James Last

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James Last
A picture of James Last in 2006
James Last in 2006
Background information
Birth name Hans Last
Born (1929-04-17) 17 April 1929 (age 85)
Bremen, Germany
Genres Big band
Occupations Composer
Labels Polydor (Germany)

James Last (also known as "Hansi") (born Hans Last, 17 April 1929) is a German composer and big band leader. His "happy music" made his numerous albums best-sellers in Germany and the United Kingdom. His composition, "Happy Heart", became an international success in interpretations by Andy Williams and Petula Clark. According to the British Hit Singles & Albums book, he has reportedly sold in excess of eighty million albums worldwide.[1]

Early life[edit]

Last's father was an official at the public works department of the city of Bremen and he grew up in the suburb of Sebaldsbrück. He learned to play the piano from the age of 12, then switched to double bass as a teenager. His home city was heavily bombed in World War II and he ran messages to air defence command posts during raids. At 14 he was entered in the Bückeburg Military Music School of the German Wehrmacht.[2]

After the fall of the Nazis, he joined Hans-Gunther Österreich's Radio Bremen Dance Orchestra in 1946. In 1948, he became the leader of the Last-Becker Ensemble, which performed for seven years. During that time, he was voted as the best bassist in the country by a German jazz poll for three consecutive years, from 1950–1952. After the Last-Becker Ensemble disbanded, he became the in-house arranger for Polydor Records, as well as for a number of European radio stations. For the next decade, he helped arrange hits for artists like Helmut Zacharias, Freddy Quinn, Lolita, Alfred Hause and Caterina Valente.

Work[edit]

James Last in 1970

Last first released albums in the U.S. under the titles The American Patrol on Warner Brothers around 1964. He also released a series of nine albums in a series called Classics Up To Date vols. 1–9 which served up arrangements of classical melodies with strings, rhythm and wordless chorus from the mid-1960s through the early 1980s. Last released an album, Non-Stop Dancing, in 1965, a recording of brief renditions of popular songs, all tied together by an insistent dance beat and crowd noises. It was a hit and helped make him a major European star. Over the next four decades, Last released over 190 records, including several more volumes of Non-Stop Dancing. On these records, he varies his formula by adding different songs from different countries and genres, as well as guest performers like Richard Clayderman and Astrud Gilberto. He also had his own successful television series in the 1970s with guests ABBA and Lynsey de Paul.

Though his concerts and albums are consistently successful, especially in the UK, where he had 52 hit albums between 1967 and 1986, which made him second only to Elvis Presley in charting records,[citation needed] he has had relatively few hit singles. In the UK, his only chart singles were "The Seduction", the theme from American Gigolo (1980) composed by Giorgio Moroder, and "Biscaya" from the album Biscaya. In the US, where "The Seduction" became a Top 40 hit, peaking at No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 22 on the Adult Contemporary chart in May 1980, Last was somewhat more successful on the singles charts. In 2003, his song "Einsamer Hirte" (The Lonely Shepherd) which features the pan flute of Gheorghe Zamfir appeared on the soundtrack of the Quentin Tarantino movie Kill Bill: Vol. 1.[3]

He has won numerous popular and professional awards, including Billboard magazine's Star of the Year trophy in 1976, and has been honoured for lifetime achievement with the German ECHO prize in 1994. His song "Music from Across the Way" (recorded by Andy Williams in 1972) is a melody with a classical feeling and was a worldwide hit; it is the only other Last single apart from "The Seduction" to reach the U.S. Hot 100, where it peaked at No. 84 (and No. 18 on the Adult Contemporary chart) in late 1971. (His only other U.S. chart single was a double-sided entry featuring remakes of The Village Stompers' "Washington Square" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary", which reached No. 22 on the Adult Contemporary chart in early 1971.)

Last has a large fan base in Europe and elsewhere. His trademark is big band arrangements of pop music hits; his series of party albums is equally well known. Over the course of his career, he has sold well over 100 million albums.[4] In the United States, Last's music was a staple of the mainly instrumental-based Beautiful Music radio format for years.

Songs composed by Last which achieved success in the US include "Happy Heart" and "Music From Across The Way", both recorded by Andy Williams, "Games That Lovers Play", recorded by Eddie Fisher(singer), and "Fool", recorded by Elvis Presley.

Personal life[edit]

Last divides his time between Florida and Germany. He gives much credit to his wife and son, who help with his music.

