Billy Brook : Bass Trombone


Following a power cut in 1962 , I made my first appearance in July 1963. My first claim to fame was being runner up in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner 'Ugliest Baby in the Universe' competition (won, as I discovered at a later date by Graham Batley). A spell of five years of hyperactivity followed , before a specialist suggested I needed something to channel my energy. The Carlsberg Special Brew therapy worked for a few months but the neighbours were complaining about my singing in the early hours.

My mother saw a television programme in which children with 'disorders' were given musical instruments to calm them down. I was over the moon to be given a trombone. I wasn't as happy three weeks later when I finally learned I was supposed to blow it , not use it as a weapon.

After going through six music teachers in six weeks (two are still sectioned after thirty years , the other four , I still receive hate mail from), I was encouraged by seeing the great George Chisholm play (?) the trombone on the Sooty show. From then on there was no stopping me.

Within four years I had taken an exam and was playing with Huddersfield Youth Brass Ensemble on fifteenth trombone. A brief foray into the heady world of treble clef came to nothing and I realised if I was going to survive in the cut-throat world of brass banding , I needed to specialise.

By the time I was thirteen, I realised that bass trombone had an important role to play. I could make loud pieces of music louder and rougher and I could make quiet , sensitive , reflective music……….louder and rougher. There was nothing more enjoyable than making Gymnopedie No 1 by Erik Satie sound like a farting contest in a tin bath.

The next five years passed in a blur (due to me re-discovering full fat lager, pies and curry). Playing in a youth band was limiting my drinking and in 1984 a twist of fate changed my life forever.

It was a grim evening in September and a knock on the door revealed a very dodgy looking delegation from the Lindley band. Thirty seconds of heavy contractual negotiations ensued; transcribed thus…….

Them: 'Billy Brook?'
Me: 'Who wants to know?' (it could have been the police)
Them: 'Lindley Band'
Me: 'What do you want?'
Them: 'You to come and have a blow'
Me: What's in it for me?'
Them: 'Beer, curry and free lard'
Me: 'OK'

Lindley were a second section band when I joined. When I was sacked for conductor abuse in 1992 , we had been in the top section for five years. By this time, work, women, drink and general malaise were taking their toll and I gave up banding completely. I kept my lip and appalling tone up to scratch by playing for orchestras and other non-musical groups.

In 1999 some so called friends and former playing (?) colleagues decided to start a band from scratch. They promised to stop poisoning my dog and ringing me at four in the morning if I joined.

The band was imaginatively called 'Pennine Brass' (a lot of late nights went into that one, eh lads?) and as I was looking for any excuse to get out of the house, I joined.

Two and a half years later I'm still joined, giving the band subtle tones, nuances and smells they couldn't get anywhere else.

The last two years have been a blur of doing rather well. Pennine are now an excellent band with an alternative sense of humour and lots of dodgy members and are looking forward to bringing enlightenment to the Championship section in 2002.


Age - 38
Mental Age - 11
Height - 6' 4''
Weight - Fat
Married - to Fran from Essex.
Children - Plenty (no reasonable offers refused)
Job - Sales Engineer for a major US filtration company.
Food - Curry, lard, pies, anything with large amounts of cholesterol
Drink - Full fat alcohol
Hobbies outside banding - Cricket, Reading, Tenor trombone baiting, Intestinal gas production

Motto - 'I drink therefore am I ?'