Genuine Brass Band Legends

How many times have you seen perfectly good threads on tmp of the type "who is the best.............?" being ruined by contributions like "my best mate dave at Smalltown Silver Prize Band is an excellent cornet player" or "young Tommy will be a great player when he's older". Excellent although they may be, how many of them can genuinely be mentioned in the same sentence as Maurice Murphy, Jim Shepherd, Derek Garside, Phillip McCann, Roger Webster.............?

Is it possible to have one of these debates without it becoming parochial? Why can't people just understand the question and give genuine answers when it comes to great brass band players. The Pele / Maradona debate never seems to end up with "my mate Andy that plays five-a-sides on a Monday night and scores fifteen goals every week". Why not? Because everybody knows that Pele and Maradona were actually miles better than him. It's the same in bands. There are genuine legends out there, many of whom are still playing, that have proved for generations that they are a class above the rest.

So, why don't we start again with the real legends of the brass band movement. No nominating your best mate because he's "quite a good player". No nominating Wynton Marsalis / Chuck Mangione / Louis Armstrong / Christian Lindberg / Buddy Rich etc because none of them have ever made a big impact as performers in our movement. To be even worthy of a mention, a legend should have performed with bands at the highest level for a number of years and had the respect of his or her peers during that time.

I'll start the ball rolling with the best players I've ever heard on each of our instruments.

Soprano - Alan Wycherley from the late 70's to early/mid 90's. He made it all sound ridiculously easy and had a sound to die for.

Cornet - Phillip McCann during the Black Dyke years. See explanation for soprano choice.

Flugel - Although there were good players in the past like David Pogson and Stan Lippeatt, the players today are pushed much harder and are generally better as a result. Iwan Williams at YBS has consistently been the best of them over recent years.

Horn - Sandy Smith is the most complete horn player ever. Another one with a glorious sound but technically and musically brilliant too.

Euphonium - Lyndon Baglin. Simply the most commanding brass band player I've ever heard.

Trombone - More difficult one this, but Nick Hudson just gets my vote. Great sound and musicianship. Wonderful soloist.

Tuba - Another difficult one as the players and instruments of today are so much better than in the past. Steve Sykes during the Grimethorpe years takes a bit of beating though.

Percussion - Not my specialist subject, but Simone Rebello has probably made a bigger impact in bands than anyone else.

I'm sure everyone will have their own ideas and there will some that reduce it to their mates just to try and be smart, but try and keep it sensible for once.


PS Maradona gets my vote on the other debate.


Active Member
Bass Trom is sort of a separate category, not listed above. Douglas Yeo gets my vote here.

For euphonium, I've always been partial to Trevor Groom, although he's probably been surpassed these days.


Active Member
Sop - Has to be Charley Cook - Fodens. the first soprano superstar
Cornets - Herbert L Clarke. perfected cornet technique , influenced Cornet playing still inspiring cornetists even now
- Jean Baptiste Arban ( where would brass bands be without Arban)????
Flugel - Stan Lippeatt - Made flugel the solo instrument it is now.
Horn - Gordon Higginbottom - took horn playing to new levels with reportoire , technique and sound
Baritone - John Slinger - 44 years at Black Dyke , top level banding must have been doing something right
Euph - Lyndon Baglin - could fit in the Baritone or the Eb Bass catagory ( having played for Black Dyke on Eb and Bari member of CWS Mancs , Brighouse , Sunlife , Cory) , Magic Euph sound. never bettered even now.
Trom - Norman Law - dragged brass band trombone playing into sounding like a trombone , not a baritone.
Bass Trom - Alf Morton - Faireys..master on G Trom even better on a modern Bass Trom.
Eb Tuba - Hugh Williams (Cory) another pioneer of the use of a stand up soloist , first winner of the Granada band of the Year soloist ( Bombastic Bombardon 1971 ) I suppose the idea has to go to Arthur Kenny. not the best player ever but full marks for the idea of a tuba soloist.
Bb Tuba - Les Beevers , Gilbert Symes , John Gillam , Derek Jackson. revolution in Bass playing started with these four gents.
Percussion - Cathy Gilberston White ( Desford ) Sadly missed but part of the desford team that won so much , great talent , intelligent playing.
Conductors would have to be Fred Mortimer and James Watson - two men who changed the way bands sound and approched music.


