Last-Becker Ensemble, which performed for seven years. He was voted as the best bassist in the country in a German jazz poll for 1950, 1951 and 1952.

The cover of one of the 190 albums released by James Last
Last first released albums in the U.S. under the title “The American Patrol” on Warner Brothers around 1964. He also released a series of nine albums in a series called Classics Up To Date vols. 1–9 which served up arrangements of classical melodies with strings, rhythm and wordless chorus from the mid-1960s through the early 1980s. Last released an album, Non-Stop Dancing, in 1965, a recording of brief renditions of popular songs, all tied together by an insistent dance beat and crowd noises. It was a hit and helped make him a major European star. Over the next four decades, Last released over 190 records, including several more volumes of Non-Stop Dancing.  He had married his first wife, Waltraud, in 1955; they had two children, Ronald and Caterina. Waltraud died in 1997. Last divided his time between Florida and Hamburg with his second wife Christine. He gave much credit to Christine and son Ronald, for help with his music. James Last died on 9 June 2015 in Florida at the age of 86.

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