James (Hans) Last - a Bremen-born big band leader who sold a reported 100 million albums in his day — has died at a home in Florida. He was 86.
At 14 he entered a military music school during the Nazi reign where he learnt to play a variety of wind, stringed and keyboard instruments. After WW11, he joined a Bremen dance orchestra and, in 1948, he became the leader of the Last-Becker Ensemble, which performed for seven years. During that time, he was voted as the best bassist in the country by a German jazz poll for three consecutive years, from 1950 to 1952.
After the Last-Becker Ensemble disbanded, he became the in-house arranger for Polydor Records and went on to become one of Europe's best selling album artists under his own name.It is estimated that he recorded over 190 records spanning just about every genre imaginable during his career.