Band Member William (Willie) Lang
Position Principal Cornet
Instrument Cornet

Known to his friends as Willie, Mr Lang was born in Hollin Well, Norland, in 1919. When his father died he moved to Beechwood, Sowerby Bridge, to live with his aunt, Annie Hardy, aged 11. His first instrument was a rubber hose from his mother’s wash tub. Once he received a proper instrument, he played for the Norland Band and Bradford Band at an early age. At just 16 years old he became assistant principal cornet player at Black Dyke, Queensbury. He worked as an apprentice builder and stonemason at Parkers Yard, Sowerby Bridge, and was so good he paid a tradesman’s wage while still a boy. His handiwork can still be seen on the columns of the former Barclays Bank, Sowerby Bridge. During the war he joined the Royal Engineers in 1941 and was a tank commander for the 1st Field Squadron Royal Engineers in the 8th Army.

He served in Italy, Austria and North Africa for five years. He returned to the Black Dyke Band after demobilisation in 1946 where he was championed for his role as principal cornet player from 1938 to 1941, 1945 to 1950 and 1952 to 1954. During this period the band won the National Championships of Great Britain in 1947, 1948 and 1949. He was also the 1947, 1948 and 1949 All England Solo Champion. In 1950, Mr Lang left the Black Dyke Band to play for the West Riding Orchestra, but returned in 1952.

He later joined the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra. In 1953 he joined the Halle Orchestra, initially on third trumpet, but his reputation soon earned him a place at the London Symphony Orchestra as principal trumpet player. As well as working with composer John Williams on the soundtrack to the Star Wars and Superman films, Mr Lang worked on William Walton’s music for The Battle of Britain and other films such as The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare. He also worked with musician Frank Zappa and Mike Batt, of The Wombles fame. He leaves two sons from his first marriage, Michael and Patrick, widow Anne and sons, Gerald and James, and seven grandchildren.

Willie Lang plays “Jenny Wren”

Tuesday, February 1, 1938 to Monday, February 1, 1954


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