Stan Greig: Pianist, drummer and bandleader

His roll call of collaborators was impressive; it included Bilk, Melly, Fawkes and Lyttelton

Because his talents were so various, Stan Greig was never out of work. A pianist first, he soon took up the drums as well and, like his father before him, worked as a piano tuner. For 20 years he tuned the instrument at London's 100 Club and also played there regularly in the bands led by Humphrey Lyttelton, Sandy Brown, Acker Bilk and Ken Colyer. He also accompanied the innumerable American musicians who visited the club.

While he was still at school in Edinburgh he played piano in a band with clarinettist Sandy Brown and trumpeter Al Fairweather. When Brown couldn't find a decent drummer Greig thought the best thing to do was to take up drums himself. He did, and until the late 1960s worked mainly as a drummer. From then on the piano was his main instrument.

Moving to London in the summer of 1954, Greig became the drummer in the deeply traditional band led by trumpeter Ken Colyer. Greig's mainstream jazz experience with Brown made him a little lacking in reverence and in 1955 The Record Mirror wrote that Greig was "the weak spot of the band. Despite the invigorating rock of the banjo and bass he just doesn't quite get there." Maybe that was the trestimonial that persuaded Lyttelton to take on Greig as his drummer in the spring of 1955, beginning an association that was to last, on and off, for 40 years.

In 1956 Greig was the drummer on Lyttelton's record "Bad Penny Blues", done informally at the end of a record session to use up spare time and a surprise to everyone when it climbed up the hit parade.

During the Suez Crisis Greig, a Z-class reservist, was called up and sent to Egypt with the Royal Engineers. Eddie Taylor, a more modern player who'd spent years playing for the Johnny Dankworth Seven and the Don Rendell Jazz Six, replaced him.

"We took Eddie Taylor as a substitute," wrote Lyttelton, "and quite by accident the metamorphosis took place in the band's style. When Stan returned I had to make a choice. Both were excellent drummers, both congenial members of the band. It was a hard judgement to make, but in reality the choice was clear. Musically we had embarked upon a new course and had to stick by it."

So Taylor stayed in the band. Greig instead played piano in the Bruce Turner Jump Band before shortly returning to join Brown and Fairweather, whose jointly led band was by now well established in London. In July 1960 Greig began a long stay as the pianist in Acker Bilk's Paramount Jazz Band. Always regarded as an outstanding boogie-woogie and blues player, Grieg eventually left Bilk in 1968 to lead his own trio. He supplemented his jobs by working for clarinettist Dave Shepherd and bassist Johnny Hawksworth in their small groups.

Greig formed the London Jazz Big Band in February 1975 which for over 10 years generated a very high reputation in London, but not elsewhere, since it didn't tour or record.

When George Melly swept to national fame in 1977, Greig joined his accompanying band, John Chilton's Feetwarmers, staying for three years. He then returned to freelancing and toured Europe with the American Harlem Blues and Jazz Band in 1982.

Lyttelton called him back into his band as pianist and Greig stayed there until 1995, when he left to freelance, playing in Finland and Australia before returning to London and playing in the band led by clarinettist Wally Fawkes. An operation on his left hand 10 years ago robbed it of any power at the piano and soon afterwards his career was ended by the onset of Parkinson's Disease.

Stanley Mackay Greig, pianist, drummer and bandleader: born Joppa, Edinburgh 12 August 1930; twice married (one son, two daughters); died Stevenage 17 November 2012

Suggested Topics
News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam