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Gerry Salisbury

Gerry Salisbury

© Photo courtesy of Gerry Salisbury 2007


Gerald William Anthony Salisbury was born in London on the 7th August 1929. Gerry’s dad, William ‘Jock’ Salisbury was also a multi-talented musician who played trumpet, drums, piano and vibes.

When he left school, Gerry worked at the London Palladium as a page-boy before he went to the Middle East with the Army for his National Service.

It was then that he took up the playing jazz. A friend took him to hear Freddy Randall’s band at the Cook’s Ferry Inn and Gerry was so inspired that he went out and bought a trumpet. A mix of aptitude and commitment meant that Gerry played his first gig two months later. He did not know at that stage that he would later play in Freddy’s band himself.

Returning home from the Middle East, Gerry began to play jazz on a regular basis with Johnny Parker, Paul Simpson, Jim Bray and Bob Dawbarn before joining Mike Collier’s Chicago Rhythm Kings in 1952. Then came periods with Charlie Galbraith, Norman Cave and Bobby Mickleburgh in the early 1950’s before travelling to Europe with Jo Daniels.


Gerry Salisbury and Kenny Ball



Gerry Salisbury with Kenny Ball
© Photo courtesy of Gerry Salisbury


Gerry did not read music at all, and when he joined Bobby Mickleburgh’s nine-piece band on second trumpet, he found that all the others were reading music. It turned out not to be a problem as Bobby said that Gerry could play a better harmony than Bobby could write anyway, and so Gerry managed O.K. and nobody got hurt!

Gerry then took up the double bass in addition to his trumpet.

Freddy Randall’s one-time piano player, Mike Bryan, phoned Gerry to say that he was starting up a band to play at the United States Air Force bases throughout France. Lennie Hastings, Tony Coe, and others had signed up but Mike needed a bass player – was Gerry interested? Gerry had just two weeks to learn. Mike offered Gerry an old string bass that was at Mike’s house, and two weeks later, Gerry went to France and stayed for six months playing with the band.


He came back to England to play for Teddy Foster but soon moved to play bass in Freddy Randall’s band. Fred used to play a two-week session in Green’s Playhouse, a ballroom in Glasgow, and augmented the band to around sixteen musicians. Fred, like Bobby, did not find it a problem that Gerry didn’t read music.

Gigs followed with Teddy Layton on valve trombone.

From 1959 to 1961, Gerry played bass and trumpet with Monty Sunshine and then for a year played bass with Johnny Wiltshire and the Trebletones.


Gerry Salisbury and Monty Sunshine Curve and Colour ad



Around this time, Gerry on bass and Monty Sunshine with his clarinet were hired to take part in a women's fashion photoshoot entitled 'Curve And Colour' - jazz was clearly in fashion.


Through the 1960s and early 1970s Gerry worked with a number of bands including Alex Welsh, Diz Disley, Charlie Galbraith and Dick Sudhalter. For five years he often played with John Richardson at the Tally Ho pub in London, before forming his own band.

It was during this period that Gerry played with Sandy Brown’s Band. Playing cornet he joined Sandy at a live session at the Country Club in Hampstead in London on 17th December 1971 with drummer Phil Seaman’s Band to record Alen’s Alley, It’s A Wonderful World, When Sonny Gets Blue, and Just Squeeze Me. Sandy and Gerry played together again in 1974, recording two unissued sides (Those Were The Days My Friend and President’s Blues) with Sandy on clarinet, Gerry on cornet and bass, and with Brian Lemon (piano), Bobby Mickleburgh (trumpet/trombone) and Bill Bramwell (guitar).

Gerry and Sandy seemed to really hit it off. Gerry remembered an occasion when Sandy had been abstaining for some time, and feeling down that particular evening he came to the pub in Holborn to ‘have a blow’ with Gerry’s band. He was so low that the availability of alcohol broke his period of abstinence. Whether it was the pint Gerry bought him, or the evening playing with Gerry and Keith Christie, who knows, but by the end of the evening Sandy was back to his old self again.



Co-incidentally, in around 1967 Gerry helped to build the Trident Recording Studios that Sandy had designed when he was working at the B.B.C.

In 1972, Gerry moved to Norfolk, joined drummer Dennis Buck’s Trio and then formed his own quintet in Norwich.

In 1975, he moved back to London working during the day at a recording studio but also playing with Stan Greig’s Trio, Digby Fairweather’s Friends, Tony Lee’s Trio and occasionally his own Trio.


Gerry Salisbury and Lennie Hastings





Gerry with Lennie Hastings playing with the Stan Greig Trio
© Photo courtesy of Gerry Salisbury











Gerry Salisbury in Spain




In 1979, Gerry suffered a heart attack and in 1981 he moved back to Norfolk. He went on playing during the 1980s and 1990s, mostly on trumpet, with Jack Parnell, the Vintage Hot Orchestra and with Pete Oxborough.

Gerry then moved to Spain and then to the Dordogne in France.


