Gary Burton: Interview 3
Lennie Bush: Interview 1

Lennie Bush (1927–2004)

English jazz double bassist Lennie Bush studied and played violin before switching to bass at 16 and began playing professionally by 17. In the mid-1940s he joined Nat Gonella’s band but turned to bebop later in the decade. Bush was a founding member of London’s Club Eleven, the first London jazz club to offer performers a paid gig and he played there in a band alongside Ronnie Scott.

Bush studied at the Guildhall School of Music and from 1950 onwards performed a great deal of freelance work. Bush was much in demand and participated in the European tours of the bands of Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Zoot Sims and Roy Eldridge.

He became a member of Jack Parnell’s ATV Orchestra in 1957 and recorded with Stephane Grappelli and Anita O’Day. He continued to play in the 1990s, notably as part of the Ralph Sharon Tio alongside Jack Parnell.

Biography by Mike Rose


A gentleman of jazz

This outline of Lennie Bush’s career is an extract from the biography of British jazz double-bassist Lennie Bush, taken from "Who's Who of British Jazz" and is followed by Ron Simmonds’ recollections of him, in particular his love of fast cars. 


Joe Bushkin: Interview 1

Lennie Bush: Interview 1

Image Details

Interview date 1st January 2004
Interview source Jazz Professional
Image source credit
Image source URL
Reference number
Forename Lennie
Surname Bush
Quantity 1

Interview Transcription

Lennie played violin as a child. Early in his career he studied at the Guildhall School of Music under James Merret, Snr. He took up the double bass at sixteen and a year later was part of a variety act called The Rolling Stones and Dawn.

In 1946 he played at London's Fullado jazz club. Worked with the bands of Jerry Hoey, Carl Barriteau, Billy Kaye's Band and Arthur Gibson. Later, in 1948, with Nat Gonella, spent a period at Sherry's in Brighton with tenor saxist Harry Java, then joined Duncan Whyte.

Lennie was a founder-member of Club Eleven in December 1948. He played for a short time with Roy Fox, then joined Ronnie Scott and played with him from 1952 until 1956. During this period he also worked in Tony Crombie's Band, including Tony's periodic trips to Israel. In December, 1956 Lennie accompanied Louis Armstrong at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

In spring 1957 Lennie began a long musical association with Jack Parnell's ATV Orchestra. He continued to play jazz gigs, worked in the Jazz Today unit, appeared with with Dizzy Reece, with Tony Kinsey's groups, often in duo with Alan Clare, and played on innumerable recordings. He toured Europe four times with Benny Goodman and accompanied many visiting American musicians including Zoot Sims, Roy Eldridge, Joe Pass, Clark Terry, and worked often with Stephane Grappelli during the early 1970s. He made many recordings with Stan Tracey.

Bush also worked in various theatrical shows including an eight year run of Me and My Girl, Bubbling Brown Sugar, City of Angels, Guys and Dolls and many more. He was often to be seen in Don Lusher's Ted Heath Band during the 1990s and was regularly featured with The Best of British Jazz group that included Kenny Baker, Don Lusher, Roy Willox, Ronnie Verrell, Brian Lemon and Digby Fairweather.


Material for this profile was taken from John Chilton's Who's Who of British Jazz (Redwood Books) and used with permission.




While I was working in Munich during the 1960s I often returned to London for the odd session. On one of the trips I went to visit the Parnell band. The ATV job had finally shifted from the old Empire cinema in Wood Green to the Elstree film studios. As soon as I got there Lennie Bush took me for a ride in his new Lotus. Lennie wore a heavy surgical boot on his right foot which he used to crash down now and again when he got carried away on the bass. Now he was using it on the accelerator pedal. He just rested it there and the car tore away and did 200 mph at once.

In the old days Lennie, Bob Adams, Dave Goldberg, and I used to go the Odeon, Leicester Square at the end of the motor racing year to see the RAC films of all the events. Dave always fell asleep during the show, but he never missed the occasion, which was put on at midnight. I knew Lennie to be a race fan, but didn’t know he was this much of a devotee.

Lennie drove the Lotus around the film lots on the assumption that no one else in the world was going to be casually crossing the road at any time, using the entire area as his own personal Formula One racetrack. I hung on like grim death while we belted through an amazing panorama of scenes ancient and modern, most of which I vaguely remembered from some film or other in the past. At one moment we were tearing through a quiet English village, the next along a shot-up, deserted Dunkirk street, with hastily vacated cafes, abandoned vehicles, and a burned-out tank. Then through a steaming jungle, to emerge right under the pyramids, cross the desert and dive straight back again through a Hong Kong market. Lennie kept his boot rammed down on the floor at all times, eschewing the use of brakes. We did the lap record for the circuit a couple of times and then we went into the studio.

Laddy Busby greeted me inside. I was still shaking. ‘Hey,’ I said, ‘Have you had a ride in Lennie’s Lotus?’

‘Not any more,’ said Laddy.

Ron Simmonds