Discography[edit]

Productions of James Last: (As Hans Last, Orlando and James Last)

  • Tricks in Rhythm (1959)
  • Die gab's nur einmal (1963)
  • Die gab's nur einmal (1964)
  • Musikalische Liebesträume (1965)
  • Continental Tango (1965)
  • Non Stop Dancing '65 (1965)
  • Hammond A Go Go (1965)
  • Non Stop Dancing '66 (1965)
  • Beat In Sweet (1965)
  • Ännchen von Tharau bittet zum Tanz (1966)
  • Trumpet A Go Go (1966)
  • Hammond A Go Go Vol.2 (1966)
  • Instrumentals Forever (1966)
  • Classics Up To Date (1966)
  • Non Stop Dancing '66/II (1966)
  • Midnight In December (1966) (Single)
  • Christmas Dancing (1966)
  • Sax A Go Go (1967)
  • Non Stop Dancing '67 (1967)
  • That's Life (1967)
  • Games That Lovers Play (1967)
  • Non Stop Dancing '67/2 (1967)
  • Trumpet A Go Go Vol. 2 (1967)
  • James Last Presents George Walker (James Last and George Walker) (1967)
  • Fanfare (1967)
  • Piano A Go Go (1968)
  • Guitar A Go Go (1968)
  • Humba Humba A Go Go (1968)
  • Non Stop Dancing '68 (1968)
  • Freddy Live (1968) (live-concert with Freddy Quinn)
  • Trumpet A Go Go 3 (1968)
  • Non Stop Dancing 7 (1968)
  • Rock Around With Me! (1968)
  • Käpt’n James bittet zum Tanz (1968)
  • Sekai Wa Futari No Tameni (1968) (only in Japan)
  • Die Dreigroschenoper (1968) (3 LP-box)
  • Non Stop Dancing 8 (1969)
  • Hammond à Gogo 3 (1969)
  • Op klompen (1969)
  • Ännchen von Tharau bittet zum Tanz 2 (1969)
  • Hair (1969)
  • Non Stop Dancing 9 (1969)
  • Wenn suess das Mondlicht auf den Huegeln schlaeft (1969)
  • Happy Lehar (1969)
  • Non Stop Evergreens (1969)
  • Classics Up To Date Vol.2 (1969)
  • Onder Moeders Paraplu (1969)
  • Golden Non Stop Dancing 10 (1970) (jubilee-edition as LP-Box)
  • Around The World (1970) (3 LP-Box)
  • Beachparty (1970)
  • America Album (1970) (promo-edition — not official released)
  • With Compliments (1970)
  • Does His Thing (Happy Music) (1970)
  • Non Stop Dancing 11 (1970)
  • Käpt’n James bittet zum Tanz — Vol. 2 (1971)
  • In Scandinavia (1971)
  • Happyning (1971)
  • Non Stop Dancing 12 (1971)
  • Last Of Old England (1971)
  • Beachparty 2 (1971)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1972 (1971) (Non Stop Dancing 13)
  • Polka Party (1971)
  • In Concert (1971)
  • In Concert 2 (1971)
  • Music From Across The Way (1971)
  • Voodoo Party (1971)
  • Wenn die Elisabeth mit ... James Last (1972)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1972/2 (1972)
  • Love Must Be The Reason (1972)
  • Beachparty 3 (1972)
  • Russland zwischen Tag und Nacht (1972)
  • Polka Party II (1972)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1973 (1972)
  • Super Non-Stop Dancing (1972)
  • Classics (1973)
  • Sing mit (1973)
  • Happy Hammond (1973)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1973/2 (1973)
  • Beachparty 4 (1973)
  • Stereo Spectacular (1973)
  • Weihnachten & James Last (1973)
  • Käpt’n James auf allen Meeren (1973)
  • Polka-Party (1973)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1974 (1973)
  • Sax and Violins A Go Go (1974)
  • Sing mit 2 (1974)
  • In Wien beim Wein (1974)
  • James Last Live (1974) (2 LP-album)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1974/2 (1974)
  • Beachparty 5 (1974)
  • Polka Party 3 (1974)
  • Violins In Love (1974)
  • Classics Up To Date 3 (1974)
  • Sing mit 3 (1975)
  • Non Stop Dancing 20 (jubilee-edition) (1975) ("Non Stop Dancing '65" new recorded)
  • In The Mood For Trumpets (1975)
  • Well Kept Secret (1975)
  • Tulpen uit Amsterdam (1975)
  • Rock Me Gently (1975) (Only England & Canada)
  • Beachparty 6 (1975)
  • Mambo No. 5 And Other Loved Classics (1975)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1976 (1975)
  • Stars im Zeichen eines guten Sterns (1975)
  • Sing mit 4 (1976)
  • Freut Euch des Lebens (1976)
  • Happy Summer Night (1976)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1976/2 (1976)
  • Happy Marching (1976)
  • Classics Up To Date 4 (1976)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1977 (1976)
  • Sing mit 5 (1976)
  • James Last spielt Robert Stolz (1977)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1977/2 (1977)
  • Western Party And Square Dance (1977)
  • Russland Erinnerungen (1977)
