James Last

James Last

James Last (born Hans Last on April 17, 1929 in Bremen) is a German composer and big band leader.


Last learned to play the piano as a child, then switched to double bass as a teenager. At 14 he was entered in the Bückeburg "Military Music School" of the German Wehrmacht. 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.


James 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 9 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 sixties through the early seventies. 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 England, where he had 52 hit albums between 1967 and 1986, which made him second only to Elvis Presley in charting recordsFact|date=February 2007—he has only had two hit singles with “The Seduction,” the theme from "American Gigolo" (1980), and “Biscaya” from the album "Biscaya." The song "The Lonely Shepherd", written by Last and performed by Zamfir and the James Last Orchestra, was featured in the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's film Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003). [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0489904/]

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 songs Elizabethan Serenade and Music from Across the Way (recorded by Andy Williams in 1972) are melodies with a classical feeling and were worldwide hits.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.Fact|date=February 2007

Personal life

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


ee also

*James Last Orchestra
*List of best selling music artists

External links

* [http://www.jameslast.com/en/ Official website]
* [http://www.leftlion.co.uk/articles.cfm/id/1829 Interview with James in LeftLion Magazine 2007]

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