Don Long Tribute Page

Photo - Keith Allcock

29/10/07 - This sad news just in from Barry Aldous - "I had a call from Mary Long this morning at 8.30am. She advised me that Don passed away at 6.00am this morning, Monday 29th October. He was being cared for at a local Hospice and had been severely ill with cancer for some time. I have no further information at the moment but I will pass on funeral details as soon as they become known to me.  I am passing on this message with Mary's approval".

Joe Silmon - 

Today, 29th October 2007, at 6 a. m., our old friend and colleague Daniel Long ("DON LONG"), ex-trombonist with the Capitol Showband in the 1960s, and a popular Jazz trombonist and vocalist on the Manchester Jazz scene since the late 1960s, died peacefully in his sleep, at St. Ann's Hospice, near Cheadle, Cheshire. He had been suffering from Cancer of the sinus for approximately a year, following a quintuple heart bypass three years ago. He spoke often about his wonderful times with the Capitol Showband and of many of his Irish friends in Dublin, Cork, etc., and the great festivals in his homeland, which I believe he left in approximately 1969, for England, shortly after the Capitol Showband disbanded temporarily. Don was 69 years of age last June.

 After initial lessons as a young lad of about sixteen, and practising with friends, Don eventually joined the Capitol Showband in 1961, replacing Pat Loughman (trombone). Between 1961 and 1968-69, while in the Capitol Showband, Don played alongside Butch Moore (vocals), Jimmy Hogan (guitar), Des Kelly (bass), Johnny Kelly (drums), Eamonn Monahan (keyboards), Paddy Cole (sax/clarinet) and Paul Sweeney (trumpet), Paul being replaced by Bramwell ("Bram") McCarthy in 1963. Don then joined Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazzmen, etc., in London, in approximately 1969. He has since played in Ireland, England and Scandinavian countries with the Clusky-Hopkins Original Guinness Jazz Band, frequently remembering Barry, Des, Billy, Bob, Mike ("Magic"), Peter, Paddy (Cole), Brian, Danny, Andy, Doug and several others too numerous to mention. He was very popular at every Cork Festival that he graced by his presence. Don "depped" in other bands too. 

In 1969 Don settled in Manchester with his wife Mary; their daughters Claire and Jane were born here. Between 1969 and 70, he played at the Carousel (Plymouth Grove - the old Astoria Ballroom). From Manchester, he did many tours all over the world, including Canada and the USA, and especially worked for long periods at the Casa Bar, Zurich. He was sometimes with the Piccadilly Six (ex-Back O'Town Syncopators' personnel) in other parts of Switzerland. Between the 70s and 90s Don was based at Ganders go South, off Deansgate, Manchester, leading his own band. After approximately three years at Chorlton Conservative Club, Manchester, with his own 59th Street Bridge Band and Alan Yates's Dixieland Hotshots between the Millennium and about 2003-4, he played and sang with The Jazz Gentlemen and guested frequently with Keith Allcock's "Jazz Rendezvous" at both The Star Inn in Rainford, and the Haresfinch Social Club in St. Helens, Lancs., during which time he also played at "Beaky's" (Beaconsfield Conservative Club) Ashton-under-Lyne, in Norman Pennington's band. One of his last regular jobs was with Mart Rodger's Manchester Jazz, which got him touring again. The last two years of his life put him out of circulation, but he was a fighter to the end, itching to practise on his trombone. If he died under the illusion that he was playing, he could not have had a better passing. 

May I extend my deepest condolences to his family here in Manchester, to his relatives and friends in Ireland - where Don has left a son and a daughter from his first marriage - and to all of his friends elsewhere.


Simon Holliday -

Please pass on my sincere condolences and good wishes to Mary and the family.  I worked for Don both in Manchester (Ganders) and abroad, and learned a great deal from him about showmanship and bandleading. He was a pleasure to play with, and a warm and gentle person. Sad news. Another old friend gone.

