About Andy Prior

As a child, Andy Prior would listen to his favourite albums of Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra and dream of one day having a band of his own. From humble beginnings in a small, run-down mining community in the North-West of England, Andy nurtured his dreams throughout his teenage years and began studying the trombone. With a bandleader father and a mother trained as an opera singer, Andy cut his musical teeth in the highly disciplined world of brass band music and it was here that his musical talents began to surface.

It was not long before he was performing around the world with the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra. He was awarded the Don Lusher Trophy for Best Soloist in the BBC Radio Big Band competition. For most musicians, such recognition at an early age would represent a fulfilment of childhood dreams, but Andy still had a passion that burned within – to sing those incredible, well-crafted songs he heard his heroes perform.

Unlike the copycat culture of today, Andy was inspired by the way that Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra, Matt Monro and others made the songs their own, and he wanted to do the same for himself, in front of a band that would play the music the way he heard it. After making his singing debut at 16 with the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra, his “Sounds of Sinatra” show was such a resounding success that when the Orchestra toured Hong Kong and China, Andy was already front page news.

So, in 1984, Andy started his big band, using a mixture of young talent and ex-professionals from his local area and began honing his skills as a bandleader and song stylist. Within a short time, he was invited to join the Eric Delaney Band at the world-famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom. The season was a tremendous success, with people coming from all across the country to see the legendary drummer and his new singing sensation, Andy Prior. 

The time was right for Andy to begin touring with his own band and, with Delaney’s blessing, he did just that.

stardustbynightThis new, young, dynamic ensemble, fronted by a man with a unique singing style who plays a mean trombone (and can make ‘em laugh too!) was soon making waves throughout the music industry. Offers of work came thick and fast and Andy Prior was on his way. His talents were featured on national television (Pebble Mill, The Generation Game, Talking Telephone Numbers…), he was a winner on Opportunity Knocks, the first resident bandleader at the Tower Ballroom for 25 years and he was packing theatres across the UK. All this at a time when big band music was deemed unpopular!

He was the first and only performer to tour with a show celebrating the music of Frank Sinatra whilst the great man was still alive. Ol’ Blue Eyes even endorsed the show! The tour was an outstanding success, playing to capacity crowds at the London Palladium, Bridgewater Hall, Symphony Hall, St.Davids Hall….the list goes on.

After Sinatra’s passing in 1998, tribute shows began to flood the market but Andy Prior stayed true to himself and was rewarded for this when, in 2002 he was invited by the legendary Billy May to front his Orchestra in the world-famous Stardust Hotel, Las Vegas. Billy had been a hero of Andy’s since childhood- a soloist with Glenn Miller and later, Sinatra’s musical arranger. In Vegas, Prior was celebrated not only as possibly the last great bandleader, but also as the torch-bearer for the future.

What gives Andy Prior a unique place in history is the fact that although all the great bands had star vocalists, this bandleader is the star vocalist. In July 2004 Andy’s 20th year as a band leader was celebrated when Granada TV featured him in his own series broadcasted July 2004. The guest list alone is testament to his standing in the entertainment world- Peter Kay, “Corrie” star Bill Tarmey, jazz diva Jacqui Dankworth, Sony Music Artist and British Jazz Award Nominee Clare Teal.