In 1954 During his half term break from Salesian College The Benny Goodman Story was showing at Don's local Cinema in Paddington. After seeing the Film Don went back to School and told the Music Teacher that he wanted to learn the Clarinet. The teacher said I think we have two Clarinets in a draw in the music room. He took Don to the Music room opened the draw and much to Dons disappointment found that they were wooden Flutes. With that, much to his mothers discussed he left School, got a Job and borrowed some money to buy a Clarinet which he bought from Boosey & Hawkes in the West End of London
Don Mackrill was only 16 (1954) and a keen Clarinettist when he got his first job in the music business with Stanley Lewis Musical Instrument Company in Wardour Street, off Shaftesbury Avenue in Central London.Jazz Musician Harry Hayes, Aubrey Franks, Charles Chapman and Bert New principle Clarinetist in the BBC Concert Orchestra were Don's Saxophone and Carinet Tutors.
Stanley Lewis was Lead Saxophone Player with the Geraldo Orchestra and was also the lead Alto with the Ambrose Band.
At 16 Don was led to early fame with his first quartet, with Don on Clarinet they entered the 2nd year of the Duke of Ediburgh Awards . Don's Band came second. The winners were the "Brady Jewish Boys Choir 100 strong. The Duke shook Don's hand at the presentation and remarked "you were out numbered"
At the time there was a Trumpet boom sparked by Eddie Calvert with 'Oh myPa Pa' In those early days there were around a dozen music stores in central London all living off Saxophones, woodwind, brass .Ivor Arbiter of Paramount Music in Shaftesbury Avenue during the 50's and the MD of Fender UK in later years was a friend and adviser for Don in his early teens.
At this same time Don first met this long time friend Guitar maker and designer Jimmy Burns, Jim was working with Henry Weil at the time, making amps in Henry's Flat in paddington London W2, near the Royal Oak underground Station ,just around the corner.
Emile Grimshaw that world famous Guitar maker and designer through the 50's/60's was a regular visitor and supplier,,who had his office and workshop in piccadilly London, just down from the Ritz Hotel , also a friend and adviser.,
At 18 and by then an accomplished Saxophone player , doubling on Clarinet,Flute and Oboe, Don was appointed Woodwind and Brass manager at the Boosey & Hawkes store in Denman Street, Piccadilly.London.Hugh McCambly the manager at the time who was a very fine Trumpet player who came down from Scotland with George Firestone and others was also running the Joe Loss Ambassador Bands, which Don regularly gigged with.
Don was a very versatile musician and played with many top Big Bands at the time including Joe Loss, Lou Preager, Teddy Foster , Don Laurie Band, he was an accomplished Jazz musician,who performed in the original Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Gerrard Street in the 50's, and was resident Clarinetist with the well known Ruth Gipps Classical Orchestra in St Johns Square London.Don was also resident Baritone Sax player with Tony Rusell Big Band which rehersed every Sunday at Mac's 100 Oxford Street, regularly conducted by the famous US arranger Bill Russo. Tony Russell was Johnny Dankworth's lead Trombonist/Arranger.
Early 1960's Don Mackrill on Alto Baritone and Bass Sax,Ronnie Shapiro (Helens Brother" a great and enthusiastic musician") on Guitar, Eric Alandale Trombone/Vocals (Later lead singer with the Foundations),Roger Reynolds Drums,Barry Gibbs Bass Guitar, Ray Connelly on Farfisa Compact Keyboard.
Don Mackrill with Ronnie Shapiro on Guitar in the background, sharing solos while Roger Reynolds takes a drum Solo at the Mustard Pot Jazz Club in Hornsey East London 1958.
In 1960 Don formed a partnership with Saxophone and Guitarist Lauire Naiff(Lead Alto with the Fred Hedley Orchestra) specialising in used Saxophones , Guitars, Amps, General Woodwind and Brass instruments. trading as " Pan Music " in Wardour Street above the Whiskie 'a Go Go and the Famous London Flamingo Club below, where Tubby Hayes and later Gorgie Fame and Eric Burdon regularly performed, just a few doors away from the original Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club just up the road in Gerrard Street,where Don was a regular member and performer.
Pan Music was so successful that by 1965 Don and Laurie opened the famous Take Five Shop in Shaftesbury Avenue just around the corner from the new Ronnie Scotts Club, Sound City and Drum City opened later opposite. Most of today's famous musicians and Rock Bands were regular Take Five customers. Jimmy Hendricks , The Beatles, Stones, Zoot Money, and most of the of the top groups at the time .
Don's Blues Band the " Dillingers" in the 60's were on the Jazz and Blues Circuit and played all over the UK at places like the " Klooks Kleek" in Hampstead, oppisite Graham Bond , Johhny Kidd,John Hisemans Colosseum, The Baron Knights The ream and many others
In the 50's Cliff Townsend a formost Saxophone player with the famous Ted Heath Big Band was Don's customer at Boosey & Hawkes Denman Street, as in later years was his son Pete todays Rock Legend also one of Don's Customers in Take Five. In the 60's. Ronnie Scott was a faithful supporter together with many other Jazz Greats.including Sonny Rollins,Illinoi Jacquet, that great jazz Saxophonist Sonny Stitt, Gerry Mulligan and many many top US Jazz musicians who played at the" New Ronnies" which was just around the corner in Dean Street.
In 1963 Don Mackrill and Laurie Naiff formed an amplifier manufacturing company under the brand name IMPACT AMPLIFICATION and during the 60's was used by the leading bands of the day and were shipped all round the globe.
Used by Bill Haley,in Rock around the Clock at the Albert Hall London in the 60's also appearing at the time were Duane Eddie ,Zoot Money and many other Rock Bands of the day. In the photo is Don on the far left with Eddie Moors in the Centre and Dave Martin the Impact Sales Director.
The second picture in the centre shows Don together with their Impact factory manager and designer Les Nye at the Frankfurt Fair exhibit in 1965
In 1969Don introduced the Berkeley Saxophone which competed with the then Selmer Super Pennsylvania (Yanagisawa), the Teachers loved them and they were well recommended thoughout the industry .
In 1970 King Street Music Stores established in 1929 in Hammersmith West London was acquired by Don and Laurie Naiff from Harry Webber and in 1974 Don opened a store in Edgware Middlesex. North London.
Left; a young Willie Garnet ( Today England's s foremost repairman) and the uk's Charlie Parker, who needs no introduction to the Saxophone fraternity posing with the orinigal prototype Berkeley saxophone cases outside Don's King Street Store in Hammersmith at the launch of the Berkeley Saxophone cases in the mid 70's.
In 1976 The Berkeley Saxophone Case Company was born, today the Berkeley Saxophone case is an industry standard used by the worlds top players
(Click on images for a bigger picture)
Don exhibiting at the Frankfurt Trade Fair with his his colourfull display of Berkeley Cases .
(Click on image for a bigger picture)
The second picture is Company secretary Jenny Mackrill with a representative from Barnes & Mullins, Jack Golders son of Shergold Guitar fame
Nowaday's Don Mackrill's Music Stop is a full Oline music business specializing in new, used and vintage instruments, the company have earned a reputation throughout the years as major world dealers in new,used and vintage saxophones, woodwind, brass, guitars and amps, serving musicians all over the world.
Major Educational Suppliers of Band instruments to Schools, Colleges,Music Centres throughout the country.
They operate Large School Rental business run by Jenny Mackrill supplying schools and parents with instruments throughout the country.
The Woodwind, Brass, Orchestral and Band instrument division is still run by Don himself, who's specialist knowledge and expertise is respected throughout the
Music industry .
Don's Dad "Pop"checking the stock