Infamous jazz group The Astor Big Band will swing into town next month for a one-off performance to raise money for the Royal British Legion.

Turn back time with a night devoted to American band leader Glenn Miller's morale-boosting hits as the country unites to commemorate 100 years since the First World War.

Louisa Clarence-Smith catches up with band leader Terry Steel, whose toes are still tapping 44 years after he formed the band which played before Frank Sinatra at the Astor Club in Mayfair in 1971.

Why did you decide to do a special show to commemorate the soldiers who lost their lives in the World Wars?

Because of family members lost during both wars.

And also because of a desire to raise sufficient money over the next four years to pay for a special centre to be opened by the Royal British Legion to care for service personnel from recent times who are suffering so badly from post-traumatic stress disorder that they can not live back in the community.

Were you alive at the end of the Second World War? If so, do you have any memories of that era?

Yes I was born in 1937 - I met Glenn Miller two days before he left on his ill-fated flight to France in December 1944 ( My father had worked with him in the USA) and - I remember one night my grandfather saying, "We won’t go over the road to the shelter tonight we will go under the stairs".

In the morning he could not open the front door so he climbed out of a window only to find all that was left of the house next door was one wall which was leaning against our house.

What are the highlights of The Story of Glenn Miller show? Will you be playing any famous numbers?

We will be playing the actual arrangement from which the Glenn Miller special sound - it was originally performed by the band which Miller formed for a Ray Noble tour of the USA before he formed his own band for the first time.

We will also play a few arrangements from Tommy Dorsey and Duke Ellington which had an influence on Glenn, and then 20 of his number one hits from Moonlight Serenade to American Patrol and Serenade in Blue.

How do you think the Swing music scene has evolved since the 1970’s?

Things have actually come full circle so that the rockers such as Rod Stuart and the modern pop stars such as Robbie Williams are all recording albums with Big Bands - Lady Gaga being the most recent.

What was it like performing for Frank Sinatra?


The Astor Big Band presents The Glenn Miller Story; New Wimbledon Theatre, 93 The Broadway, Wimbledon; Saturday, April 18, 7.30pm; £16.90 to £25.40;

Fifty per cent of profits will go to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.