1998. Courtesy of Majken Kruse

1998. Courtesy of Majken Kruse

There are a great many quotes and phrases attributed to John. Many feature his ‘colourful’ use of the English language, which was often shocking and humourous in equal measure as well as his sharp, dry sense of humour. Here are a few to get started. Please add any you know as comments below. There is a separate page for anecdotes about Jumbo.

“There is nothing in a trumpet to produce a sound. It will only make a noise if you drop it.”

“Think about your breathing!”

“It doesn’t matter how quietly you’re playing. If it’s with a bad sound, it’s always too loud.”

“It doesn’t matter how well you’re playing. If it’s in the wrong place, the conductor won’t like it.”

“Don’t f*** up the easy bits.”

“Keep It Simple Stupid.” (KISS)

“If you want spectacular playing, you’ve got to expect spectacular mistakes.”

“I’ve split notes which have stopped shows.”

On recounting playing with a particularly elderly choral society… “There I was, sat in front of 50 blue rinses and 500 miles of varicose veins.”

John used to say that he hated touring (tongue in cheek, I think) . He reckoned the only things he ever get out of it were “sore chops and a sore arse!”
–  Brendan Ball

“He couldn’t blow his nose never mind the trumpet…….but I put him back on the raft!”

“Take a day off…..don’t be a c*** all your life!”

“It’s all Shit or Bust!”

“Meddling amateurs!”

“You can’t play the trumpet with a sack on your back”

“You’re playing the trumpet, not saving lives!”

“Six steins of lager and some bread to throw please.”

“Never leave the coach until you see the first people to leave it coming back from the wrong direction.”

4 thoughts on “Quotes

  1. What a wonderful thing you’ve done here. Thankyou! John was an enormous influence on my life. Whilst our trumpet professor at NYO, we used to ‘source’ the biggest chair, or should I say throne, for the great man to hold court from in our sectionals. We always managed a spectacular throne too. Mike Kitching, Olly Preece, Martin Shaw heavily involved. Great memories. Great guys and a one in a million man. I miss him!

    • Thanks James. I’ve been meaning to put something together for years. The fantastic response I’ve had in these first two or three days, shows just how admired John was and how he evidently still lives on today.

  2. Hey James remember, at NYO, the cigar hidden behind his back when Ivy Dickson walked into the trumpet sectional one morning? “Did I get away with it boys?”
    He loved it when he turned up in the morning to a fanfare by the trumpets before he sat in his throne!

    Incredible character who’d do anything for you, spending hours helping, if you were willing to learn. I went to see him regularly for a lesson after he moved to Somerset. I’d book an hour or two of his time and turn up to find he’d put the best part of the day aside. We’d play a bit, talk a lot, have a coffee, play a bit more, talk a bit more, go off for lunch and come back to work some more. You always went away feeling better about your playing and better about yourself.

    To have him play at our my wedding (Clare also saw him for some playing advice) was an absolute honour. And to have the opportunity to work with him was a fantastic experience. A great man, great friend and mentor…….greatly missed!

    • Olie you are so right about the great man – those first year brass ensemble sessions on a Friday morning at the Academy and the amount of hours the rest of you had to watch Jumbo help this lowly horn player with his chops – bless him! His greeting to me was always “Hello Simes how’s your chops?” and his classic one liners – “Martin’s just had a sudden rush of sh*t to the brain” and “that sounds like the chord of the augmented f*ck lads” and “come on lads sh*t or bust!” will remained with me forever and always make me smile. Great, great man who played as beautifully as ever the day you married Clare. I can still hear that stunning Philharmonia Alpine Symphony he played in the late 80s.

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