Dick Heckstall-Smith

Dick Heckstall-Smith

Musical Artist
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Dick Heckstall-Smith

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Dick Heckstall-Smith (16 September 1934 – 17 December 2004) was an English jazz and blues saxophonist. He played with some of the most important English blues-rock and jazz fusion bands of the 1960s and 1970s.

Early years

Heckstall-Smith was born Richard Malden Heckstall-Smith in Ludlow, England (his father then being headmaster of the local Grammar School), and brought up in Knighton, Powys. He learned to play piano, clarinet and alto saxophone in childhood.

After refusing a second term at a York boarding school, he went to Gordonstoun, where his schoolmaster father, Hugh, had taken a job. Hugh soon fell out with the autocratic Kurt Hahn and the family retreated to Dartington.

Heckstall-Smith completed his education at the Foxhole school before reading agriculture – and co-leading the university jazz band – at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, from 1953. Aged 15, he had taken up the soprano sax while at Foxhole, captivated by the sound of Sidney Bechet. Then the smokiness of Lester Young's sound caught him, and the music of tenor saxist Wardell Gray, a major early bebop musician.

Musical career

Heckstall-Smith was an active member of the London jazz scene from the late 1950s. He joined Blues Incorporated, Alexis Korner's groundbreaking blues group, in 1962, recording the album R&B from the Marquee. The following year, he was a founding member of that band's breakaway unit, the Graham Bond Organisation; the lineup also included two future...
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