Birthday Greetings

Birthday Greetings to Tony Haynes at 80

Tony Haynes, co-Founder of Grand Union Orchestra, has made a unique contribution to the music of this country. He is 80 today, 10 July 2021. We invited friends, colleagues and fans to celebrate the day by wishing him a very happy birthday:

Tony Haynes at Trinity Buoy Wharf in May 2019. Photo courtesy of Trinity Buoy Wharf.

Brian Abrahams: Dear Tony, words cannot describe your incredible and visionary contribution to music in the UK and world music. You have given immeasurable scope and opportunities to so many musicians from all over the world to perform with the monumental Grand Union Orchestra to celebrate the goodness of making music together, in all its genres and diversity. Your creative compositions and orchestrations, and your lifelong quest to tell the truth about historical world events through music is second to none. May you be blessed with many more wonderful years ahead my dear friend. Happy Birthday 

Naveen Arles: Tony. One of my proudest achievements is to be given the amount of time and courtesy you have shown me.  I hope you see from this celebration of you that the impact and worthiness of your leadership has been genuinely life changing not just for the musicians you directly work with but the many many ears that have heard the results of your labour and passion.  We have work yet to do my friend.  With love, Nav.

Chris Biscoe: Dear Tony, When we met, in 1975, your notion of a medium size band incorporating jazz, fusion music, contemporary relevant songs, and a determination to reach a broad audience, was very new and in some ways parallel to the path Mike Westbrook had set out on. Since then you’ve incorporated musical techniques and aesthetics from many different cultures, while giving free reign to improvisers, both from those cultures, and jazz soloists. In all this there has been a sense of an ever growing ‘family’ of diverse but like-minded performers. Long may it continue. Happy birthday, Chris

Brian Blain: Happy  80th Tony. It seems an eternity since the days of Red Brass and the subsequent tours of Grand Union. For me, I learned so much from our regular conversations and your brilliant analyses of the condition of what you termed vernacular music in your report to the Gulbenkian Foundation. But those heady political days subsided and you buckled down to actually dealing with racism with your magnificent multi racial groups of musicians and actors. Keep going Tony – ten more and you will still only be 90. Love and Best Wishes  Brian Blain

Joshua Brandler: If it were not for Tony Haynes and The Grand Union Orchestra – I would play an instrument; but I would not be a musician. Wishing Tony a Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns with love from Joshua.

Cristiano Castellitti: Dear Tony, wishing you the happiest of birthdays! I’m so grateful to know you and to have played a very small part in your enormous musical career. Happy 80! 🙂

Gunes Ceren: It’s  Gunes here. Here is my birthday video to Tony.  I know many musicians will wish happy birthday in English.  I wanted to wish him happy birthday in Turkish – I said “Happy birthday Tony. Stay healthy and stay with the music “

Paul Clarvis: Tony .. thankyou for creating frameworks where we can all come and play music .. 

it takes a lots of energy to be an instigator , something you have always

thrown yourself  into..

thankyou for all you have given to us and to music…

oh… and happy birthday , by the way

Jo Cole: I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tony and Grand Union Orchestra for the past two years,  it has been a real honour and absolutely great fun ! And that’s saying something given that 50% of it’s been during a pandemic ! It’s clear, Tony, that you touch everyone’s lives with your wonderful indomitable energy, talent, humour and passion for your work. It has been very inspiring watching you bringing talented musicians together, young and old, from so many diverse cultures, with such a spirit of celebration, invention and mutual respect – such a rich, creative process. Wishing you a Very Happy 80th Birthday Tony ! 

