Don Burrows by David Simmonds


Vale Don Burrows

For some of our members who might remember the man, the music and his photography.  Don passed away last week.

Don Burrows was renowned for his contributions to Australian Jazz, however, it is his life long passion for black-and-white photography that connected him with our AIPP community. Don frequented the Sans Souci and Caringbah camera clubs in Sydney and in 2008 the AIPP recognised Don’s contributions to photography at the AIPP awards gala dinner with an Honorary Life Membership.

Photo: Bruce Pottinger APPL MPhotog I HonFAIPP

Don received a raft of honours in his lifetime including Officer of the Order of Australia, Induction into the ARIA Music Awards Hall of Fame, and was named as an Australian Living Treasure over two decades, in 1989 and 1999.

Don’s photograph of fellow jazz musician Bob Barnard AM performing is held in the National Portrait Gallery collection.

Vale Don Burrows

Donald Vernon Burrows AO MBE (8 August 1928 – 12 March 2020[1]) was an Australian jazz and swing musician, a multi-instrumentalist who was best known for playing the clarinet but also played the saxophone and flute. For his contribution to the arts he had a supper club named for him at The Regent Hotel (now Four Seasons Hotel) in Sydney, Australia.

Burrows is best known for his work with the Don Burrows Quartet, comprising Burrows (multiple woodwind), George Golla (guitar), Ed Gaston (double bass) and Alan Turnbull (drums).

Burrows was the recipient of both an MBE and AO. He played with many world-renowned musicians, including Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson, James Morrison, Tony Bennett, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Stéphane Grappelli and Cleo Laine.

He had a lifelong hobby of black-and-white photography, beginning in his 20s as an active participant in the Sans Souci and Caringbah camera clubs in Sydney. He sees the creativity of music and photography having significant similarities. 

(Source – Wikipedia)

Jazz legend, Don Burrows, was honoured last night by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) at their annual awards presentations.

Twice named one of ‘Australia’s National Living Treasures’, Don Burrows is better known for his outstanding contributions to the Australian music scene than his contributions to the photography world. Since being given a Kodak Box Brownie by his aunt when he was just eleven years of age, he has gone on to use photographic skills to aid music education programs.

For more than 40 years, Don has visited countless outback Australian locations playing and showing pictures to aboriginal and white children alike. During this time, Don photographed many of the sights and people along the way, with some of his favourite images being those taken of indigenous children.

These images were never included in his pictures for sale, however, after discussing the situation with a colleague, an idea was put to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra. The result saw the establishment of a fund in which all the proceeds of the sales of these images went to aid any young aboriginal seeking assistance in a career in music.
Don Burrows’ contribution to photography has been recognized by his nomination as an Honorary Life Member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography at the AIPP’s Canon Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPAs).

Article from Photo Review, June 3, 2008


  • April 3, 2020 - Reply

    Bill Bachman

    A well-deserved tribute. Perhaps less well-known is that Don was every bit as keen a fly fisherman as he was a photographer. I met him several times in both contexts. I photographing him at the 1999 World Fly Fishing Championships, in Jindabyne, NSW, where he was a celebrity guest. He was a very fine man and showed great enthusiasm for everything he did. We need more like him.

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