Eddie Calvert, Albert Edward “Eddie” Calvert (15 March 1922 – 7 August 1978) was an English trumpeter, who enjoyed his greatest successes in the 1950s. Eddie Calvert had his first United Kingdom, number one instrumental single in 1954, with “Oh Mein Papa”.
Eddie Calvert was born in Preston, Lancashire, England, and grew up in a family where the music of his local brass band featured highly. He was soon able to play a variety of instruments, and he was most accomplished on the trumpet. After World War II he graduated from playing as an amateur in brass bands to professional engagements with popular dance orchestras of the day, including Geraldo’s plus Billy Ternet, and he soon became renowned for the virtuosity of his performances. Following his exposure on television with the Stanley Black Orchestra, an enthusiastic announcer introduced him as the ‘Man With The Golden Trumpet’ – an apt description that remained with him for the rest of his musical career.
Calvert’s style was unusually individualistic, and he became a familiar musician on BBC Radio and TV during the 1950s. He first recorded for Melodisc, ca 1949-1951 before he started to record for the Columbia label and his records included two UK number ones, “Oh Mein Papa” and, more than a year later, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White”. He was the first British instrumentalist to achieve two number ones. “Oh Mein Papa” which also sold well in the United States, topped the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks (then a UK chart record), and he received the first gold disc awarded for a UK instrumental track.
Further chart entries were “John And Julie”, taken from the soundtrack of the movie John and Juliet, and “Mandy”, his last major hit. Other recordings included “Stranger In Paradise” (1955), “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1956) and “Jealousy” (1960). Calvert also co-wrote “My Son, My Son” in 1954 – a chart-topper for Vera Lynn. His theme to the film, The Man with the Golden Arm was banned by the BBC. Despite the fact that that this was an instrumental disc, a BBC spokesman said “The ban is due to its connection with a film about drugs”.
In 1960 he was invited by orchestra leader, Norrie Paramor and their mutual friends Ruby Murray and Michael Holliday to record an extended-play single with four tracks. Eddie Calvert played Silent Night and on another track he, Murray and Holliday teamed up in a version of Good Luck, Good Health, God Bless You. The single, released by Columbia Records achieved some success in Britain but was more popular in Australia and South Africa.
As music began to change in the 1960s with the worldwide popularity of groups like The Beatles and the rock n’ roll genre, Calvert’s musical renditions became less popular among record buyers. By 1968 Eddie Calvert had become disillusioned with life under the Labour government of Harold Wilson and was especially critical of London’s policy towards Rhodesia. After a world tour that included several stops in Africa, he left the UK, making South Africa his home. He continued to perform there, and was a regular visitor to Rhodesia. He continued to record for the local market and performed a version of “Amazing Grace”, retitled “Amazing Race” specially adapted for Rhodesia.
On the 7 August 1978, Calvert collapsed and died of a heart attack in the bathroom of his home in Rivonia, Johannesburg. He was fifty-six years old.