Campbell Burnap
(born Derby, September 1939 died 30th May 2008)

30.05.08 - I've just received this shock news from John Petters. - "I heard from Mike Pointon this morning of the unexpected and tragic death of Campbell Burnap, following a short illness. I had a long association with Campbell, which more or less started with the Legends of American Dixieland Tour in 1989, with Wild Bill Davison and Art Hodes. Campbell was featured on most of the dates on what became the last tour both the American octogenarians. He was a fine jazz singer with a magnificent voice and in my view he could have had a career as a singer had he been so inclined. As well as his trombone playing career in such top UK bands as Terry Lightfoot’s and Acker Bilk’s, Campbell’s warm, rich voice, combined with his passion and knowledge for swinging jazz , made him a natural choice for presenting informed and intelligent jazz shows on BBC Radio. The birth of Jazz FM in the 80s, promised much and delivered little. The station did offer a further glimpse at the skills of this fine broadcaster with his excellent show, ‘Mainstem’, which not only played great recordings from the past, but gave exposure to new CDs, which most other stations ignored. British traditional jazz has lost many legendary figures during the past year, George Melly, Dick Charlesworth, Humph and today Campbell. Somewhere in heaven there must be a hell of a jam session going on".   -  

I first had contact with Campbell when he rang to ask for a list of NW gigs to bring a balance to his programme after we lost "Tony's Tradtime" on JazzFM North. I had been in occasional contact ever since and we were lucky to meet up with him, first at  Maghull, and then at Rawtenstall's Rhythm Station where we sat with John & Jasmine Lawrence who brought Campbell over from Liverpool. It was to be John's funeral when we were to meet again for the final time. In all that time he never forgot Barbara's name and always asked about her. We are deeply saddened to hear this news about a gentleman and a musician who still had a lot to give. - Fred Burnett


Les Bull writes ..

Musicians and fans in all parts of the Jazz World will be shocked and distressed to hear of the tragically premature death of Campbell Burnap on the 30th May. 

So many people must have warm personal memories of this wonderful man. Mine go back to our first meetings in the 1960's when, as a skinny young trombone player with an engaging antipodean accent (fresh from living and working in New Zealand and Australia) he first emerged as Terry Lightfoot's new trombone player. Our paths were to cross uncannily often in the ensuing years, and we shared many an after-hours beer whenever he appeared anywhere north of Manchester with the Lightfoot band, or later with Acker. Campbell often stayed with us, and it was always a total pleasure to have him as a guest. In recent years, he honoured our modest semi-pro band with some treasured and fondly remembered 'guest star' appearances.

One of the happiest jazz memories of my life was being at his wedding celebrations in London a few years ago, after his marriage to the lovely Jenny. The musicians who jammed with him that night made up a veritable 'who's who' of British Jazz. I played clever and left my horn in its case. (If you have any sense, you remain firmly in the audience when faced with the likes of Guy Barker and Alan Barnes, and Campbell's many other illustrious friends).

Campbell had a consuming passion for cricket, having been an M. C. C. member for many years. He was as devoted to his beloved Derbyshire as I was to Lancashire, and we always loved hamming up our supposedly bitter inter-county rivalry. I was lucky enough to play some gigs alongside him with the John Barnes Outswingers at Lord's, where Campbell was the omnipresent trombone player on big match occasions. Our rival County ties were always worn, and Campbell even managed to smuggle me into the impenetrable inner sanctum of the Long Room. He could charm his way past even the strictest of 'jobsworth' stewards.

One night, Campbell and I were in our cups after a gig together in Carlisle in 2004 and I drunkenly lamented the fact that, whilst he'd been to New York several times, I never had. A couple of weeks later, we found ourselves on an Air India flight (it was the cheapest we could find) on our way to the Big Apple. We had an unforgettable few days, visiting Birdland and the Blue Note club, and other lesser New York jazz dens. We also worshipped at the shrine of Louis Armstrong's house in Queens, then newly opened to the public. 

Like many people, we knew him as a fine trombone player, an immaculate broadcaster, a generous host, a perfect guest, and - above all - a beautiful human being. He will be so very sadly missed, and our deepest sympathies go out to Jenny and the family.

This is an extract from an e-mail I've just received from Campbell Burnap's widow Jenny, which was sent to all his immediate Jazz friends. 

Campbell was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when we were in Australia in April. After we returned home, he continued to play his trombone until just two weeks before he finally lost his struggle against this awful disease. Notably, he played with the John Barnes Outswingers at the famous Lords Cricket ground before the start of play and during the lunch interval at the England versus New Zealand Test match. Campbell was a member of the MCC, and jazz and cricket were his two great loves, so these were his favourite gigs! 

I have been overwhelmed with messages of affection and admiration for his kindness, humour and wonderful broadcasting and jazz skills. Following a private funeral, we are having a memorial celebration at 2 p. m. on 4 July, in the Long Room at Lords. Just before this event, we will sprinkle Campbell’s ashes in the Harris Gardens which is where he played with the band at all the Test matches. It’s the most appropriate venue where we can remember him. I hope by then that all the people who come will be able to smile at the memories of Campbell that the concert will evoke. He was such a gifted man who brought happiness into the lives of so many people, and I hope the occasion will bring a smile to people’s faces and evoke happy memories of the most wonderful man in my life.

Friends are invited to donate to one or both of the following charities: 

Human Rights Watch UK – specifically for their work for Children’s Rights
Pancreatic Cancer UK

Please send donations to: In memory of Campbell Burnap

Steven Mears, Funeral Directors
123-125 Sydenham Road
London SE26 5HB

With warm wishes from Jenny 

31/05/08 - Hello Fred,

 I've just picked up the message about Campbell Burnap from your website. What a terrible shock and a feeling of great sadness will be felt by all who knew him. He was a great friend of the band and had played with us at various venues as a special guest for many years. We will be sending our sympathies to his wife Jenny.

Best wishes - Peter Fryer
Merseysippi Jazz Band

31/05/08 - Dear Fred,

Just got your very shocking news about Campbell. Barbara and I knew him quite well from meetings at various Merseysippi functions, parties at the Lawrence house and, some years ago, he came over to Sacramento to play trombone in the band I was running at the time.

Mike McCombe

02/06/08 - Fred, 

How sad to hear the news about Campbell Burnett. We only met him once when he guested with the Merseys in Southport about 4 years ago but we were very impressed with him both as a musician and as a very likeable man. Norma has his autograph and we have a fine CD which often makes the car journeys more enjoyable. JazzFM had a lot to answer for when they took him off the air!

Malcolm Pennington


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