Gerry playing with a band in Spain with Mike Hogh guesting on trombone.

© Photo courtesy of Gerry Salisbury





On one occasion on 31st August 1980, Gerry played a gig at Chats Palace in London with Willie  Garnett (saxophone), Max Britain (guitar), Clive Bracy (drums) and Ken Rankin (drums).

Chats Palace was founded in 1976 to provide arts and education opportunities to the local community, when the Homerton Library moved to a new building a few yards down the road. The former library building was appropriated by members of the local community who wanted to ensure that the Grade II listed building, donated to Hackney in 1913 by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, remained in community hands and ‘For the Betterment of East Londoners’. .... In the 1970s when many arts centres were being established (including Roundhouse Camden, Warwick Arts Centre and the Barbican Centre), Chats Palace was unusual because it origins were rooted in the demands of a working-class audience. Joan Littlewood’s vision for a People’s Palace played a role in the naming of Chats, chosen because it resonated with Littlewood’s People’s Palace and as a tribute to the Palace cinema that had existed on Chatsworth Road’.


Here is the band on that occasion playing All The Things You Are:







Gerry Salisbury and Alan Barnes




In October 2007, Gerry returned to Norfolk to play at the 10th anniversary of the Jazz club he started in East Dereham, but which was now held at the Ling country club. Alan Barnes was the main guest and as well as having the opportunity for a great blow, the occasion gave Gerry a good chance to catch up with some old friends.



2007 - Alan Barnes and Gerry Salisbury at 10th birthday of the Jazz Club Gerry established in Norfolk.

© Photo courtesy of Gerry Salisbury








In December 2009 we featured the track 'Love For Sale' on the Sandy Brown Jazz website and mentioned how African American singer Elizabeth Welch took over the role of the prostitute in the show 'The New Yorkers' from Kathryn Crawford after objections that the song was 'in bad taste'!


Elizabeth Welch first recorded Love For Sale in 1930. In this video she sings it again 50 years later.




The story prompted recollections from Gerry Salisbury:

'When I was 14, I worked at the London Palladium first as a page boy showing people to their boxes with Dickie Valentine as the other page boy, then I got promoted to Call Boy backstage knocking on the doors and shouting "Overtures and Beginners". Tommy Trinder had a show that ran for 18 months and Elizabeth Welch was in the show. I fondly remember her as a lovely, kind lady who always had a smile and sang on stage with a large orchestra conducted by Debroy Somers who always wore white tie and tails. When I tell you that thirty two chorus girls gave me sixpence a week to go to the various pubs around the Palladium and give them a shout to give them time to get on stage, and that Debroy Somers gave me half a crown every time I opened the door for him - well in those days half a crown was a huge tip'.

'After 18 months, Tommy Trinder gave me 10 shillings for calling him and getting him on stage in time! In 1943, Irving Berlin came to the Palladium with his big successful show This Is The Army and the orchestra was made up of American service men - I often wonder who they were as they probably included some of my heroes - does anyone know?'


Gerry's 80th Birthday Gig




Gerry Salisbury celebrated his 80th birthday in 2009.



Gerry's 80th Birthday Gig
© Photo courtesy of Gerry Salisbury









Gerry was back in the UK in June 2010 when Dereham Jazz Society staged a special gig under the title 'The Bull's Head Revisited'. Richard Nelson said: 'It is a real pleasure to have cornettist Gerry Salisbury back at the club he founded 12 years ago. The night will be doubly special as Gerry is joined by the great tenor player Jimmy Hastings recalling their times at the Bull's Head in Barnes'. Gerry said: 'It will be great to play with Jim again. He is an amazing player who uses circular breathing which means he does not take a breath at all!' The other musicians at the gig were Phil Brooke (guitar), Ivars Galenieks (bass) and Bob Doré (drums).

In October 2010, Gerry Salisbury's wife, Jean, wrote to tell us that Gerry had a stroke on Sunday evening 19th September and was admitted to Perigueux hospital.  Thankfully it was a mild one and after tests and observation he returned home.  His speech was affected and he had weakness in his right hand, but he expected to make a good recovery. Gerry was feeling OK, but still had a way to go. It was a good sign that Gerry has had the trumpet out for a short while each day.

In October 2011 we were delighted to hear that Gerry had arrived back in the UK. After some years living in France, Gerry and his wife returned to live in Norfolk. Gerry wrote: 'I am trying to play and it's quite difficult, but I am getting there slowly. I am playing with some old friends - Ivan who plays alto sax and is 88 and Eric who plays trumpet with a Bobby Hackett sound who is 94. He is my new hero - he stands up when he plays a chorus - amazing - and he is five feet tall!'


In this video from 2012 Gerry plays Let's Get Lost at the Norwich Jazz Jam. Buzz Clarke is on trombone.




(I am reminded of a story from clarinettist Alvin Roy of the eighty year old trumpet player who was driving home after a gig at 2.00 in the morning. Pulled over by a policeman, the policeman asked: 'Where are you going at this time of the morning, sir?' The trumpet player replied: 'I'm going to a lecture on drinking too much and staying up late'. 'Who on earth is giving a lecture on that at this time of night?' asked the policeman. 'That'll be my wife,' came the reply).