Josefina Cupido: Dearest Tony, I recall sitting in a pub in the early 1970’s (as one does), When for the first time you spoke of Music and Politics in the same passionate breath, for which I will always be eternally grateful, thank you. And remember Tony, If anyone has the audacity to ask a gentleman his age, you are 40 years old with 40 years experience!  Love you lots Brother. Josefina xx

Ros Davies: Wow doesn’t time fly! So many Grand Adventures over the years! It’s a privilege to belong to the GUO family! HAPPY BIRTHDAY to YOU! Lots of love from Ros

Claude Deppa: Tony is a composer who gives resurrection, by using true facilitators of the music that was suppressed by the colonials. And has grown into the beautiful family called The Grand Union Orchestra.   Great memories of all our musical journeys in Undream’d Shores  on the video here….

Jane Deppa: Thank you Tony for being the head of our Grand Union family and for inspiring our unique band of brothers and sisters for all these years.  Lots more adventures and mischief to come!

love Jane 

Undream’d Shores’ Hackney Empire, 2014

Lara Eidi: If Roald Dahl could somehow re-write the BFG and adapt it for a musical score within the visual vista of London, it’s hero would be Tony Haynes. I’ll never forget my time with the Grand Union Orchestra, and I am forever grateful for Tony’s vision ,compassion and profound depth as a person who truthfully has created some of the finest musical communities I have ever been part of. I wish you, Mr Haynes, the most wonderful birthday. May you continue to receive what you have given so many: joy, art, and beauty !

Louise Elliott: Happy birthday Tony Haynes. Thank you for the inspirational music, and the wonderful musical experiences you have given me.  Grand Union, and the exceptional team of musicians that you have brought together, have been a big part of my life for many years.  Amazing music, and good friends. Big respect for your creativity and artistic vision. I have learnt so much.

Jumoke Fashola: Tony is a legend! Way before it was trendy to embrace world music, Tony was making & creating space for artists of diverse backgrounds. Musically fearless, his contribution to the UK’s music & cultural landscape cannot be underestimated. Happy Birthday, Tony!

Steve Fox: Tony Haynes is a band & cult leader. His followers believe that salvation is attainable by performing musical rituals of his devising [Usually twice through on a show day!] Once in the cult they are his for life; some elderly members have been performing these rituals for decades and are not able to stop, even during the recent pandemic. They also indoctrinate young novices into “The Way of the Grand Union ” thus ensuring the continuation of his teachings into the future. Like all great cult leaders, he is mercurial, occasionally irascible and the cleverest man I know. It is a pleasure & privilege to be a member of the Grand Union cult: Happy birthday Tony!

Jelly Roll Soul” 1982, with Tony on sousaphone and featuring Tony Armatrading.  Photo courtesy of Grand Union Orchestra

Debbie Frame: Tony, hope your day is blessed with loved-ones and laughter, music and mayhem.  Happy birthday! From Debbie, Lizzie and all your friends at St John’s x

Andy Grappy: Dear Tony, you are such an inspiration, a passionate man, living out your convictions and helping us do the same. I feel grateful and honoured to be part of your journey. Happy Birthday my friend.

Val Harding: Many happy returns Tony. It is great to know you and share your vision of a multicultural world. Best wishes Val Harding

Chris Harrison: Happy 80th birthday, Tony. In what seems an increasingly divided world, your music has always been an inspiration – a model of collaborative endeavour, showing the way to fuse diverse elements together while at the same time giving everyone their voice. Enjoy your day, and I hope we can meet again for a drink & a chat before too long.

Gerry Hunt:  Tony Haynes is a phenomenal spirit in the world of music. For many decades, he has through his trail-blazing, genre busting, world/jazz music outfit, ‘The Grand Union Orchestra’, challenged the music establishment by breaking down the barriers that can artificially separate different cultures. With very little recognition, he has instigated musical and theatrical projects far ahead of their time only to find that often years later, others have received adulation for the same or often inferior ideas. I am proud to have been part of the orchestra for many years, to be part of the wonderful family of musicians and to have Tony as my friend and teacher. Arise Sir Tony of London Fields. He would probably refuse the invitation.

