Mick Unthank
Reed Musician, Lancaster/Kendal


Mike Unthank started playing the piano when he was 4 years old.   This  basic musical knowledge equipped him with a head start when he bought a clarinet at the age of 15 years.  Why did he do that?  Because his friend Trevor was already playing the clarinet and the girls followed him around.  Trevor went to Canada, but, to his chagrin, the girls did not follow Mike around.   However, he continued to play his clarinet.

He joined the electricity board, as an apprentice, when he was 16, and retired as first engineer, responsible for planning and design.  He had a brief break from the electricity board when he was in the RAF from 1957-59 when he was looking after airfield lighting at Cranwell. However he did get to play in the RAF band at that time.

The first band he played in was Alan Duckles' band, in Lancaster, when they were both teenagers.  He played in Lancaster until 1970 when he met John Sideau and worked in the New Hall Jazz Band.  After that he joined Les Bull’s Festival Band and was with them for 13 years playing baritone sax as well as clarinet. (he sang as well, but struggled to remember the words….).  With Les he was delighted to play alongside John Barnes, the late Campbell Burnap, John Crocker and Roy Williams.

Three or four years ago Dave Savill (who came from the South, playing with John Barnes, Roy Williams et al) formed the Jubilee Jazz Band  Mike has been playing with them ever since.

But that’s not all  he currently also plays with Dan Riley’s different bands, and can be seen regularly at the John O’Gaunt in Lancaster most Sundays. 

Musician friends of mine tell me Mike is a natural band musician  listening to others in the group.   One of the highlights of his career was playing in a marching band in Bourbon Street in New Orleans  and having the photo on the front page of the local rag.  

Mike now lives in Kendal. He has a daughter, Alison, and is grandfather to two girls and a boy.  He also has a son John.

31 May 2008 - Penny Vingoe  


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