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Stu Eaton

 

 

 
Stu Eaton

 

Late 1950's: Stu with 'Traps' Trappier (drums), Cecil Scott (clarinet) and in the background, the faint glitter of the glasses of Willie "The Lion" Smith.

 

 

Stu Eaton was one of the original members of clarinettist Sandy Brown's band.

On the 19th April 1927, Stuart Eaton was born in Joppa on the outskirts of Edinburgh, not far from pianist and drummer Stan Greig's home. At the age of five, he started at the Royal High School's preparatory school on the same day and in the same class as trombinist Bob Craig and trumpeter Al Fairweather.

Stu and Al remained firm friends for many years, generally playing around as boys do, until they made friends with Sandy Brown who was in the class below them at school. They would get together listening to records, often going into Edinburgh and hanging out in Methven Simpson or Alf Beckett's record shops.

Sandy, although hardly a serious young man, was very serious about his music, and in time the lads taught themselves to play instruments - Stu the trumpet, Al the trombone and Sandy the clarinet. Practising at various of their houses they would work out the chords and try to copy King Oliver and Louis Armstrong tunes. They never rehearsed at Sandy's house as Sandy's mother "was a terror"!

It was not long before Stan Greig joined them on drums and John Twiss and/or Norrie Anderson on banjo; and then Al decided to learn the trumpet - Stu taught him the fingering, "He was better than I was in about eight seconds", Stu said. Bob Craig took up the trombone.

After the end of the war, young men were required to sign up for two years' National Service in the armed forces and so in 1947, Stu and Bob left Edinburgh to join the Royal Air Force, and Al went into the Army. Two years later, with National Service over, Stu returned to Edinburgh to share a house in Morningside Place with friends Will Redpath and Dru Landells. The house quickly became a gathering point for beer drinking, listening to records and playing jazz.

As the friends entered the early 1950's, Al and Sandy left Edinburgh for London, and in 1954, Al waved Stu off from Charing Cross station as Stu headed for Canada and a career in advertising.

 

Stu Eaton

 

Late 1950's: Stu (far left), standing next to Ian Arnott, and with Art Hodes at the piano.

 

Stu continued to play his trumpet once a week for a while in Canada before starting to do "a two-trumpet thing with a Torontonian named Mike White that lasted for a year or two".

Gradually, work in advertising for the McCann company took up more and more of Stu's time, but it did enable him to make business trips to London where he would occasionally meet up with Sandy and Al. In the 1980's, the company seconded Stu to work first in New York where Al came to visit him, and then to the company's London office for two years where he regularly met up with Al and Stan Greig.

After that, Stu pretty much gave up playing until the early 2000's when he started to play the occasional session in Canada with "some guys my age!!".

Stu lives in Canada with his wife, Dorothy, but has now put his trumpet away.

Stu is not featured on any currently available recordings although he did record some private acetates with Sandy in the mid to late 1940's.

In 2012, Stu was going strong for his 85th birthday, celebrated with family and friends. His son Alex sends us this picture from the party with Stu in the centre:

 

Stu Eaton's 85th birthday

 

© Sandy Brown Jazz 2007-2017

© Photographs courtesy of Stu and Alex Eaton

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