HE is Britain's Godfather of Jazz who laid the tracks for a blues rock explosion which gave birth to rock giants like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

Chris Barber, who is 89 , is hanging up his trombone after leading his internationally popular band for a record breaking 65 years.

He has led his big band longer than his American jazz hero Duke Ellington who clocked up a mere half a century as a bandleader.

Barber, whose musical career spans 70 years, has announced his permanent retirement from full time music.

But the good news for Barber’s loyal band of fans is that The Big Chris Barber Band will carry on as a tribute to their founder’s rich musical heritage.

It will be stopping off on December 4 at Eastleigh’s Concorde where Chris Barber has played a huge role in a club which has become an international jazz mecca.

A notice on the club’s website says: “Chris Barber has now retired from live performances. The Big Chris Barber Band will however continue their tour as a dedication to Chris.”

Chris was only 19 when in 1949 he launched his own New Orleans style band and his Concorde appearances stretch back to when the club was tucked into the backroom of The Bassett in Burgess Road, Southampton.

His first was in 1966 and since then he has headlined at the club, which later moved to Stoneham Lane, Eastleigh, in every decade.

Concorde boss Cole Mathieson hopes there will be a big turn out on December 4 to salute the music of a jazz icon.

Cole said: “He inspired a lot of people to take up the genre of traditional jazz and New Orleans jazz and he brought so many big stars of jazz and blues across the Atlantic.

“One of the secrets of his success is that he has always had super musicians in his band.”

And Cole recalled that The Chris Barber Band was the first professional jazz band he saw when he went to a gig at The Winchester Lido ballroom.

Chris Barber is among a galaxy of jazz stars who have appeared at The Concorde, including the late Ginger Baker, who was always a jazzer at heart.

The drummer appeared with The Cream at The Concorde in the sixties as part of the first UK tour of the band which went on to become a super group.

Paying tribute to Ginger, Cole said: “He was a one off. A real character of the jazz and group business.”

In the late fifties and early sixties Chris Barber masterminded the first UK tours of blues greats including Muddy Waters from across The Atlantic and he inspired young musicians like Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger to start playing the blues.

He also gave Lonnie Donegan, the King of Skiffle, his first big break when he joined Barber's band.

And he is also the sole survivor of a legendary trio of British jazz musicians called the Three Bs. The other two being the late Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball.

Barber's original small group initially played in jazz clubs but by the late 50s became an attraction in large concert halls throughout the UK and Europe.

His jazz band first toured the USA in 1959 after having a million selling hit with Petite Fleur in that year, featuring clarinettist Monty Sunshine.

Barber's passion for Afro-American music brought many American blues and gospel legends to Britain who appeared with his band, including Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters, Louis Jordan, Sonny Boy Williamson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Together with his business partner Harold Pendleton, Chris opened the celebrated Marquee Club in London in 1958 where many British blues performers were first showcased including Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated and The Rolling Stones.

Chris Barber's influence on the European music scene has been an extremely significant one, ranging from traditional jazz to Chicago blues, always played with great dedication to the music he loved.

Fellow musicians have been queuing up to heap praise on Barber including Hampshire born blues star Paul Jones, of The Manfreds fame, who said: “From Rock Island Line until today Chris Barber has always been like a father figure to me. I cherish the times when he invited me to play with his band and when he returned the compliment by gracing the stage or recording studio with the Blues Band. An inspiration and role model.”

Many more will be lining up to wish a very happy retirement to the man whose jazz put the pop into the United Kingdom.

For more information and to book for The Big Chris Barber Band gig ring 02380613989 or visit www.theconcordeclub.com .