Monty Sunshine

It is with great sadness that we report that Monty Sunshine
died on Tuesday, November 30, 2010.

Several obituraries for Monty have appeared in the British and European press, including:

World-famous clarinet player Monty Sunshine was born in London on 8 April 1928. He received, so he once said, a very dull education, consisting of "numerous years" as a student at Camberwell School of Art. During that time he started to play the clarinet, very much influenced by the records of Johnny Dodds and George Lewis.

Around 1949 he formed with Ken Colyer, John R.T. Davies and others the Crane River Jazz Band which was to have a great impact on the development of British traditional jazz. After this period Monty formed his own quartet, in which were Chris Barber on bass, Ron Bowden on drums, and Lonnie Donegan on banjo.

In 1953 Monty and Chris formed a band to be led by trumpeter Ken Colyer who was about to return from a long stay in New Orleans. However, after musically different opinions, a year later Colyer was fired and Barber took over the leadership and so the Chris Barber Jazz Band was born on 31 May 1954.

After some time it appeared that Monty was of great importance in the growing popularity of the Barber Band. In October 1956 the band recorded an LP which contained a solo number by Monty Sunshine. It was just part of the LP. However, in early 1959 this title was issued as a single and after a few months Monty and Chris received a Golden Disc for the million seller "Petite Fleur". With Barber Monty made his first tour of the USA and visited almost every European country.

It was a great shock for traditional jazz lovers when, at the end of 1960, Monty left the Chris Barber Band. Happily he formed a new band, playing the same type of jazz as his old group. In March 1961 the new Monty Sunshine Jazz Band made its first public appearance in London with, amongst others, Rod Mason (trumpet) and Johnny Parker (piano). From the start the band was a great success, especially on the Continent. But when the so-called Trad Boom was over (1965) it was more difficult to keep a band on the road. Luckily Monty never really gave up and everything went better from around 1970. Monty and his band were very popular especially in Germany, and most of his records were made there.

In 1972 the old Crane River Jazz Band was reformed and they met with great success. In 1975 Monty renewed his connections with Chris Barber, becoming a regular guest artist with the Barber Band.

(Text reproduced from the Timeless Records website; used by permission.)

Music: Hushabye, recorded in 1956 for the LP Chris Barber Plays, Volume 2, and now available on The Pye Jazz Anthology (Castle Music CMDDD 139); and Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home, which first appeared on Chris Barber In Concert, Volume 2, and which was also re-released on The Pye Jazz Anthology. You can also listen to part of one of Monty's recordings with his own band -- Weary Blues -- available from Timeless Records on two CDs: Just A Closer Walk With Thee and Great Moments With Monty Sunshine.

Magazine article from the early 1960s

(Click anywhere on the graphic to read the article)
Monty Sunshine Photo Gallery
The above photograph of Monty's original band was taken by Keith Payne at St. Alban's Jazz Club in 1962. In addition to Monty, the personnel included Rod Mason, Graham Sutton, Dickie Bishop, Gerry Salisbury, Johnny Parker, and Nick Nicholls.
(Reproduced by permission of Keith Payne)
Slide show

(Click anywhere on the graphic to start the slide show)

Monty Sunshine CDs on Timeless Records

For more details and purchase information
about Monty Sunshine's CDs, go to

Back to the Former members of the band page.