Humphrey Lyttelton was chairman of BBC Radio 4’s comedy panel show ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue‘ since 1972 and hosted BBC Radio 2’s The Best of Jazz for 40 years. He began playing the trumpet in 1936 and was still touring with his band up until his admission to hospital April 16.
Trumpeter Lyttelton played trumpet on Radiohead’s ‘Life In A Glass House‘, the closing track of Amnesiac. Talking about the collaboration with Radiohead he said: “The thing was that Jonny Greenwood who is that guy who does the talking, he wrote to me and said this is probably an awful cheek but we’ve got a track on our forthcoming CD where we’re having terrible trouble about how to treat it. And we discussed it the other day and thought that maybe the sort of New Orleans-y jazz – they’d heard some of my early records – so, what do you think about it? So I said “Yes” in that true journalistic fashion and then they sent me a tape of the tune – couldn’t make head or tail of it – and this is where the find out about it after, say “Yes” first, regret it later. But, we had a meeting up at the BBC and I said, sort of half jokingly, “Sounds to me as though the sort of thing that might go would be New Orleans funeral music” because as you know, it’s not ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ when they perform. And he said “Yeah, great idea”.
So we went in a studio and spent, I think it was, nine hours or seven hours, gradually moving. They didn’t know what they wanted us to do. We didn’t know what they wanted us to do and we gradually sort of moved towards it. And after seven hours, I said “That’s it, it’s not going to get any better than that”. There’s a certain sort of… working with Radiohead… has a certain Sorry I haven’t a Clue element, unexpected element about it because Thom Yorke, the singer, who writes wonderful things – that always reminded me of that Procol Harem thing… the surrealistic words – only his are far out and great. When they came to us we had to play the tape over and over and over and I began to get the feeling of what he was on about. It’s abstract, the concept of his lyrics.
Here’s Radiohead with Humphrey Lyttelton, Jimmy Hastings and John Barnes performing ‘Life in a glass House’ on Later… with Jools Holland in 2001.