Active Member
I thought the post was about " Legends". now Iwan as fine a player as he is will be regarded as the finest flugel player to come out of Wales in a couple of years time.
My points are people who have transformed brass band playing , and have influenced generations of players.
yes there are North Wales legends the late Robert ( Bob ) Morgan, a proud Black Dyke Supporter for over 50 years and Geraint Jones ( the conductor of the Trefor Band ) and of course the Royal Nantle Vale Band one of the best bands in Britain in the 1920's.


Active Member
Definitely Jim Shepherd and Geoff Whitham for me - both excellent instrumentalists who have also contributed so much to the future of banding eg teaching, conducting etc.

Rach x

Tuba Dave

As far as soprano players go i think Alan Wycherly and Peter Roberts a very close second are my brass band legends.

On the tuba front i think John Fletcher and Steve are easily the best.


New Member
soprano - peter roberts
cornet - jim shepard
horn - gordon higgenbottom
baritone - katrina marzella
euphonium - morgan griffiths
trombone - bret baker
bass trombone - douglas yeo
Eb tuba - pat sheridan / andy duncan / steve sykes
Bb Tuba - dean morley / simon gresswell / derek jackson


The Grimethorpe Band of the 60's & 70's with
Peter Roberts, soprano
Brian Cooling, principal cornet
David Moore, euphonium
John Pollard, trombone

Also Geoff. Witham, Trevor Groom, Dennis Smith, euphoniums.


Active Member
Pete Roberts on Sop
Webster on Cornet
Hudson on Trombone

I've spoken to some darn good trombone players who still say Nick Hudson is the daddy!
well here goes...

Sop- Wych or Roberts.... Whych has a gorgeous sound and makes it sound easy, and Roberts is just effortless

Cornet- Brian Taylor....Great player and a nice guy!! bu also Richard Marshal, breath taking and lovely sound!

Flugel- Iwan Williams, gorgeous sound but Helen Fox is great too and a real reliable player

Horn- Gordon Higginbottom or Sheona white, Absolute Class acts!!!

Baritone- Bob Blackburn- his cadenza at the start of Aubade is amazing

Euph- Hard one, so many greats, like Glyn Williams or Morgan Griffiths both are great with breath taking sounds and versatility. oh and also and of the Childs, they are unforgettable!!

Trombone- not too hot on this but think Andy King is great! Nick hudon is a star too

Tuba- The guy from Ybs who wont he award at the europeans (god how dumb am i!)

Percusiion- Mark Landon, great allrounder! espesh on kit and xylophone


A "Great" is only a "Great" when it has become a "has been" what about now?
Just to stir the debate a bit.

Red Elvis

Active Member
The two "Great" SA Eupho players - Derrick Kane - First time I heard him play I didn't know whether to clap or throw myself under the nearest bus with the realisation that I'd never be that good .
Peter Wise - An absolute master, Like Keith Wilkinson he retired whilst still at the top of the pile and left us all wanting more.


Active Member
Baritone Elvis said:
Peter Wise - An absolute master, Like Keith Wilkinson he retired whilst still at the top of the pile and left us all wanting more.

No arguments from here.
I was fortunate enough to have had lessons off Mr Wise. A great teacher and and thoroughly nice guy...a true gentleman


bassboy said:
soprano - peter roberts
cornet - jim shepard
horn - gordon higgenbottom
baritone - katrina marzella
euphonium - morgan griffiths
trombone - bret baker
bass trombone - douglas yeo
Eb tuba - pat sheridan / andy duncan / steve sykes
Bb Tuba - dean morley / simon gresswell / derek jackson

Is Katrina Marzella not a bit young to be a "Legend"?? (Good player though).

I would nominate Stephen Booth for that roll. Fab player
this could go on forever, we've forgot conducters!!!!!

Im gonna Nominate Alan Lawton!, great conductor, amazingly musical and so succesfull, we're lucky to have him conducting us for the time being
or the obvious Dave King, what do we need to say?, how many succeses!!


Staff member
Having had a couple of SA players mentioned, we shouldn't forget James Williams, both as a first-class cornet player and, even more so, as a leading bandmaster over many years. Still holding the fort again at Enfield, I think he definitely would merit a place in any Hall of Fame.

Product tMP members are discussing