Shanti Jayasinha: Happy 80th Tony – you are a true visionary. What you have achieved has changed so many people’s lives for the better, countless musicians that have experienced your music, tens of thousands of audience members, community participants, school children; looking forward to continuing with this year’s Grand Union Summer School

Rumana Khair: Many happy & healthy returns Tony. It has been a pleasure being part of the wonderful diverse Grand Union Choir. With much respect. Rumana  

Collaboration with SAA at Leeds College of Music. Photo courtesy of Grand Union Orchestra

Yousef Khan: May you have all the joy your heart can hold,

All the smiles a day can bring,

All the blessings a life can unfold,

May you have God’s best in everything.

Wishing u a Happy Birthday

Yousuf and Family

Tony Kofi:  Tony Haynes, wow what can I say about him? He’s like my musical Father/Guru who inspired me from the moment we met, I was actually quite intrigued and intimidated by vast musical knowledge of many cultures and rhythms, but that soon changed when I knew that I wasn’t just their to play but was also there to learn and grow. He’s given many musicians a platform to grow and hone the skills. Apart from us having an amazing spiritual connection, we share the same name, the same birthday (10th July) we are both unapologetically passionate about music, and unbeknown to me didn’t know that Tony studied at University in the 1960’s in my birth town of Nottingham before I was born and lived there for a while as a theater 🎭 composer, so it turns out that when I was recently asked by Nottingham University for someone to give me a reference for being nominated for an honorary professorship I asked Tony Haynes not knowing that he’d studied there, now I’ve just found out that on 1st August 2021 I will be awarded an honorary professorship for services to music. Our serendipitous connection is way too close to be called a coincidence or chance. I love Tony as a man and a musician/composer who stands his ground and never compromises what he wants to say musically. I’m completely inspired by him and have learnt so much from him since 1995 when he invited me to join the Grand Union Orchestra. Every year we call each other to wish us happy birthday, he always beats me to it and always makes a playful joke that he called me first, in the last two decades I’ve only beaten him to that phone call once, talk about the man being on the case, although I’m traveling on my birthday I will make a point to call and wish him many happy returns, well not if he beats me to it, the game is afoot. Happy birthday to a living legend, Tony Haynes

Andres Lafone: Tony, you are courageous, beautifully creative, and an inspiration to young and old. Thank you

Richard Mallett: Duke Ellington said “The wise musicians are those who play what they can master”.
Tony Haynes is indeed a master of his own unique sound world celebrating diversity through music. 
Keep joining the dots Tony.
Happy Birthday, Richard Mallett

Catherine Mummery: Happy to “Raise the Banner High” in celebration of your 80th Birthday, Tony. 80 on stage would make it a modest Grand Union Orchestra participatory show. Looking forward to your 100th and 100 plus on stage all singing “If Music Could...”

Paul Nieman: Dear Tony, Here’s wishing you a very happy 80th birthday.  How about a Birthday rehearsal?  I remember those rehearsals in a big draughty warehouse space in Clerkenwell.  Is that right or am I making it up?  I also recall your compositions and the really nice trombone parts you wrote.  Also the camaraderie within that big bunch of talented people.  I still have the first Red Brass Album or at least a photo of it.

Well all I can say is thank you Tony – I know you continued to do so many more things /projects since those days. To a great composer and motivator. Very best – Paul

Mahesh Parkar: Happy Birthday Tony and I hope you have the amazing day you deserve. You are an incredible musician with such a drive and purpose. This is clear to see with all you have achieved within music. You are so sensitive and aware of the many issues that there are in the world, and you speak on them with such care and consideration. I have learnt so much from you. You are such an inspiration and I owe you so much for the opportunities you’ve given me as well as the guidance which you’ve provided. Enjoy your special day!

Lucy Rahman: Dear Tony, It’s been wonderful to know you for such a long time!!. You are a great Composer & good organiser, above all you are a great person!  Keep up your amazing work! Lots of love on your birthday! Regards🙏 Lucy

Kevin Robinson:

Richard Scott: A very happy 80th Tony from Newcastle upon Tyne. I have been honoured to have worked with you all these years. You have supported, believed, inspired and challenged me to be a better musician, as you still do with so many, by producing and writing such great music. I am so grateful to be a part of the Grand Union family and your friend. 

