Tongue Tied

James Last in 1970

James Last (17 April 1929 - 9 June 2015), born Hans Last and also known as Hansi, was a 20th century musical composer of Earth.


Starting out as a jazz bassist musician in his native Germany in the early 1950s, Last eventually came to be composer of his own big band orchestra, the James Last Orchestra. Last suffered criticism in his time, described as "corny" and the "king of elevator music"; such labels which Last tended to happily accept. However, Last had sold over a hundred million albums worldwide by the early 1970s. To modern film audiences, Last is perhaps best known for his song "The Lonely Shepherd", which has featured in films such as Kill Bill.

Rimmer's Favourite Musician

Centuries later, Arnold Rimmer of the JMC mining ship Red Dwarf regarded James Last among his favorite musicians, along with Hammond Organ music in general. His crewmates, such as Dave Lister, Cat and Kryten were not fans, and Rimmer would sometimes play Last - or threaten to play Last - to torment his crewmates.

When the boys from the Dwarf were stranded on Waxworld, Lister saw a group of waxdroids of historical figures he considered to be among the worst in history. Lister claimed that among them was James Last (although Last was unseen). Lister saw James Last among the executioners when the waxdroids of "Villainworld" were executing Winnie-the-pooh by firing squad. Lister recognised James Last from Rimmer's Hammond Organ record collection. ("Meltdown", Series IV)

James Last was indirectly responsible for the existence of Dave Lister, who would become the last human in the Galaxy. When Kristine Kochanski asked Lister for his "contribution" to a self-gamete mixing in-vitro tube - to make a baby since she wanted to become a mother - Lister found that he was lacking in "helpful material". He ended up using one of Rimmer's old James Last album covers featuring a girl in a yellow croquet mini-skirt doing the twist. Although Lister was successful in making his contribution, he said that it was difficult as "peeling an orange with a chopstick". Lister would later discover that, though time travel, the baby in the in-vitro tube would actually become himself. ("Ouroboros", Series VII)

When Rimmer and Lister played mine-opoly, Lister agreed that if he lost, he had to wear a evening gown, day and night, until he could play James Last polka songs on the bagpipes. This never happened, since Lister cheated. ("Samsara", Series XI)


  • At the beginning of the Series V episode "Terrorform", we get a glimpse into Kryten's mind, listening to his internal CPU - including 'a little music'. The original aired episode featured Copacabana [At The Copa] by Rimmer's big-band hero, James Last. This was a one-off clearance though, and future broadcasts and on the Series V DVD it is a version of the same song by in-house composer Howard Goodall.

External Links