Rockingham Brass Band has had the privilege of welcoming new and old faces a-like to the group. One such face is our new B Flat Bass Player John Grayson,
“I started playing Eb Tenor Horn when I was 13 years old and I went on to play G Bass Trombone and Eb and Bb Bass with Loxley Methodist Silver band. From there I moved on to play with Stannington Community Association band on Eb Bass for a short time until it folded. Then came a move to Stannington Brass Band on Bb Bass. The Bb Bass was to become the instrument which I have played ever since.
I went to help out Ecclesfield Silver Prize Band playing under the leadership of cornet virtuoso Alan Exley, then soon after I was asked to join. In 1978 we became the 4th section National Champions of Great Britain and that’s where I met the great Raymond Layte who was the band’s Solo Euphonium player.
At around that time I went to help Woodhouse Prize Band out where I met Jeannette who was playing Flugel Horn with the band. In 1983 we got married and I have been playing with Woodhouse Band ever since.
I had a phone call from a player in Barrow Colliery Band, now Barnsley brass, asking me to help them out on Radio Sheffield Bold as Brass, which I did and finished up playing for them for 10 years under Conductors like Steve Sykes, Ray Farr, Richard Evans plus many more top class conductors.
From Barrow Band I moved to Chapeltown Silver Band where I was Chairman for a number of years gaining Championship status with the band. My next move took me to The Stocksbridge Band for a couple of years, once again playing under some of the very best conductors.
I then moved back to Stannington Band for a number of years playing under Derek Renshaw and other great conductors. We became 2nd section National Champions of Great Britain 2016 under Derek.
After a few years I left and went to play for Yorkshire Imperial David Urquhart Travel Band under various excellent conductors including Russell Gray. After 18 months I left and joined Unite the Union Band which my eldest daughter Gemma plays for, and went on to win various contests including, the Yorkshire Area 1st Section Champions 2020, British Open Spring Festival (Senior Trophy) 2022.”
John expressed his excitement at joining the band but he did have one request that he hoped the band would be able to fulfil - to play the bass that was once belonged to the late Raymond Layte.
Ray was a beloved long-standing member of the band, who sadly passed away in July 2021. He was a pillar of the brass banding community and a great many people expressed their sadness and shock at the loss of this genuine man. John talked about how much he looked up to Ray and about the last time he had the privilege of playing along side him:
“When I was playing with Yorkshire Imperial band I found they had a Veterans Brass Band and asked if I could join. We meet on Tuesday mornings, and just before Covid-19 raised its head we organised a concert and as Ray Layte had been a member of Yorkshire Imperial Band I contacted him to see if he would come and help me out at the concert.
However, we never managed the concert because of Covid-19. Ray did make the rehearsal and I felt privileged to sit next to him, and I believe that was the last time he played. Ray was a true gentleman and bandsman, and it was my greatest pleasure to call him a friend. We go back along way together and have shared many great times.
I am really looking forward to playing the Bb Bass played by Ray Layte, and hopefully there are plenty of right notes left in it! Rockingham band have had his name engraved on the bell of the bass, alongside having it restored back to the original standard apart from it is now silver, rather than it being lacquered when Ray played it.
I am looking forward to the future playing under the conductor Adam Whittle and the Rockingham Band.”
We showed the photos of the restored B-flat Bass to Ray’s wife Cynthia, who was overjoyed at seeing the bass back to it’s full glory and it’s memorial engraving to a man who was always there:
“The bass looks absolutely amazing and a very good player has taken Raymond’s place. Ray loved going to the band, he thoroughly enjoyed music and he made lots of friends, it really was his Band family.
He would never miss a performance and when he was playing with the IMPs, I had just had our first baby. He came to see us all dressed in his band uniform ready for off!
We all loved listening to the band it was part of our lives and we enjoyed it. He loved banding, it was his life.”
Welcome to the band John Grayson, we are overjoyed to have you, and thank you for helping to bring Ray back to us through playing his beloved bass.