By 2019, Gerry had retired from playing. He continued to live in the Norfolk area but his health deteriorated sfter being diagnosed with lung cancer and he passed away on the 9th February 2020 having spent the weekend listening to jazz and hearing about his time at Trident Studios read to him by his daughters from a book by Norman Sheffield. Gerry contributed significantly to jazz both in the UK and in Europe and he will be long remembered.

Gerry's funeral was held at St Faiths Crematorium, 75 Manor Road, Horsham St. Faith, Norwich, NR10 3LF on Friday 20th March 2020. Due to the coronavirus outbreak the funeral was just be for Gerry's family, but they have arranged for it to be shared online here as a Live Webcast between 11:40 and 12:40. A celebration of Gerry's life will be held later in the year.


If you have any memories of Gerry that would would like to add to this page, please contact us.

Dean Masser: 'Sad news. Gerry was a great player and very nice chap. RIP.'

Jackie Free: 'So sorry to to hear this news, Gerry and I used to play together quite a lot many years ago, he was a fine trumpeter and bass guitar player.'

Donna Tomlin: 'I am his eldest granddaughter, every time we saw him he would always have a story to tell and none of us ever got tired of listening to them. Music was his life, he had so many fabulous memories that he often shared with the family and he will be very dearly missed.'

Martin Guy: 'So sad. Wonderful man and musician.'

Syd Wardman: 'I did not know Gerry personally but I knew of him. He played with Geoff Sowden in Spain. Geoff was a great trombonist and I knew him from way back. Geoff was alwas very keen on having the best trumpet players with him.'

Eric Wilson: I played bass in the Mike Collier band in the early 50’s. Gerry was young and brilliant, inspiring! I have told you before of that amusing story: During a break in band practice, Gerry borrowed the guitarist’s car to buy snacks. Bill was the only member of the band to own a car. It was old but Bill’s pride and joy. As Gerry drove fast around a corner, his door fell off and skidded down the road! We found a screwdriver and some twigs to re-attach the door. Gerry drove back very slowly! On  our return, we said nothing because Bill,  the car owner, had a weak heart! One more story: We were rehearsing in the Blackpool Tower, but had to stop because lions were roaring nearby. Shortly afterwards, a large man in circus uniform, came from behind a curtain and told us to shut up!' 

Kevin Willoughby on the YouTube page of Gerry's All The Things You Are (see above): 'This lovely, very funny and wonderful musician was living just down the road from me and I didn't know it!!! As a musician myself for over 40 years I have to say what an honour and delight it has been to be in the company of this most inspiring musician, who has had the most fascinating life, and not only with a never ending list and repertoire with most (if not all) of Britain's top jazz artists, (a list that would take up this page and more) but also his connection to Trident Studios in Wardour St. and later Abbey Road Studios. He used to share his sandwiches with John and Yoko!! ... Gerry Salisbury is one of those very special musicians, the rarest, a master of harmony and melody, and a damn good bass player too, but as a Cornet player with his own style and signature, and very much like the other icon of the Cornet, Bix Beiderbecke he couldn't read a note of music or chord chart, but he played and toured with the best during that very special post war period of British Jazz and arts in general ... not just one of Britain's top heritage Jazz musicians, but a true personality with a sense of humour as lively as his agile improvisations. Such a pleasure and honour to know such a marvelous iconic jazz man.'


Peter Maguire writes following news of trumpeter Gerry Salisbury's death and adding to our page about Gerry (click here):

'Sad to hear about his passing. Gerry was a member of that rapidly diminishing company  whose lives were defined by a love of music and the spirit of the 'Jazz Life'. My first encounter with Gerry Salisbury was a concert at RAF Yatesbury. He was on bass with the Mick Mulligan Band with George Melly on vocals. However, also there was his valve trombone lying on top of the piano. I was playing with the support band that included the late Tony Pringle. Moving on to my Soho days we ran into each other occasionally. This included hearing him play at a few jam sessions. A very good musician with a distinct lyrical style. The last occasion I saw him before I left London for the chilly north was at 'The Nucleus' in Monmouth Street. Around two thousand and ten we started to exchange emails - to be strictly accurate the email address of his wife Jean. They were at that time living in France. A man with a well developed sense of humour he related how he had suffered a heart attack during a gig at 'The Bulls Head' in Barnes and ended up lying on the cobbles in the entrance  passage until the ambulance took him off to hospital. The nursing staff were somewhat agog when the likes of Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk, Geroge Melly et al. started to call the hospital to see how he was faring. "I was lying in bed, no one else in the room," he told me "when all of a sudden I saw hovering above my bed a vision of the late Lennie Hastings with a broad grin on his face. I knew at that moment I was going to recover." Indeed he did recover and continued to live on and continued to play.'


© Gerry Salisbury and Ian Maund 2007-2020


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