Don Rader: Article 2
Burt Rhodes: Article 1

Burt Rhodes (1923–2003)

Born in Guiseley, West Yorkshire, Burt Rhodes was one of Britain’s most successful light entertainment musical directors and composers. His career spanned radio and TV, West End and Broadway musicals and he worked with such stars as Judy Garland, Pearl Bailey and Sammy Davis Jr.

As a child he played piano and organ but took up music as a career only after military service in World War II. Rhodes worked in nightclubs, played in Harry Roy’s society band, and became a band leader himself on popular BBC radio shows, in some instances composing theme tunes. Later, he worked on the television shows of Paul Daniels, David Nixon and Beryl Reid.

In London’s West End, Rhodes was musical director for such shows as Expresso Bongo (1958), Stop The World, I Want to Get Off (1961) and Our Man Crichton (1964). From 1966 he was MD at The Talk of the Town in London, leading the orchestra there to accompany such artists as Pearl Bailey, Mel Tormé, Judy Garland, Johnny Mathis, the Supremes and Frankie Vaughan. He also orchestrated films, including the first James Bond adventure Dr No (1962).

Biography by Roger Cotterrell


An organised man

Brief tributes in 2003 to Burt Rhodes from fellow musicians including a further biography by Ron Simmonds.



Burt Rhodes: Article 2

Burt Rhodes: Article 1

Image Details

Interview date 1st January 2003
Interview source Jazz Professional
Image source credit
Image source URL
Reference number
Forename Burt
Surname Rhodes
Quantity 1

Interview Transcription

A nice full blast of big–band noise seeps out from the old scenery–loft latticed doors of the ex–London Hippodrome, now Talk of the Town, as the cabaret reaches end–of–number crescendos. Your scribe makes no secret of laying an ear to that door some nights, en route from pub to club, to catch the electric thrill of Burt Rhodes’ big orchestra. 

Barry Dawson


… exhilarating support from the Burt Rhodes Orchestra. 

Mel Tormé


Burt was a great guy to work under, and when the pressure was really on, as it often was, with big stars and their big egos, Burt remained totally unflappable. 

Trombonist, Stu Parker


Burt Rhodes was a Yorkshireman, and proud of it; Harry Roy was the first name orchestra he played in. He joined the  Forces during the Second World War. His breakthrough into arranging and composing came soon after demob, and he worked on a host of TV and radio shows, and wrote themes. In 1962 he collaborated with composer Monty Norman to score the music for the James Bond film Doctor No.

In 1966 Burt was engaged as MD in the Talk of the Town and took his own hand-picked musicians in there: four trumpets, one trombone, four saxes and rhythm. The band would be augmented with strings and extra brass depending upon the star attraction.  Some of the artists he worked with were Judy Garland, Mel Tormé, Pearl Bailey, with her husband Louie Bellson, Sammy Davis, Jnr and many others.  He was a very organised man, and his willingness to undertake committee work, whether for musical purposes or sporting organisations, was legendary. Ron Simmonds

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