Tubby Hayes

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For other people named Edward Hayes, see Edward Hayes (disambiguation).
Tubby Hayes
Birth name Edward Brian Hayes
Born (1935-01-30)30 January 1935
St Pancras, London, England
Died 8 June 1973(1973-06-08) (aged 38)
Hammersmith, London, England
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Saxophones, flute, vibraphone
Years active 1951–1973
Associated acts Ronnie Scott, The Jazz Couriers
Memorial to Tubby Hayes, Golders Green Crematorium

Edward Brian "Tubby" Hayes (30 January 1935[1] – 8 June 1973)[2] was an English jazz multi-instrumentalist, best known for his tenor saxophone playing in groups with fellow sax player Ronnie Scott and with trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar.

Early life[edit]

Hayes was born in St Pancras, London, and brought up in London. His father was a BBC studio violinist who gave his son violin lessons from an early age. By the age of ten Hayes was playing the piano, and started on the tenor sax at eleven. Dizzy Gillespie was an early influence:[3]

I always used to listen to swing music in the early 'Forties and, in fact, I was just a kid at the time. I did not really intend becoming a tenor player, though I always liked tenor. I think maybe Dizzy influenced me more than Parker because he was sort of more accessible, he caught your attention more. As far as my influences over the years are concerned, Getz was it at one stage in the proceedings, and later Rollins, Coltrane, Hank Mobley and, to a lesser degree, even Zoot.

One much repeated story about Hayes' early career was told by Ronnie Scott. Scott was playing at a club in Rose Hill near Sutton, and was asked whether he minded if a local player sat in: "This little boy came up, not much bigger than his tenor sax. Rather patronisingly I suggested a number and off he went. He scared me to death."

Hayes attended Rutlish School in Merton Park, south London, where his music teacher was Roy Howard. After a period spent playing with various semi-professional bands around London, Hayes left school and started playing professionally at the age of fifteen.


In 1951, when he was sixteen, Hayes joined Kenny Baker's sextet, later playing for big-band leaders such as Ambrose, Terry Brown, Tito Burns, Roy Fox, Vic Lewis, and Jack Parnell. In 1955 he formed his own octet, with which he toured the UK for eighteen months. Hayes took up flute and vibraphone during this time, but it was as a tenor-saxophone player that he made and retained his reputation.

From 1957 to 1959 he joined Ronnie Scott in co-leading a quintet, The Jazz Couriers, perhaps the most fondly remembered of British Modern Jazz groups. Subsequently, Hayes reformed his quartet, and toured Germany with Kurt Edelhagen. Then in 1961 he was invited to play at the Half Note Club in New York City; a new transatlantic Musicians' Union agreement meant that, in exchange, Zoot Sims played at Ronnie Scott's. While in America, Hayes recorded (Tubbs in NY) with Clark Terry, Eddie Costa, and Horace Parlan, and in 1962 he returned for another visit, this time recording Return Visit with James Moody, Roland Kirk, Walter Bishop Jr, Sam Jones, and Louis Hayes. He played at the Half Note again in 1964, and at the Boston Jazz Workshop the same year, and at Shelly Manne's Manne-Hole in Los Angeles in 1965.

Back in London, Hayes formed his own big band, working in television, film, and radio, and even having his own television series (1961–1962, and 1963). He stood in for Paul Gonsalves in February 1964 (with whom he also recorded twice (Just Friends taped in February 1964 and Change of Setting recorded a year later)) when the Ellington orchestra played at the Royal Festival Hall.

As well as leading his own bands and recording under his own name, Hayes also appears on recordings by other UK jazz musicians, such as the Harry South Big Band, the Ian Hamer Sextet and later studio sessions by Ted Heath's Orchestra. Hayes was also a prolific session musician in many genres. Among his many credits, Hayes was one of the session musicians on Music in a Doll's House, the acclaimed 1967 debut album by rock band Family, on which the young Mike Batt arranged the strings and brass. Batt credits Hayes with saving his arrangement on the track "Old Songs for New Songs", which was his first major recording session as an arranger—on the first take, he discovered he had inadvertently notated the parts in the wrong key but Hayes and his colleagues, realizing his mistake, discreetly transposed their parts by ear so that they would match the backing track.[4]

Hayes appeared in a number of films, including All Night Long (1961) with Charles Mingus and Dave Brubeck, and (with his group) in A King in New York, by Charles Chaplin (1957), The Beauty Jungle (1964) and Dr Terror's House of Horrors (1965). He also played at a wide range of jazz festivals, including Reading, Windsor, Antibes, Lugano, Vienna, and Berlin.

