Trombonist and double bassist Chris Barber, one of the key figures in British jazz, has died aged 90.
As well as being at the vanguard of the trad jazz revival, first with Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen and then leading his own bands, Barber played a crucial role in the development of British rock’n’roll. In 1955, he recorded a version of “Rock Island Line” with his banjo player Lonnie Donegan that became the first debut vocal record to be certified gold in the UK, sparking the skiffle boom.
In the late 1950s and early ’60s, Barber was responsible for bringing blues artists such as Big Bill Broonzy, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Muddy Waters to Britain, incorporating blues elements into his own music. He collaborated with Rory Gallagher – on cult 1972 album Drat That Fratle Rat – and later played with the likes of Van Morrison and Jools Holland.
Barber had recently been suffering from dementia, although he only officially retired from performing in 2019.