Echo 42 (Four Two) Band started in 1984 following an advert in the local newspaper asking for musicians to form a dance band. Following that first meeting in Starbeck, 10 players and their supporters decided to form the band.
Echo Four Two Band (1985)
Many of the brass section came from The Harrogate Band and the saxophones from The White Rose Band and Granby School Band. Founding member, Derek Usher, remains playing Tenor Sax (and sometimes Clarinet, for a Dixie number) with the band today.
The band gets its name from the first chart it played at the first rehearsal. It was an arrangement by Ian Davey of then popular TV show theme ‘Cops & Robbers’ written by Laurie Johnson entitled ‘Echo Four Two’. The band’s first few gigs were local pubs, Bilton Cricket Club, CEGB and a concert at Starbeck’s methodist church.
Arthur Woodthorpe was one of the band’s early band leaders and added his fun sax playing as well as many new arrangements to the band. At the time, Arthur’s daughter was a pub landlady in Bishop Monkton, so the band played there every month. It was a bit of a struggle to get 18 players plus an audience into that small pub, but it was worth it as the band got a free pint each at half time.
Big bands fell out of favour for a time and Geoff Grant, then the band secretary, worked tirelessly to keep the band together. Time passed and more changes followed, including band leaders. Mike McCreath took over for a couple of years, and later Ross Simpson, who played lead trumpet, became our bandleader and then Musical Director – a position he still holds today. Ross is supported by Matt Clayton as our deputy MD and lead alto sax player.
Some of our many musical highlights over the years have been:
- Strict Tempo Dances at the Blackpool Winter Gardens
- Big Band Ball at Leeds Town Hall
- Duke Ellington’s Sacred Songs Service Concert – Ripon Cathedral (band plus massed choirs)
- Harrogate Sun Pavilion Dance Nights
- 1940s themed weekends in Grassington
- Harrogate Dance Festivals – with Strictly Come Dancing stars
- Featuring as the Army Swing Band in the hit UK movie “A Royal Night Out”
We have now celebrated over 32 years of music making and love taking part in many new events.
From those early beginnings as a small community big band, Echo 42 now plays for a variety of events and is known for musical professionalism and a sense of fun.
The band is passionate to keep music live and remains an active supporter of national & local community charities. We would like to thank you all for your continued support.