Henry Mackenzie

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b. 15 February 1923, Edinburgh, Scotland, d. 2 September 2007, Carshalton, Surrey, England. Interested in music from a very early age, Mackenzie first played accordion before taking up saxophone. After…
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b. 15 February 1923, Edinburgh, Scotland, d. 2 September 2007, Carshalton, Surrey, England. Interested in music from a very early age, Mackenzie first played accordion before taking up saxophone. After leaving school he became an apprentice motor mechanic but meanwhile took music lessons. As the 40s began he played in local bands at clubs and dancehalls. In 1942, Mackenzie entered the Royal Army Service Corps, playing in an army band. At the end of the war, he resumed his career as a professional musician, landing a job with Tommy Sampson’s successful dance band in Leith. He was also with Dennis Hale, wherein a fellow sideman was Danny Moss, and had a brief spell with Paul Fenoulhet.

In late 1949 Mackenzie joined Ted Heath in his new band, remaining there into the late 60s playing alto saxophone and clarinet. During these years, the Heath band toured the UK many times and also made three visits to Australia. One of the band’s four American tours was headlined by Nat ‘King’ Cole. Although fraught with racial difficulties (Cole suffered a physical attack by a member of the audience), it was an artistic success. An American highlight was the band’s well-received concert at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. In addition to its live shows, the band made many radio broadcasts in the UK and released scores of LPs, most of which eventually reached CD. Mackenzie’s presence both as section man and featured soloist, was evident throughout this period. His best-known feature for Heath was ‘Send For Henry’.

From the late 60s, Mackenzie became a busy studio musician, playing on radio, television and recording sessions. His many gigs found him backing a wide variety of artists, including the Beatles, appearing on Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. He made a few jazz appearances amid many pop sessions, including teaming up with Kenny Baker and George Chisholm on a number of occasions. He also played on recording sessions led by Colin Busby, Frank Capp, Bill Le Sage and Vic Lewis. He also played on the Midnite Follies Orchestra’s 1981 release Jungle Nights In Harlem, and towards the end of his long career Mackenzie played with Don Lusher in the Ted Heath revival band.