Best wishes and a song for you.

Baluji Shrivastav OBE:  Dear Tony, you have been an inspiration since we met 25 years ago. You have been a very great teacher and director specially for me because I come from Indian background and you have taught me how to play with Jazz Music and different genres of music . No words can express, so simply thanks –  thank you very much for this lovely friendship. Have a fantastic birthday and may you have many more joyful days.

Best wishes from Baluji and Linda

Sheelah Sloane: A very Happy 80th Birthday Tony!  Hope you will be celebrating in style!

Thank you so much for all the great times we shared on tour in 1983 and beyond, and for giving me the opportunity to be your Administrator in 1986 and the numerous occasions as Project Manager since then.

May you still have many happy years at the helm of the Grand Union! 

Warmest wishes, Sheelah 

Tim Smart: Dear Tony,  Huge congratulations and a very very happy birthday! I was lucky enough to meet you almost exactly 20 years ago, on a Grand Union Orchestra project in Nottingham, and it has been an honour to be involved in a number of projects with that magnificent organisation. Your boundless vision, energy and dedication to music, and to bringing people and peoples together to explore and celebrate our shared humanity, is an inspiration to all. Very much hope to see you sometime soon. Much love Tim Smart

Chris Smith: Tony: Here’s wishing you all the VERY best for your eightieth birthday.  Your work over the decades, as a composer and musician, above all as the genius behind the Grand Union Orchestra, has lit up the world.  You’ve brought musicians together from everywhere, you’ve made diversity into an integral component of art, and you’ve created the most wonderful jazz work in the process.  Thank you for giving us so much magic.

Paul Sparrow: Congratulations to Tony for his music and the comradeship of all the musicians who have been members over the years. My second family. (Paul Sparrow, Grand Union sound engineer since 1982.)

  ‘Undream’d Shores’ Hackney Empire Autumn 2014 Photo credit : Terry Braun

Jay Visvadeva: Perhaps amongst the staggering number of great works by Tony is the production of Undream’d Shores, which was presented at Hackney Empire some years ago. He had brought over 125 amateur as well as 25 master musicians together to share the stories of migration.

There were quite a few Indian musicians in the orchestra amongst them namely Yousaf Ai Ali Khan, an outstanding tabla player from Bangladesh.

Throughout his creative visualisation, Tony was always careful, when adhering to the authenticity of the ragas and talas, thanks to his many years of association with Pandit Sharda Sahai, Ustad Shahibdat Khan and Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty.

I extend all my good wishes to Tony Haynes on reaching this important milestone.

Oliver Weindling: Tony Haynes is, and hopefully will remain for some time to come, a key person in helping music thrive and musicians develop. His own projects have always been imaginative and educational. And thought-provoking. But also his hard work in helping young musicians develop as broad-minded and set an example for so many years. We have, at the Vortex, always been delighted to host Grand Union Orchestra in different ways. Happy birthday!

Zhu  Xiao Meng: Long live your happiness!

This article has been scrupulously, thoughtfully and indefatigably planned and prepared by Jane Mann. We would also like to thank all the contributors, and also – especially – Jo Cole and Jane Deppa for their invaluable help.

LINKS: A brief history of Grand Union Orchestra

2 replies »

  1. Tony from the first moment we met at Ludus Dance company many moons ago in Lancaster we got on both as friends and collaborators. Even now after all those years I can pick up the phone to you (as we don’t see enough of each other these days) and we carry on as if I only saw you last week. I’ve always admired your work and will never forget how you blew my mind with your beautiful and amazing orchestrations for the fab collaboration with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Grand Union Orchestra a few years back. It has and always will be a joy to work with you my friend. Happy Birthday Tony. Here’s to many more years of musical invention from that wonderful musical mind and heart of yours!! Love Dave A

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