End of the summer wine

We are sorry to report the loss of the harmonica player Harry Pitch aged 90 who we filmed a few years ago, he had been ill for a few months. Inspired to take up the instrument by Larry Adler, he learnt to play in the numerous local Harmonica Bands. Aged 12 Pitch then won the All Britain Harmonica Band Championship and got to meet Adler himself who presented him with the best soloist award. Former band mate Ron Goodwin grabbed him to play ‘Colonel Bogey’ in the memorable scene as the soldiers marched into captivity in the film ‘Bridge Over The River Kwai’ and from then on Pitch’s career never looked back, recording numerous sessions for EMI with the likes of Frank Ifield, John Leyton, Cliff Richards, Kiki Dee & Dusty Springfield at Abbey Road Studios. It was there that a keen John Lennon sought harmonica tips from the master for a new song they wanted to record called ‘Love Me Do’.

In 1970 music publisher Stephen James had an American song that he believed could be a hit called ‘Groovin’ With Mr Bloe’. Having cut an unsatisfactory version with Elton John on piano it was re-recorded by Zac Lawrence with Harry Pitch on harmonica and this version reached #2 in the British charts. It was followed by an album in the same musical style.

The opening sequence to the hit BBC series ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’ was recorded live by Pitch for every episode, causing him eventually to briefly give up the instrument due to the stress of it all. But BBC producer Alan Bell said ‘Nobody can play that tune with the same degree of feeling that you can’.

Farewell Mr Perfect Pitch