Lyttelton, Humphrey 1921–2008

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Lyttelton, Humphrey 1921–2008

(Humphrey Richard Adeane Lyttelton)


See index for CA sketch: Born May 23, 1921, in Eton, Buckinghamshire, England; died April 25, 2008, in London, England. Jazz trumpeter, bandleader, recording artist, radio broadcaster, journalist, and author. Lyttelton was a trumpeter with George Webb's Dixielanders in 1947. Six years later he headed his own band. Humphrey Lyttelton's Band toured England for decades, playing jazz that earned respect on both sides of the Atlantic and led to concert tours in Europe and the United States, as well as more than a dozen record albums. Lyttelton had a lifelong fascination with jazz, having taught himself to play the trumpet as a teenager, but it was only one of many talents that he shared with the world. He also trained as an artist at the Camberwell College of Art and worked as a cartoonist, later becoming a writer as well. When he began publishing his memoirs, an ongoing pursuit throughout his life, he illustrated the volumes himself. Lyttelton also hosted the radio programs Jazz Scene and Jazz Club; he presented The Best of Jazz for the British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 2 network for more than thirty years. His experience with the network led to what may have been his crowning achievement, especially for younger listeners. Since 1972 Lyttelton was the host of the unusual radio game show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. His congenial persona and fluency with racy double-entendres attracted a loyal following, even among the listeners who never heard his music. Lyttelton never stopped performing and recording music. In 1983 he created his own record label, Calligraph, as a hedge against the days when he could no longer perform in concert, but in 2000 he recorded "Life in a Glass House" with Jonny Greenwood and the rock band Radiohead, and a year later, at age eighty, he appeared with the group at an outdoor concert in Oxford. Lyttelton's multifaceted career earned him a Sony Gold Award for broadcasting in 1993 and a lifetime achievement award from the BBC Jazz Awards in 2001, among several other honors. In addition to at least five volumes of memoirs, Lyttelton was also the author of Basin Street to Harlem: Jazz Masters and Masterpieces, 1917-1930 (1978) and Enter the Giants (1981).



Lyttelton, Humphrey, I Play as I Please: The Memoirs of an Old Etonian Trumpeter, illustrated by the author, MacGibbon & Kee (London, England), 1954.

Lyttelton, Humphrey, Second Chorus, illustrated by the author, Robson Books (London, England), 1958.

Lyttelton, Humphrey, Take It from the Top: An Autobiographical Scrapbook, illustrated by the author, Robson Books (London, England), 1975.

Lyttelton, Humphrey, Why No Beethoven?, Robson Books (London, England), 1984.

Lyttelton, Humphrey, It Just Occurred to Me…: The Reminiscences and Thoughts of Chairman Humph, Robson Books (London, England), 2006.


Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2008, p. B9.

New York Times, April 28, 2008, p. A23.

Times (London, England), April 28, 2008, p. 47.


Humphrey Lyttelton Web site, (July 12, 2008).