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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Great Escape soccer fans' tribute
By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff

The England Supporters Band
The band are a fixture at England soccer games
England soccer fans who turned Elmer Bernstein's Great Escape theme into a national football anthem have spoken of their sadness at his death.

The England Supporters Band had played the famous tune as usual at England's friendly against Ukraine on Wednesday.

They had met Bernstein as surprise guests when he was a recent subject of TV's This Is Your Life tribute show.

Bernstein, who also composed The Ten Commandments and The Magnificent Seven, died on Wednesday aged 82.

Supporters band leader John Hemmingham said the group was "very saddened" to hear the news.

Elmer Bernstein
Bernstein's career spanned more than 50 years
"We adopted The Great Escape and it has become the national anthem of England football supporters, so it's very sad news," he said.

"He did some absolutely classic stuff and has given pleasure to many people."

Mr Hemmingham said Bernstein and his extended family had met the band and indicated their pleasure at their rendition of his 1963 film score.

He said the group would continue playing it - "he would want us to do that," said Mr Hemmingham - and would be happy to take part in any musical tribute organised by friends.

The supporters band, made up entirely of Sheffield Wednesday supporters, has played at every England fixture home and away since 1996.

Officially approved by the Football Association, it consists of drummers, trumpeters, a euphonium player, saxophonist and trombonist.

In June this year, the band accompanied a record-breaking 90-minute chant of The Great Escape by soccer fans ahead of the Euro 2004 tournament.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Chris Jones looks back at Bernstein's life
"At the age of 12 he was performing at concert halls"



SEE ALSO:
Great Escape composer dies at 82
19 Aug 04  |  Entertainment
Hollywood composer Goldsmith dies
26 Jul 04  |  Entertainment
Obituary: Jerry Goldsmith
22 Jul 04  |  Entertainment


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