Royal Air Force Squadronaires RAF

Royal Air Force Squadronaires

Musical Director: Corporal Andy Mears
Band Sergeant: Chief Technician Andy Rigby

The Royal Air Force Squadronaires is one of the United Kingdom’s finest big bands, with a worldwide reputation for musical excellence. The origins of the Squadronaires can be traced back to 1939 when many of London’s professional musicians were recruited into the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. Amongst these iconic musicians were trombonist George Chisolm, vocalist Jimmy Miller, and clarinetist Harry Lewis who later married Forces’ Sweetheart (Dame) Vera Lynn.

Royal Air Force Squadronaires RAF

The current trombone section of the RAF Squadronaires with lead trombone Cpl Jonathan Hill far right (Feb 17)

The Squadronaires gained a reputation for versatility and flair, and soon developed a distinctive style that rivalled many American bands. The Band received great acclaim following many of their early broadcasts and recordings,

“…the greatest dance band performance that has ever been broadcast this side of the Atlantic.”

Melody Maker, 1941

Royal Air Force Squadronaires RAF

RAF Squadronaires saxophones with the Band’s Musical Leader and lead alto Cpl Andy Mears, 2nd from right (Feb 17).

The unique sound of the Squadronaires is ever present and the Band still often perform their signature tunes There’s Something in the Air and South Rampart Street Parade which were made famous by the group in the early days. In 2010 the Squads reached the top ten in the UK’s album chart with In the Mood, recorded for Decca 69 years after first working with the esteemed record label. The Squadronaires continue to be the only military ensemble to have performed at the world famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London and make regular television appearances, including the Royal British Legion’s annual Festival of Remembrance which has featured the Squadronaires in recent years performing with stars such as Will Young (2004), Russell Watson (2008), Sir Cliff Richard (2012) and Alexander Armstrong (2016).

Royal Air Force Squadronaire RAF

The current trumpet section with lead trumpet Cpl Andrew Lofthouse 2nd from left (Feb 2017).

Alongside performances at jazz festivals and fundraising concerts, the Squads have provided musical support at Military Tattoos in Edinburgh, Windsor and Basel (Switzerland), as well as State Events and Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. In 2014 the Band released the album All Present and Correct which features solos by every member of the group, but more recently collaborated again with Decca to feature on the Vera Lynn 100album, accompanying the original recording of Dame Vera’s voice on the timeless song Yours. Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday celebrations also featured the RAF Squadronaires as the stage band for a tribute concert at the London Palladium where a plethora of stars from stage and screen joined them to pay homage to the great artist.

Alongside performances at jazz festivals and fundraising concerts, the Squadronaires provide musical support at Military Tattoos around the world as well as State Events and Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace.

The RAF Squadronaires can be booked for events via the RAFMS Engagements Coordinator. To find out more about concert packages, please click here.

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