Reminiscing about Terry

Terry and Melinda Lightfoot

Back in the 1950s Bob Thomas was a neighbour of Terry Lightfoot’s in Potters Bar. A jazz musician and band leader himself, Bob has wonderful memories of those days and of
Terry’s rise to stardom.

I have been a fan of New Orleans jazz for most of my life and my first 78rpm record was Louis Armstrong playing “Basin Street Blues” which I bought in the late 1940s and still have today.

I moved into my first house in 1956 in Potters Bar and a short while later whilst walking down Sunnybank Road where we lived I passed a house from which came a god awful noise which sounded as though someone was attempting to squeeze jazz out of a cat.

This turned out to be the embryonic Terry Lightfoot jazz band which to my amazement and delight, very quickly developed into one of the finest traditional bands in the country alongside the likes of Humph, Acker, Kenny and Chris.

Later I got to know Terry and Iris mainly through supplying them with new and used cars and also servicing their cars as well as the Lightfoot Band Wagon at my garage in Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town.

A very tense evening
I remember when Terry and his Jazzmen were touring as the support band with the Louis Armstrong Band. He gave me and some of my mechanics complimentary tickets to their gig at The Odeon, Hammersmith. We were servicing the Band Wagon earlier that same day, and typical to band wagon tradition the floor was littered with beer cans and comics. I told one of my staff to sweep it out but unfortunately the double bass had been left in the van without its cover.

An employee took the bass out and rested it against the side of the van. To my horror the wind blew it over, breaking the finger board off. We managed to glue it back into place but then spent a very tense evening at the gig watching the bass player slapping away rhythmically, fearful that the finger board would fall off at any minute.

Being I self confessed coward, I “forgot” to tell Terry about this incident.

Dans les Rues D’Antibes
My favourite number that Terry Lightfoot and his Jazzmen played was “Dans les Rues D’Antibes” by the great Sydney Bechet which is a favourite of my band, “The Thomcats” to this day.

I look forward to the day when I will be up there with that jazz band in the sky and all the wonderful people like Terry, Kenny and Pat, who have given us so much pleasure over the years.

Come on you young musicians, just listen to these guys’ music. I assure you they are infectious and you will not be able to resist getting involved.

Keep jazzing Terry,

Bob Thomas

Editor’s Note: Perhaps the most appropriate YouTube to accompanying Bob’s thoughts is this one starring Terry and his Jazzmen along with his daughter Melinda.

Fred Burnett has also posted a Tribute Page to Terry on Jazz North West.

Photo courtesy of Melinda Lightfoot.


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  1. Kay Leppard says:

    Sunnybank Road brings back memories as a cousin of mine lived there in the ’70s when she first married. They then moved near Potters Bar golf club and lived opposite Acker and Jean for many years.

  2. Jeff Matthews says:

    When I was trying to get back into play traditional jazz just a few years ago, I needed some help from an expert (still do). I very boldly rang Terry Lightfoot. Aim high! He was very kind and suggested I send a tape of my playing. This I eventually did. A few days later Terry phoned me and was encouraging and helpful in his comments. What a nice man to do this and spend the time to help a ‘returning’ musician.

  3. Judy taylor says:

    Has anyone have any photos of Terry Lightfoots band at the Derby Locarno in Uk?

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