By the mid-sixties regular gigs were hard to come by for British jazz musicians; first rock and roll and then Rhythm and Blues and the Beatles had altered the musical landscape and as a result Hayes now rarely worked at London clubs like The Flamingo and The Marquee at which he'd been a regular headliner during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Matters were made worse by a combination of relationship, alcohol and narcotics issues, which by 1968 had begun to publicly affect his career. He was arrested in August 1968 for possession of Heroin and was given a suspended sentence. By the end of the following year, he had begun to experience breathing difficulties when playing, the latest in a long series of afflictions. In 1970, Hayes spent fifteen weeks in hospital owing the a severe infection of his internal organs. In July 1971 he underwent open heart surgery to replace the Mitral Valve. This operation was a success and he was able to start performing again in December 1971. In 1972 toured Norway, Sweden and Finland. In 1973, he died during a second heart operation at Hammersmith, at the age of thirty-eight. He was cremated and the ashes interred at the Golders Green Crematorium, where there is a white stone memorial plaque affixed to one of the walls. The epitaph reads "Long live his memory and his music".

Hayes left a legacy of recordings that are now sought-after collectors' items, almost all of which have been re-issued on CD. Despite a rumour that some early Tempo master tapes owned by Decca were wiped by the company.[5] it was discovered recently that certain masters do exist, including that for one of Hayes best albums, Tubby's Groove, recorded in 1959. Further tapes from this session were sent to Blue Note Records for audition in 1960 but were subsequently lost until being rediscovered in 2008. These were included in the album Tubby's New Groove, issued in 2011.

In 2015, a full-length biography, The Long Shadow of The Little Giant: The Life, Work and Legacy of Tubby Hayes by Simon Spillett was published by Equinox Publishing Ltd. The book became a best-seller, receiving widespread praise in both the specialist and non-specialist press and was nominated among the top books of 2015 by The Guardian.

Spillett has also catalogued Hayes private tape archive and has organised the release of many previously unheard Hayes sessions on labels including Savage-Solweig, Acrobat, Candid, Harkit, Art of Life, Tentoten and Avid.

A DVD documentary, Tubby Hayes; A Man In A Hurry directed by Lee Cogswell and produced by Mark Baxter, with narration by actor Martin Freeman, was released in 2015. It contains archive footage and interviews with fellow musicians, friends, family and fans of Tubby.


  • 1955: The Swinging Giant Volume 1
  • 1955: Tubby Hayes Quartet
  • 1956: After Lights Out
  • 1956–57: The Swinging Giant Volume 2
  • 1957–59: The First and Last Words
  • 1957: Pub Crawling (with Jimmy Deuchar and Stan Tracey)
  • 1957: Tubby Hayes and the Jazz Couriers
  • 1958: In Concert
  • 1959: The Eighth Wonder
  • 1959: Tubby Hayes and the Jazz Couriers
  • 1959: The Last Word
  • 1959: Tubby's Groove
  • 1961: Tubbs
  • 1961: Tubby Hayes Quartet
  • 1961: Tubbs in NY
  • 1962: Late Spot at Scott's
  • 1962: Down in the Village
  • 1962: Equation in Rhythm
  • 1962: Tubby's Back in Town
  • 1962: TH and the All Stars: Return Visit
  • 1963: A Tribute: Tubbs
  • 1963: What the Dickens!Johnny Dankworth and his Orchestra
  • 1963–65: Live in London vols 1 & 2 (tapes made by Les Tomkins at the Old Place in Gerrard Street, London.
  • 1963–66: Night and Day
  • 1964: Tubbs' Tours – Tubby Hayes and His Orchestra
  • 1965: Just Friends – with Paul Gonsalves
  • 1965: The Liquidator (soundtrack)Lalo Schifrin
  • 1966: Jazz Tête à Tête
  • 1966: 100 Percent Proof
  • 1966: Addictive Tendencies
  • 1966: Sound VentureGeorgie Fame and the Harry South Big Band
  • 1967: For Members Only
  • 1967: Mexican Green
  • 1969: Live 1969
  • 1969: 200 Percent Proof
  • 1970: The Orchestra
  • 1972: Quartet in Scandinavia
  • 1972: Symphony: The Lost Session 1972 2015

With Victor Feldman


  1. ^ GRO Register of Births: MAR 1935 1b 171 PANCRAS – Edward B. Hayes, mmn = Roche
  2. ^ GRO Register of Deaths: JUN 1973 5b 1627 HAMMERSMITH, DoB = 30 January 1935
  3. ^ Wilmer, Valerie: Talkin' with Tubby. Jazz News and Review, Vol.7 No.22, August 1963, p.14.
  4. ^ Mike Batt Official Website – 2010 Blog archive – "Confessions of a young musical arranger" (27 September 2010)
  5. ^ Avid Recordings Publicity

External links[edit]