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Edward Thornton (born 1931), better known as “Tan Tan”, is a Jamaican trumpeter, whose career began in the 1950s.
Thornton was born in 1931 and attended the Alpha Boys School. In the 1950s, he played in the Roy Coulton band (the first band to play live on Jamaican radio) along with Don Drummond. He toured worldwide with the group, backing a number of jazz stars, and settled in Europe, where he played with several bands including Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames in 1964, playing on several of their hits. He also performed with Georgie Fame and another friend of Rico Rodriguez in the BBC 4 Session: The Birth of Cool. He went on to play on The Beatles’ “Got to Get You into My Life“, and performed with Boney M. In 1975, Thornton played horn on Andy Fairweather Low’s album, La Booga Rooga. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he was part of the horn section for Aswad, as well as playing with King Sounds. He released a self-produced solo album in 1981, on which he was backed by The Cimarons. More recently he has played with Jazz Jamaica, and Ska Cubano.
Since 2008 he has played with the band Kitty, Daisy & Lewis and has featured on most of their albums. In February 2015 and autumn 2017, Thornton joined Kitty, Daisy & Lewis on their European tour accompanying a number of songs as a guest artist.
Eddie Thornton and Glenn Hughes were members of Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, a British rhythm and blues group whose repertoire spanned jazz, soul, ska, and calypso, that Paul McCartney and John Lennon had seen live a few times in some London nightclubs. Through this connection, they were invited to the “Got To Get You Into My Life” session in May 1966 by Paul. However, Glenn Hughes fell ill and was replaced at the last minute by Peter Coe, another member of the Blue Flames. Three other freelancers joined them.
I was playing with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames so I knew The Beatles – John and Paul particularly – from the studios and also from the London nightclub scene. In fact, Paul met Linda Eastman when he was at the Bag O’Nails Club watching us perform. But it was at the Scotch (of St. James) that Paul asked me to do this session with them.Eddie Thornton – Trumpet player – From The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn, 2004
That led to a lot of extra work for me. Through working with The Beatles I played with Jimi Hendrix, Sandie Shaw, The Small Faces and The Rolling Stones.Eddie Thornton
So how did you meet the Beatles? The TV programme that was a predecessor of Top Of The Pops?
Ah! Yes, Ready Steady Go was before Top of the Pops. So we used to meet regularly. We used to be on the same television show regularly. The Beatles, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, and on Thank Your Lucky Stars and all the big programmes. So that’s how I got to meet them. I used to see Paul regularly at the Scotch of Saint James, most of all those society places, the clubs, because those guys were single so they wanted to go and meet women and rave! I used to go raving and every club I go to I’d see Tom Jones, Ingrid Bergman, Rod Stewart.
I was in the little circle. If you’re in the same music business you meet people. But people are very sensitive, they’re checking you out to see if you can come in the circle. And through the circle you’d meet certain people but you have to be like “I see no evil, I hear no evil, I speak no evil”. That’s the way you get in because you go in and start chat all this and that and then you’re out. A little scene, a little clique you know? So I kind of fit in that scene because I see no evil, I hear no evil, I speak no evil. Because you say something and the next one tells the next one and the next one tells the next one and then you’re gone. Because most of those guys weren’t used to black people. They don’t know and they don’t mix with black people. So if they like you they suss you out first and then they say you’re alright.
Paul used to find me all the while, come to sessions with this and that but if I was thinking about money I could be a multimillionaire right now. On that scene because all those guys I was with. George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo, even Mal the roadie, George Martin. You know Kate Bush, Cilla Black, I was in there with everybody. They accepted me. The reason they accepted me was because I knew I didn’t go around and [spread information] – if a guy would come to me and want to find something out I would say “If you want to find out the thing go and ask him. If you’re asking me about me, it’s okay. Don’t ask me about anybody else. Even if I know I don’t know. Because the worst thing you can do is say one thing wrong and it goes around.”
You played on Got To Get You Into My Life. Later Paul McCartney said it was about herb.
Yeah? (Hums melody) I didn’t even know the words. All I did was just going to play the part. If you told me the words I wouldn’t know!
Did you play on any other Beatles songs?
No, just that one.
Who did you like best out of the Beatles?
All of them. To me all of them are the same, you know? I didn’t like this one or that one. But the most friendly one was Paul. Paul was the most friendly in that time. Paul used to go out with Jane Asher. And once they split up it was kind of…
Jane Asher’s brother used to go out with Millie Small.
Millie Small, yeah. In those times, in those days, it was good days. But things change. When a man gets older things change.Eddie Thornton – Interview with United Reggae, August 2018
BEATLES PLUS JAZZMEN
IT’S Ringo, Paul, George and John week! And in this week of “Paperback Writer” (it’s out tomorrow, Friday), comes the news the Beatles have recorded an LP track with top British jazzmen.
Georgie Fame advised the Beatles on the best musicians available that would “think Beatle”. On the session were Ian Hamer, Les Condon and Eddie Thornton (trumpets), Alan Branscombe and Peter Coe (tenors).
Trumpeter Les Condon told the MM of his reaction to working on a Beatle date: “Interesting and unusual — I’ve never done a session quite like it before. The tune was a rhythm-and-bluesish sort of thing — we were only on one number which they had recorded previously. Apparently they felt it needed something extra. That’s why we were there. The arrangement? Well, they didn’t have a thing written down. We just listened to what they’d done and got an idea of what they wanted. Then we went ahead from there and gradually built up an arrangement. We tried a few things, and Paul McCartney – he’s really the prime mover who gets everyone at it — and recording manager George Martin decided between them what would be used. But most of it went right the first time. Ian and I jotted down some voicings but everybody chipped in and credit for the arrangement must be evenly divided. I suggested something for the trumpets for an ending, and we dubbed that on. They didn’t think it was quite strong enough, so we dubbed it on with the three trumpets again. You’ll really be hearing six trumpets in that coda. It was the most relaxed session I’ve ever been on. The Beatles all seemed very nice fellows. And do you know what? They didn’t tell us anything. They kept asking things.”From Melody Maker – June 11, 1966
Last updated on November 15, 2023
May 18, 1966 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Revolver (UK Mono)