James Last Passes Away At 86

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If you come from a European (especially German) family, you'll know who James Last is. James Last has always been something of a tradition in our family. At every family gathering I can ever recall, Grandpa Sitter would always walk over to the stereo to put on a James Last record. The kids would always snide remarks and make jokes at how "awful" the music was, but we all secretly enjoyed it. I play James Last's Christmas Album religiously every holiday season. 

Today, the German-born musician's manager said Last died at his home "peacefully and in the presence of his family".

James Last sold millions of records with his trademark "happy music" - upbeat versions of pop and classical favourites performed by his orchestra. Last is remembered for his youthful energy, even into his old age. 

James Last was a Big Band Leader to be reckoned with in the European music scene for decades. I'm sure he will be missed. I know he will be missed at my family's holiday gatherings. 

A public memorial service for James Last will take place in Hamburg, Germany, in the coming weeks.

Laugh all you want, but this is the sound of my family gatherings on both sides of the family.