Island Life Magazine Ltd October/November 2011 - Page 123

on to pursue his session career. However, when Syd announced he was going to retire, Chris was approached to take over the band, and did so. Subsequently Chris Dean’s 15-piece Syd Lawrence Orchestra, with vocalist Angie Mills, has been voted best big band in the country for the past 13 years. Despite his 100 or so appearances each year with the band, Chris still records fairly regularly and among his TV credits music has been ‘Surprise, Surprise’, ‘New Faces’, ‘Barrymore’ and Royal Variety performances. He said: “Since taking over I have worked to keep the band very similar to the way it was under Syd, because one of the things I enjoyed when I worked under him was how he maintained such a high standard. He made you feel as if you were a part of something special. Before he died I promised him I would try to maintain those standards, and arrange the music the way he arranged it, but also moved things on as well.” The band continues to go from strength to strength and has the largest big band society in the world. When Chris is not at the helm he can often be seen at Brading Haven Yacht Club performing for members as part of a quartet. “We have some nice concert evenings, and at the same time raise money for the Yacht Club. It is a good social occasion, and I have a lot of friends there. As for sailing I am a naughty sailor, because I have what is generally called a ‘stink pot’ - a motor boat,” smiled Chris. “But I do spend a lot of time in Bembridge because I love the Island, and feel very relaxed every time I visit.” Top left: Chris Dean who has maintained the style and sound of the famous Syd Lawrence Orches