Tony Crombie

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Tony Crombie
Birth name Anthony John Kronenberg
Born (1925-08-27)27 August 1925
Bishopsgate, London, England
Died 18 October 1999(1999-10-18) (aged 74)
Hampstead, London,
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums

Anthony John Kronenberg (27 August 1925 – 18 October 1999), known professionally as Tony Crombie[1], was an English jazz drummer, pianist, bandleader, and composer. He was regarded as one of the finest English jazz drummers and bandleaders, occasional but capable pianist and vibraphonist, and an energizing influence on the British jazz scene over six decades.[2]


Born in Bishopsgate, London, England, he started playing drums in his teens. He began to work regularly in London clubs and joined the group of vibraphonist Carlo Krahmer in 1943. He becoming a bandleader for an Irish tour in 1947. In the following year he was part of a trio which accompanied Duke Ellington on the first official postwar tour of Britain by an American jazz musician. In December 1948, he helped start Club Eleven in London, which became a focal point for the emerging bebop scene. He worked closely with Ronnie Scott and Johnny Dankworth and formed a septet at the club. He was the drummer in the Victor Feldman Trio in 1954–5 before Feldman moved to the U.S.

He also led his own bands, including an orchestra featuring Dizzy Reece, Les Condon, Joe Temperley, Sammy Walker, Lennie Dawes, Harry South, and Ashley Kozak) which made two albums for Decca Records in 1954. One featured vocalist Annie Ross and a track with Bobby Breen.

In August 1956, Crombie set up a rock and roll band he called The Rockets[3][4], which included future Shadows bassist Jet Harris. The group was modelled after Bill Haley's Comets and Freddie Bell & the Bellboys. Crombie and his Rockets released several singles for Decca and Columbia, including "Teach You to Rock" produced by Norrie Paramor, which is regarded as the first British rock and roll record[citation needed] and which made the Top 30 in the UK Singles Chart in October 1956.[1]

He is credited with introducing rock and roll music to Iceland, performing there in May 1957. By 1958 the Rockets had become a jazz group with Scott and Tubby Hayes. During the following year Crombie started Jazz Inc. with pianist Stan Tracey. In 1960, he composed the score for the film The Tell-Tale Heart and established residency at a hotel in Monte Carlo. In May 1960 he toured the UK with Conway Twitty, Freddy Cannon, Johnny Preston, and Wee Willie Harris.[5]

On his return to England, he became the house drummer at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, where he accompanied visiting American musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and Jimmy Witherspoon. In September 1965, when Don Byas played at the club, his performance was captured on tape. He also performed in Israel and the United States and began writing for films and television. He toured with Lena Horne, Carmen McRae, Tony Bennett, and Jack Jones, and played piano on the Annie Ross album Skylark.

Crombie continued to lead bands throughout the 1960s and 1970s while working with Scott, Tracey, pianist Alan Clare, organist Alan Haven, Mike Carr (as a duo in 1968 and again in 1970–1), and Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames.


Crombie died in Hampstead, North West London in 1999, aged 74 and was cremated at the Golders Green Crematorium. He had a son and daughter from his first marriage and another daughter from his second; his grandson is the composer, music producer and drummer Dylan Freed. He has 1 other grandson and 5 grand-daughters.


In 1963, Miles Davis recorded his composition "So Near, So Far" for his Seven Steps to Heaven album, and Joe Henderson would make it the title track for his 1992 tribute album to Davis. Several more of his tunes were taken up by major jazz artists, including "That Tune" and "Restless Girl" by Stephane Grappelli, with whom he often worked, and saxophonist Paul Gonsalves recorded a version of "Deb's Delight".


With Victor Feldman

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 127. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ "Tony Crombie: 1925-1999". Retrieved 2015-10-23.
  3. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1 ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 29. CN 5585.
  4. ^ Chabourne, Eugene. "Tony Crombie". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  5. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 82. CN 5585.

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