Tito Burns

Last updated

Tito Burns
Tito Burns02.jpg
Background information
Birth nameNathan Bernstein
Born(1921-02-07)7 February 1921
London, England
Died23 August 2010(2010-08-23) (aged 89)
London, England
Genres Jazz, be-bop
Occupation(s)Bandleader, musician, talent manager

Tito Burns (born Nathan Bernstein, 7 February 1921 23 August 2010) [1] was a British musician and impresario, who was active in both jazz and rock and roll.



Early life

The son of a cabinet maker, he was the sixth and youngest child of Polish Orthodox Jewish immigrants who had settled in Bethnal Green. [2] [3] [4] Burns was a self-taught accordionist [1] from the age of 12, initially performing semi-professionally in the 1930s. From 16, he performed as a member of Don Marino Barreto and his Rumba Band, which had extended London residencies. It was as this time that he gained the "Tito" sobriquet which he retained for the rest of his life. [3] [5] He worked with the pianist Lou Preager and the clarinettist Carl Barriteau at the Cotton Club in Soho, with Burns doubling on piano. [6] By 1941, he was leading a group at the Panama Club, but served in the Royal Air Force from 1942 becoming a member of the RAF Regiment Sextet the following year. He saw active service as a gunner in the Far East, but after VJ-Day, he worked in forces radio. [3] [7]

After demobilisation, his new group, the Tito Burns Septet, which was formed in January 1947 and disbanded in August 1955, its existence practically coinciding with the run of the BBC's Accordion Club radio series. [3] [7] The group is believed, partly on the account of musician Ronnie Scott, to have been the first band to perform the new jazz idiom bebop on BBC Radio in 1947. [5] Their approach was derived from the "bop for the people" formula created by the American tenor saxophonist Charlie Ventura. [8] When the show ended, the band went on tour and recorded a number of sides with various line-ups, including the pianist and trumpeter Dennis Rose, Scott and alto saxophonist Johnny Dankworth and drummer Tony Crombie. [5] In 1949, they were recording as a septet, but went back to being a sextet shortly afterwards. [9] Ultimately, Burns was unable to maintain a jazz idiom, and began to lean towards a pop-oriented repertoire. [5]

Talent manager

From 1955, Burns's career switched to management and the emerging rock and roll, which he admitted to disliking. [1] In 1959, he replaced Franklyn Boyd as manager for Cliff Richard. [10] He soon gathered a list of clients, including The Searchers, whom he gave over to Brian Epstein. [11] Among the new talents he discovered was singer Dusty Springfield. [12] As an impresario, he first brought Cliff Richard to tailor Dougie Millings for a stage costume. The resulting outfit, with its unique style, was later emulated by other performers of the time.[ citation needed ]

Burns appeared in D. A. Pennebaker's documentary film Dont Look Back (1965) which documented Bob Dylan's first UK tour, which Burns promoted. [2] He disapproved of what he saw on screen: "I wasn't doing anything unusual. All agents play the bouncing act. I was playing the BBC against Granada, but I didn't like seeing it on film. I thought that none of the TV producers would speak to me again." [3] His agency was bought in 1966 for £250,000 by the Grade Organisation and Burns became the deputy managing director of Harold Davison Ltd, a Grade subsidiary. [2]

Burns briefly left managing performers to become Head of Variety Programming in March 1968 at the soon to launch new ITV franchise holder London Weekend Television, with the head of light entertainment, Frank Muir, being his superior. He poached Simon Dee, then a high-profile host, from the BBC in October 1969, but Dee's eclipse under his new contract and LWT's early internal problems led Burns to resign by summer 1970. [2]

In October 1971, he formed a new company, Scotia-Tito Burns with the Scotia leisure group, which supplemented representing performers with roles as music publisher, television production, film scorings and promoting concerts and their recording projects. [5] Throughout his career, he promoted tours for many US entertainers in Europe including Simon and Garfunkel. He retired in 1976. However, he continued to book Tony Bennett and Sacha Distel for their British appearances, and remained Victor Borge's representative. [1]

Personal life

Burns married Teresa Devon, his longtime girlfriend, known as the singer Terry Devon, in 1948. The couple had two daughters. [2]


Tito Burns died at home on 23 August 2010, of complications from prostate cancer, at the age of 89. [5]

Related Research Articles

Maynard Ferguson Canadian jazz musician and bandleader (1928–2006)

Walter Maynard Ferguson CM was a Canadian jazz trumpeter and bandleader. He came to prominence in Stan Kenton's orchestra before forming his own big band in 1957. He was noted for his bands, which often served as stepping stones for up-and-coming talent, his versatility on several instruments, and his ability to play in a high register.

Duet Musical composition or arrangement for two performers

A duet is a musical composition for two performers in which the performers have equal importance to the piece, often a composition involving two singers or two pianists. It differs from a harmony, as the performers take turns performing a solo section rather than performing simultaneously. A piece performed by two pianists performing together on the same piano is a "piano duet" or "piano four hands". A piece for two pianists performing together on separate pianos is a "piano duo".

John Taylor (jazz) British jazz pianist

John Taylor was a British jazz pianist, born in Manchester, England, who occasionally performed on the organ and the synthesizer.

