Jimmy Currie – Jazz Guitarist
Jimmy and I were booked to do the Helen Shapiro Tour for Arthur Howes, Can you imagine my excitement when I discovered that the Guitar-player in Helen’s Band (The Red Price Orchestra) was Jimmy Currie? I would sit next to him on the Tour-Coach and ply him with endless questions, but I got the distinct impression that he was pretty ‘through’ with that period in his life! I got the message eventually, and stopped pestering him just before he reached the point of trying to avoid me! He still had that Sunburst Gibson ES-175C (I managed to play it myself a couple of times – a dream come true!) Bear in mind that this was only a year or 2 after he’d left Lonnie Donegan. My favourite Jimmy Currie Tracks? Leadbelly’s ‘Whoa Buck’ & ‘I’m just a Rollin’ Stone’. A fine player who had the misfortune to follow Denny Wright into the LD Band – that would have been tough for anyone. Interesting how he felt about his time with Lonnie Donegan; too much ‘at odds’ with his preference for Jazz? Jimmy was certainly a high-profile Musician in ‘57-’58, holding down what was arguably the most important Lead Guitar ‘chair’ in British Music.
Mick Mulligan & His Band (Touring)
Leader—Cornet: Mick Mulligan; Trombone: Dave Keir. Clarinet: James Livesey. Baritone Sax: Paul Simpson. Piano: Ian Pearce. Guitar: Jimmy Currie Bass: Pat Malloy. Drums: Stan Bellwood. Vocals: George Melly, Jo Lennard, Michael Lawrence. Staff Arrangers: Jimmy Currie, Mick Mulligan.
Grimshaw is a “SS De-Luxe” so-called because of its Short Scale. It was hand made by Emile Grimshaw and Son had its own unique style of Tremolo/Vibrato Arm and were normally made to order. All the Switches were on a plate in the lower Bout and the Pick-up selection was by a rotary Knob. Grimshaw Guitars were considered to be the nearest to Gibson at the time as Gibson weren’t easy to get hold of. Featured teardrop Sound Holes.
Tony Crombie and his Rockets. Jimmy Currie playing SS Deluxe 1957. Short-lived Bill Haley & the Comets Style Group cashing in on the craze.
Jimmy Currie with Lonnie Donegan – provided much more attack…the modern Lead Guitar style. Les Bennetts came along too late, Denny Wright worked with the tradition of amplified Archtop Guitar with its more Acoustic feel, the latter 2 strapped on the Gibsons and rocked out a little more…
Vintage Sunburst Gibson ES-175C
Later the ES175D had 2 Pick-ups and was used at sometime by just about every Jazz Guitarist. Two ’57 Classic Humbuckers translate the body’s natural resonance into haunting Jazz Tones or searing distorted Leads.
The Gibson ES-175C Electric Guitar is a legendary design. It was also the 1st Gibson Electric to feature a stylish Florentine Cutaway. Its 1st incarnation had 1 single-coil Pick-up (a P90 in the neck position, and a carved Rosewood Bridge.
The Gibson ES-175 debuted in 1949. With a comfortable body size and stylish pointed cutaway, it quickly became the most popular Guitar of the Jazz world. The Gibson ES-175 has a plain laminated maple Top, Curly laminated maple back and rims. A 1-piece mahogany Neck with bound Rosewood Fingerboard.
The 175 Neck profile is very comfortable while the bound top & back, plus vintage Tulip Tuners, chrome hardware and pearl split parallelogram Inlays make this Guitar a comfort to play & watch. The Gibson ES-175 provides the tone and the look that inspires musicians in Blues, Rock & Jazz. Came with Gibson black levant hardshell Case.
Jimmy retired to the Algarve late 1979 and set up ” The Soul Agency” organizing Jazz Gigs around the Algarve always including himself on Lead Guitar (still the long-standing Gibson ES-175C sunburst). He eventually gave up playing around 2004 – old age catching up and consequentially slowing him down in his last few years! He is survived by his wife of 51 years – Maria, Scott, his son and his grandson Victor. He passed away peacefully on the 12th May 2009 – aged 80 at Faro Hospital – Algarve, Portugal.
Obituary: Remembering Jimmy Currie
Talented Musician, true Gentleman & Algarve Resident, Jimmy Currie died on 12th May 12th 2009
Originally from Edinburgh, his remarkable musical career began as a Guitarist in London in the 1950’s. Playing in Jazz Clubs like No.1 Baker Street & Ronnie Scott’s, he went on to perform with Lonnie Donegan, George Melly, The 3 Monarchs & Val Doonican. He toured North America & South Africa with stars such as Shirley Bassey, Acker Bilk & Judy Garland and on 3 occasions played at the Royal Command Performance. For 3 consecutive years the New Musical Express acclaimed him as the UK’s top Guitarist and as a Composer he had Chart-topping success with ‘Jack of Diamonds’, ‘I’m just a Rolling Stone’ and the Tom Jones hit, ‘Never gonna fall in love again’, later recorded by Elvis Presley. Jimmy and his wife Maria 1st came to the Algarve in the 1980s and eventually bought a permanent home here. They continued to keep in touch with their musical contacts in the UK encouraging friends such as Acker Bilk & Ronnie Scott to play with Jimmy at Algarve night spots. In the year 2000, he returned by invitation to Scotland to appear at the Edinburgh Festival. More recently his Performances have been enjoyed backing the talented Portuguese singer, Manuela Lopes. Although Jimmy’s career was impressive those who knew him well will best recall his warm personality and sense of humour. A great listener and conversationalist he was modest about his own achievements and never lost sight of his personal & professional good fortune. He will be greatly missed by Maria and their son, Scott.