Kind regards, Simon

Keith Allcock - 

Hi Fred, We were very sorry to hear that Don Long had finally succumbed after his lengthy battle against illness. What a fine jazzman he was, with a tremendous ability to create excitement and lift a band by the sheer dynamism of his playing. 

Over the ten years of the Jazz Rendezvous sessions, Don was the most regular guest, with well over 100 appearances. He always gave full value and was a great favourite with audiences, who loved not only his ebullient playing and singing (he'd learned over his many years leading his own band how to work an audience), but also his warm and friendly personality off the stand. 

A particular talent of Don's was that he could vary his style according to the setting. He loved playing in a driving Chicago-style to mainstream band, but he could also play terrific tailgate trombone when it was called for. I well remember at one of our Jazz Rendezvous sessions we were playing Redwing. When it came to his solo, Don reached for a pint glass and, using it as a mute, blew an extended solo as if his life depended on it, building up the tension to fever pitch. I have that performance on minidisc, along with many more, with Don in the company of different musicians, and he never once failed to put everything into his playing. 

Above all, Don considered it his job to entertain, and his many fans will remain grateful to him for that. 


Andrew MacKenzie -

Very sorry to hear about the death of Don Long. Although I only met him a few times, I did have the pleasure of playing with him which is quite unusual for two trombone players. He was a nice man and very approachable and helpful. Everyone knew him in the North West jazz scene, and beyond for that matter, and he will be much missed. I only got to play with him because we had both been double booked for a gig; we couldn't decide who was going to play (we had both come about 50 odd miles for the gig) so we both did it, and it was a lot of fun.


Pete Fryer -

 Much saddened to hear about Don Long.  Although I didn't know him that well he has been on the scene for many years and of course he was a former member of Roy Potts' Five and a Penny with whom I'm working as much as time allows. 

Peter Darwin. - 

What a terrible loss to the jazz fraternity. Don was a fine Musician . From his early days in the Irish Showbands to the last gigs with the Jazz Gentlemen, Don kept us all amused. and always gave his best. 

To all Dons Family and friends may I offer my wholehearted sympathy. 

God bless you Don,
"You did us proud".

Jon Critchley - 

I only played with Don a few times, but he immediately made me welcome:  He was a superb player, great singer and a super chap with a wonderful sense of humour.  I always looked forward to playing with him again.

Regards, Jon

Des Hopkins - 

At the final session of the Cork Jazz Festival last Monday we heard the sad news that Don Long had passed away. There was a tribute to the large crowd, from Cork band leader Harry Connolly, The audience included many musicians from both the UK USA and Ireland, Don, a Cork man, a fine Trombonist, a friend, and almost a household name in this country. 

I've known Don for more than forty years, he is indeed a great loss. To Mary and Dons Family, sincere sympathy, from his many, friends and the musicians he worked with over the years here in Ireland. May he rest in peace.


Terry Binns

It was with much sadness I heard of the passing of Don Long. I only played alongside him on a couple of occasions when he depped with the Yorkshire Stompers

But we got on just great, especially when he found out that I had worked in Cork , with my daytime job, and played at Cork Jazz Festival. We did some serious reminiscing. Don was great musician and a really nice guy. My condolences go out to his family and friends. 

Terry (drummer with the Yorkshire Stompers) 

Noel Broadgate - 

So sad to hear that that well known and well loved musician Don Long had finally succumbed to illness. My sincere condolences to his family. I first had the pleasure of meeting Don some twenty years ago, when he invited me to "sit in" down at Ganders. What an honour! That was the start of a long, happy and fruitful relationship. I learnt so much from sitting behind, and listening to Don, me sharing the seat with the great Alan Howarth, impressed as I was not only by Don's immaculate playing, or by the way he fronted the band, but by his out-and-out professionalism, putting on the same great show whether it was quiet, like it occasionally was in mid-week, or when, come Saturday, the place was a-buzz with diners, fans, and musicians who "just happened to be passing, and just popped in". And when we had Guests on the Sunday, they were always pleased to accept Don's invitation. 