Zoot Sims Musical artist

John Haley "Zoot" Sims was an American jazz saxophonist, playing mainly tenor but also alto saxophone. He first gained attention in the "Four Brothers" sax section of Woody Herman's big band, afterward enjoying a long solo career, often in partnership with fellow saxmen Gerry Mulligan and Al Cohn.

Sonny Stitt Musical artist

Edward Hammond Boatner Jr., known professionally as Sonny Stitt, was an American jazz saxophonist of the bebop/hard bop idiom. Known for his warm tone, he was one of the best-documented saxophonists of his generation, recording more than 100 albums. He was nicknamed the "Lone Wolf" by jazz critic Dan Morgenstern because of his relentless touring and devotion to jazz yet rarely worked with the same musicians for long. Stitt was sometimes viewed as a Charlie Parker mimic, especially earlier in his career, but gradually came to develop his own sound and style, particularly when performing on tenor saxophone and even occasionally baritone saxophone.

Bernard "Benny" Green was a British jazz saxophonist who was also known for his radio shows and books.

James Carter (musician) American jazz musician

James Carter is an American jazz musician. He is the cousin of jazz violinist Regina Carter.

Michael Garrick MBE was an English jazz pianist and composer, and a pioneer in mixing jazz with poetry recitations and in the use of jazz in large-scale choral works.

Charlie Rouse American saxophonist and flautist (1924–1988)

Charlie Rouse was an American hard bop tenor saxophonist and flautist. His career is marked by his collaboration with Thelonious Monk, which lasted for more than ten years.

John Russell Parnell was an English musician and musical director.

John (Johnny) Kerningham Sidney Scott was a jazz vocalist and tenor saxophonist. Scott was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and began his musical studies at the age of 15. After enlisting in the Army, he joined a band which entertained American troops in Europe. Subsequent to his discharge from the Army in the early '60s, Johnny moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he performed in a wide spectrum of settings for over 47 years.

Tommy Whittle Musical artist

Tommy Whittle was a British jazz saxophonist.

Victor "Vic" Ash was an English jazz saxophonist and clarinetist. He was of Jewish ancestry.

Victor Goines American jazz musician

Victor Louis Goines is a jazz saxophonist and clarinetist. From 2000 to 2007, he was director of the jazz program at Juilliard. He has been a member of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Wynton Marsalis Septet since 1993. Goines has served as the director of jazz studies and professor for the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University since 2008.

Roger Dawson Musical artist

Roger Dawson is a jazz percussionist, conga drummer, bandleader and jazz composer. He was a leading jazz and salsa disc jockey in the US and acknowledged as at the forefront of New York's salsa music explosion of the seventies and early eighties. He was the creator of the long running "Salsa Meets Jazz" concert series at New York's Village Gate club.

Kevin Jones is an American jazz percussionist and band leader. Jones's music is influenced by that of Cuba and Congo.

Tim Thornton is a double bassist based in London, UK, and a regular performer on the British jazz scene. He is the leader of the Tim Thornton Quartet.

Albon "Al" Timothy was a Trinidad and Tobago jazz and calypso musician and songwriter who played numerous instruments but was best known for his tenor saxophone playing. His most successful hit was Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me, written with Michael Julien, which reached number 3 in 1959 in the charts sung by Shirley Bassey.

Theresa "Terry" Devon was a British jazz singer. She worked as a hairdresser in her father's business but switched to singing after winning a crooning competition on Radio Luxembourg. She joined the Billy Thorburn orchestra and her first record was released in 1938. She was heard weekly on the BBC radio comedy programme Take It From Here. Devon later became a vocalist for the Tito Burns jazz Septet, developing the skill of scat singing. Burns and Devon married in November 1948. She stopped singing professionally and helped her husband to manage notable singers.

Anna Kristin Webber is a Brooklyn-based saxophonist, flutist, and composer of avant-garde jazz. A Guggenheim Award-winning composer, Webber has released a number of critically-acclaimed albums as leader or co-leader, and received accolades for her work as saxophonist, flutist, and arranger.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Baker, Richard Anthony (10 September 2010). "Tito Burns". The Stage. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Tito Burns". The Daily Telegraph. 5 September 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Leigh, Spencer (13 September 2010). "Tito Burns" . The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  4. Rubinstein, William D.; Jolles, Michael A.; Rubinstein, Hilary L., eds. (2011). The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 134. ISBN   9780230304666.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Fordham, John (3 September 2010). "Obituary: Tito Burns". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  6. "Tito Burns". The Times. London. 7 September 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2019.(subscription required)
  7. 1 2 Chilton, John (2004). Who's Who of British Jazz (2nd ed.). London: Continuum. p.  54. ISBN   9780826472342.
  8. Goode, Coleridge; Cotterrell, Roger (2014). Bass Lines: A Life in Jazz. London, England: Northway Books. p. 88. ISBN   978-0-9928222-1-7.
  9. "Tito Burns..." 3 June 2007. Archived from the original on 3 June 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  10. "Franklyn Boyd", The Independent , 23 May 2007
  11. "JOHN MCNALLY - THE QUIET SEARCHER interviewed in 2000 by Ray Norris". 8 October 2006. Archived from the original on 8 October 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  12. Douglas Martin "Dougie Millings, the Tailor for the Beatles", The New York Times, 8 October 2001