IN today’s Rewind we tell the story of a Swindon musician’s key role in a beloved American tradition dating back more than half a century.

This year, just as they have every year since 1965, millions of Americans will watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, the animated TV special with characters from the Charles Schulz comic strip.

Over the years, it has become a festive viewing ritual as strong as that of tuning in to classic James Stewart film It’s a Wonderful Life.

A key factor in the cartoon’s appeal is the jazz soundtrack provided by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, whose biggest hit, Cast Your Fate to the Wind, is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful instrumentals ever recorded.

Simply hearing a few seconds of the soundtrack is enough to take older viewers instantly back to their childhoods.

The band’s drummer, Colin Bailey, first learned his instrument as a child in his home town, Swindon.

The earliest mention of him in our archives appeared on July 17, 1946, and was headlined: “Boy Drummer.”

We said: “At Butlin’s holiday camp, Clacton-on-Sea, last week, little Colin Bailey, son of Mr and Mrs JE Bailey of Oxford Road, Swindon, celebrated his 12th birthday anniversary by playing the drums in The Squadronaires, England’s champion dance band.

“He gave a rendering of Drummer Boy and received a great ovation from the audience.

“At the close Jock Cummings, The Squadronaires famous drummer, remarked: ‘He’s terrific and in my opinion has a great future.’”

The assessment proved very astute.

By the age of 18, Colin Bailey was playing drums for world famous Trinidadian pianist Winifred Atwell, and in 1952 took part in the first Royal Command Performance of the young Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

Winifred Atwell was only one of countless legendary figures Colin was to play with in the process of becoming a legendary figure in his own right.

The list includes Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, Tony Bennett, Jerry Lewis and George Shearing.

There was also soundtrack work for stars such as Julie Andrews and Fred Astaire.

Colin lived for some years in Australia and moved to America in the early 1960s, where he lives to this day.

He appeared in Adver stories many times over the years, usually in connection with either his latest musical achievement or a visit to proud family members in Swindon.