James Last Biography

Hans Last, 17 April 1929, Bremen, Germany. This phenomenally successful band leader and arranger brought up to date the tradition of big band arrangements for current pop hits, and has been rewarded with worldwide sales in excess of 50 million copies. Trained as a bass player, in 1946 he joined Hans-Gunther Oesterreich’s Radio Bremen Dance Orchestra. Two years later he was leading the Becker-Last Ensemble. When that folded in 1955 Last worked as an arranger for radio stations and for Polydor Records. There he worked with Caterina Valente, Freddy Quinn and band leader Helmut Zacharias, and in 1965 released Non-Stop Dancing. Blending together well-known tunes with a jaunty dance beat, this was the first of 20 volumes that helped make Last a star across Europe by the mid-80s. Hansi, as he was known to his fans, varied the formula in several other ways. He took material from different musical genres (classics, country, Beatles, Latin), from various countries (Ireland, Russia, Switzerland, Scotland) and he added guest artists. Among these were bossa nova singer Astrud Gilberto (Plus 1987) and pianist Richard Clayderman (Together At Last 1991). One ‘added attraction’ to his party sets is the technique Last employs of ‘non-stop’ atmosphere by incorporating claps, cheers and laughter between each segueing track. Relying on albums and tours for his success, Last had only one hit single in the USA and the UK, ‘The Seduction’, the theme from the 1980 Richard Gere movie, American Gigolo.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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