I remember the day when Don phoned me up to say the Ganders had closed, and then again when he was rushed into Hospital for his heart job. But he fought back, playing with other luminaries in various bands, and guesting with us at the Beaky. And what about those pre-Christmas weekends in that draughty shopping precinct in Northwich! One particular weekend sticks in my mind however, when, at the last minute, John Stavordale got hold of Don and me to help out at the Marsden Jazz Festival. It was almost "Ganders re-visited". Happy Days! We all hoped that he would conquer this latest set-back, but regrettably, it was not to be. So all that I can say now Don is "Good Night, God Bless".


John Stavordale - 

Attending Don's funeral on Friday last was indeed a sad occasion, we have lost one of the jazz greats on the Manchester scene. Having worked with Don over the past 12years, it was easy to see why he was so popular and sought after as a front man for many local bands. My time with Don playing drums with his resident band at Ganders Go South in Manchester was an experience everyone who played there will surely remember and I'm sure will continue to reminisce for a long time. The many famous guests he invited to the Sunday night specials were always quick to accept and indeed were full of praise for Don's playing, showmanship and overall presentation. What more can we say except, we have lost an irreplaceable jazz front liner.


Barry Aldous - 

Don was a Master, Maestro and Mentor. A Master of his instrument which earned him respect from other trombonists and musicians at all levels. He had learned his trade on tour with the Capitol Show Band, including visits to New York when it was all happening on 52nd Street. His playing was influenced greatly by Jack Teagarden but had significant content of his own making. He played with enthusiasm and attack, honing his solos from performance to performance to add more excitement. Another major influence on his approach to playing jazz was Louis Prima, although this was not recognisable, or exploited within the framework of the conventional Dixieland bands with which he played.

It took the Maestro element of his personality to expose the true Don Long. The six nights a week of 'Almost live Jazz!' at Ganders Goes South restaurant in the heart of Manchester providing the diners with a show of 'eight to the bar' music based on popular jazz standards as well as the more subtle renditions of the American song book. This went on for thirteen years and was a source of work for many quality local musicians, to many to mention here but all well known within the local jazz fraternity. On occasions, he extended the six evenings in to seven by adding a guest for those special Sunday sessions, Roy Williams, Kenny Baker, Harry (Sweets) Edison and Humph to name but a few. The Louis Prima approach to his performances was also very successful at the Casa Bar in Zurich. It was here that Don eventually took over from the Bob Wallis band, having played with them and others at this venue. He would take leave from Ganders and play this venue once or twice a year, twenty eight nights or more on the trot, taking with him musicians that had supported him at Ganders as well as using renowned local musicians .

As a Mentor, to those like myself, he passed on the skills of performing to a live audience, behaviour and posture on the stage being a key factor. He also provided up and coming local musicians the opportunity to play where other bandleaders would not. There are those on the jazz scene today that will testify to this. Here is an extract from a recent email from Nev Taylor, ex Dallas Jazz Band and father to drummer Grant. ''.... He gave Grant his first job as a musician at Ganders many years ago. I thought he was one of the finest trombone players around & have a lasting good memory of him playing with Mart Roger's band at Didsbury where he blew up an absolute storm. Cath & I were in Ayr recently where Grant was playing with the Old Fashioned Love Band at the Jazz festival...''.

Whether playing with the Manchester Panama Jazz Band at Tommy Ducks, doing his own thing at Ganders, the Casa Bar and more recently with established local bands, Don would put on a first class show that will remain an example to all us musicians, for as long as we live. The performance provided by many of those close to him, following the funeral, at the Metropolitan in West Didsbury on Friday afternoon was heartfelt to say the least.


