James Last

German composer and big band leader Hans Last, also known as Hansi, was born in Bremen on 17 April 1929. He began playing the piano at nine, before having any lessons, and switched to double bass in his teens. At military music school he also learned to play various brass instruments, including the tuba.

His first job was with the Radio Bremen Dance Orchestra, and then he was leader of the Last-Becker Ensemble for seven years. He moved on to a job as in-house arranger for Polydor Records.

Last became well-known in Germany and the UK for his many successful albums of happy arrangements of a wide variety of well-known tunes, usually set to a dance beat and often with heavy bass and brass lines. These included nine notorious Classics Up To Date albums, made in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, with arrangements usually featuring strings, wordless chorus and a beat.

Nicknamed the 'King of Corn', James Last also had his own TV show, and he toured for nearly fifty years, until 26 April 2015, dying just a few weeks later in Florida, USA, on 9 June 2015, aged eighty-six.