  • Sing mit 6 – von Hamburg bis Mexico (1977)
  • Non Stop Dancing 78 – Folge 25 (1978)
  • Live In London (1978)
  • World Hits (1978)
  • Classics Up To Date 5 (1978)
  • New Non Stop Dancing '79 (1978)
  • Copacabana – Happy Dancing (1979)
  • James Last And The Rolling Trinity (1979)
  • Non Stop Hansi (1979) (to his 50. birthday — not for sale)
  • Hereinspaziert zur Polka Party (1979)
  • Paintings (1979) (Only in Japan)
  • Live in Tokyo (1979) - Bootleg recording not official release
  • Ein festliches Konzert zur Weihnachtszeit (1979)
  • The Non Stop Dancing Sound Of The 80's (1979)
  • Sing mit 7 – Die Party für das ganze Jahr (1980)
  • Romantische Träume (1980)
  • Seduction (1980)
  • Caribbean Nights (1980)
  • Non Stop Dancing '81 (1980)
  • Rosen aus dem Süden (1980)
  • Die schönsten Melodien der letzten 100 Jahre (1980)
  • Sing mit 8 … und ab geht die Feuerwehr! (1981)
  • Ännchen von Tharau bittet zum Träumen (1981)
  • Tango (1981)
  • Hansimania (1981)
  • Non Stop Dancing ’82 – Hits Around The World (1982)
  • Sing mit 9 – Lass’ die Puppen tanzen (1982)
  • Jahrhundertmelodien (1982)
  • Biscaya (1982)
  • Nimm mich mit Käpt’n James auf die Reise (1982)
  • Paradiesvogel (1982)
  • Sing mit 10 – Wir wollen Spass! (1982)
  • Non Stop Dancing '83 – Party Power (1983)
  • Erinnerungen (1983)
  • James Last spielt die grössten Songs von The Beatles (1983)
  • The Rose Of Tralee (1983)
  • Superlast (1983)
  • Classics Up To Date Vol.6 (1984)
  • James Last im Allgäu (In The Alps) (1984)
  • Paradiso (1984)
  • James Last At St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin (1984)
  • James Last in Scotland (1984)
  • Non Stop Dancing '85 (1984)
  • Grenzenloses Himmelblau (1985)
  • Für alle! (Leave the best to Last) (1985)
  • Viva Vivaldi (1985)
  • Swing mit (1985)
  • Deutsche Vita (1986)
  • In Ireland (1986)
  • Plus (James Last & Astrud Gilberto) (1986)
  • Traumschiff-Melodien (1986)
  • Alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei (1987)
  • James Last in Holland (1987)
  • James Last spielt Bach (1987)
  • The Berlin-Concert ’87 (1987)
  • Lorentz & Soehne (1988)
  • Flute Fiesta (James Last & Berdien Stenberg) (1988)
  • Dance, Dance, Dance (1988)
  • James Last spielt Mozart (1988)
  • Happy Heart (1989)
  • Wir spielen wieder Polka (1989)
  • Lieder (James Last & René Kollo) (1989)
  • Classics By Moonlight (1990)
  • James Last in Holland 2 (1990)
  • Traummelodien (James Last & Richard Clayderman) (1990)
  • Pop Symphonies (1991)
  • Serenaden (James Last & Richard Clayderman) (1991)
  • Viva España (1992)
  • Country Cousins (1992)
  • James Last in Holland 3 (1992)
  • Frieden (Peace) (1992)
  • James Last spielt Andrew Lloyd Webber (1993)
  • Christmas Eve (James Last & Engelbert Humperdinck) (1994)
  • Dein ist mein ganzes Herz (James Last & Milva) (1994)
  • In Harmony (James Last & Richard Clayderman) (1995)
  • Beach Party ’95 (1995)
  • My Soul – Best of Motown (1995)
  • Classics From Russia (1996)
  • Macarena (1996)
  • Pop Symphonies 2 (1997)
  • Classics Up To Date 8 (1998)
  • Country Roads (1998)
  • The Best of Live on Tour (1998)
  • James Last & Friends (1998)
  • Best of Kapt'n James (1998)
  • Happy Birthday (1999)
  • Concerts (1999)
  • Gentleman Of Music (2000)
  • Ocean Drive (2001)
  • James Last Plays ABBA (2001)
  • A World Of Music (2002)
  • New Party Classics (2002)
  • Elements Of James Last Vol.1(2004)
  • They Call Me Hansi (2004)
  • Die schönsten TV- und Filmmelodien (2006)
  • Live in Europe (2006)
  • Warum Maenner nicht zuhoeren und Frauen schlecht einparken (Soundtrack) (2007)
  • In Los Angeles (Well Kept Secret 1975) (2008)
  • Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Released as 1 DVD-edition and 2 CD-edition) (2008)
  • Eighty Not Out (Released as a 3-CD Edition) (2010)
  • Music Is My World (2011)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 313. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ Last, James (2007). My Autobiography. London: Metro Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84454-434-9. 
  3. ^ James Last at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Kennedy Street. "James Last". Royal Albert Hall. Retrieved 2012-12-15. 

External links[edit]