Mike Carnie - 

I was so sorry to hear the sad news about DON LONG. On the occasions I played with Don I found him to be a great chap and an excellent musician. He will be missed by many people and my sincere condolences go out to Mary and her family. 

Mike Carnie and the Band.

2nd November, 2007
by Joe Silmon-Monerri

The funeral service for Don Long at St. Joseph's R. C. Church, Longsight, ran smoothly today (2nd November). The Priest wisely left it to family and friends to speak intimately about Don's life. An excellent turnout - about 150+, mostly local musicians, but clearly very well attended by Don's close family, his widow Mary, daughters Claire and Jane, their husbands and children, Don's brothers and sisters, children from Don's first marriage and whole branches from as far as Ireland and Scotland, all representing three generations of the Long family. 

Music (in Church): the "Ave Maria", played by George Galway on flute: Magnificent and dignified, despite his digitised backing equipment packing in when he least expected it to. He just calmly carried on playing splendidly; that's our George! I think it was an improvement without the backing; the lad's "brill'. "Panis Angelicus", composer: César Franck, played by myself (clarinet, unaccompanied) during Holy Communion: possibly passable; I was very nervous at first, wondering if I could get through it without fluffing notes or hesitating. I was lucky; it went smoother than I had expected. Let the congregation judge me! Mary's brother, John, read out a Lesson befitting the occasion. We then moved on to Manchester Crematorium in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. 

I would say that there was about the same amount of people at the Crematorium as at the Catholic service; certainly a very packed chapel. The same Catholic Priest came along to officiate. Don's older brother, John - who happens to be the artist responsible for the excellent portraits of famous Jazz musicians that hang at The 100 Club, Oxford St., London, took the pulpit to recall Don's early life as a very young football addict, one anecdote reflecting his attendance at a Celtic v. Rangers-type match. During the match, Don had vigorously applauded for some particularly brilliant football tactic by a member of the opposing team to the team's supporters in whose enclosure he was sitting. He was, needless to say, not too popular. Excuses were made for him, though, claiming that he was young and naive. But it had been a close call! John reminded me about something Don told me a while back. Apparently, his first instrument was the clarinet. However, he'd had an accident with some sharp object and lost the end of one of his fingers. The permanent injury meant he would never be able to play the instrument again, having tried it briefly. He sold the clarinet and got a trombone instead, and stuck to it for good. I didn't know that Don had been in at least two showbands before the Capitol. John and his sister-in-law, Mary, also told me that Don had met and, I believe, sat in with Trummy Young, when visiting America with the Capitol Showband. Both John and Claire, Don's eldest daughter, will be contacting me some time to update me about Don's early life, mainly for my Jazz projects (a book/rolls-of-honour). All grist to the mill!

The reception at the Metropolitan Hotel was, again, very well attended. The family had an opportunity to relax after the worries and the uphill struggles of the past three years. Despite their obvious sorrow, the inevitable had happened; it was time to release the tension, to realise that although they could no longer see Don, at least he wouldn't be suffering the pain and indignities that go hand-in-hand with this type of gradual deterioration of the body and mind. It was a time for hot soup, sandwiches, pies and drinks. But the real tonic Don's family needed was there in full force; they had asked for this for themselves, but also in the knowledge that Don would have most definitely approved. Very ably and efficiently stage-managed by Barry Aldous, down to the last detail, there was a veritable parade of drop-in musicians on hand to provide some great music, in relays. Dick Nancarrow (drs), Maurice Gavan 
(pno) and Paul Medina (d/bss) were the basic trio to kick off the proceedings. Not only that, but they also put their instruments at the disposal of other sitters-in. There was no shortage of these. John Gordon (gtr), Noel Broadgate (pno), Moe Green/Mike Gilman/Dave Moore/John Stavordale (drs), Gordon Rankin/Keith Allcock/Colin Smith (bass), Mike Burns (tpt), Terry Brunt (+beret and mini-scarfe + tbn), Howard Murray (tnr sx.), Stuart Scott (alto sx.), George Galway/Barry Aldous (clt) and yours truly (reeds - we three did "Creole Love Call" on 3 clarinets á la Ellington - nice!). 

Barry Aldous sang "S'Wonderful" in a great and effective medium bossa nova style. A quality professional vocalist - whose name I forgot to ask - but who occasionally sang at Ganders with Don's band in the 80s and 90s gave top flight renditions of a nice selection of songs. This was Paul Mizen. A trumpet player sat in while I was in another room (eating). I later caught sight of him as he was leaving and eventually discovered that it was Roy Potts, of Five-and-a-Penny. Our old and lovable pal, Bert Allen sang with great gusto and in his usually warm and intimate style. We were sorry that Doug Whaley hadn't brought his trumpet along; our loss. However, he vociferously supported the band(s), as he slowly relaxed ("as a newt" - I believe for the first time in four years - good for you Doug!). We must not forget the many other musicians present, who didn't play but who were, nevertheless, there supporting Don's family: Alan Yates, Maurice Pike, Howard Parr, Tony Dunleavy, Mart Rodger, Doug Whaley, Norman Pennington and others too numerous .... The presence of the many "orchestra wives" (two Mary's, Cathy, Janet, Edna, Linda, Hilary, and more) who attended and who always ably support their men during these occasions, was also very much appreciated. It was good to see Mart Rodger walking so well and so soon after his tricky knee operation. Numbers were important; so you all did Don and his family proud. 

Mary bravely took the stand, to thank everyone present, relatives, friends and musicians for attending and taking part in the proceedings, and Barry Lavin, Manager of the Metropolitan Hotel (and close friend of Don's when he was the owner of Ganders go South - until the 1996 IRA bomb blast), for his support with catering and room facilities. With tears in her eyes, Mary said "Don's here among us, and will have enjoyed the music and the company". With that, we all left for our separate destinations. Don had been given a great send-off! 

Joe Silmon-Monerri Manchester
November 3rd, 2007 

Claire Walker - 

I would like to pass on heartfelt thanks on behalf of my Mum (Mary Long) and the family to so many people. Going back to Dads long stay in hospital and his bypass surgery in May 2004, it was lovely to see him get so many lovely cards, letters and visits from friends, colleagues and fans. Dad made a great recovery from his heart operation and was itching to get back to playing again. He gigged with a variety of different bands across the North West although was often frustrated by the obvious decline in jazz scene activity, that was experienced by all of his fellow musicians. Dad took another blow with his health in June 2006, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Although at this point it was in fact quite mild, his disclosure of this condition to DVLA meant he had his drivers license revoked. This was a major setback to Dad as he knew this would have a negative impact on his ability to get to gigs. Again, his friends and colleagues came to his aid offering lifts and assisting with his travel arrangements. Dad continued to play following his cancer diagnosis in April, right up until three days before he was admitted to hospital for seizures caused by his illness. As ever, the get well wishes, care, support and friendship poured in, not only to Dad but Mum too, which was extremely comforting and greatly appreciated. 

On the news of his death last Monday morning, the phone has never stopped ringing and once again letters, cards and flowers have been never ending from the very same lovely people I've made reference to already. The funeral of my Dad was always going to be difficult ,but it was made easier by the tributes paid by all the north west jazz fraternity. The reception that followed at The Metropolitan, West Didsbury was the best tribute and send off that Don could have imagined, with a jazz spectacular involving so many of his wonderful friends. I listened with delight to tune after tune that I've grown up hearing my Dad play so well, and it was truly nostalgic and wonderful for the family. From speaking to the many musicians involved, they enjoyed it too. To each and every one of them, may I once again thank you for not only your musical contribution but your ongoing care, concern and support. 

Claire Walker (Don Longs daughter)

''If there's trouble ahead, let the band play on'' - Don Long, June 2007

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