Who I Am: Tony Harrison

by Leeza Dennis on September 28, 2016 in Entertainment, Music,

Western Swing, so uniquely Texan, isn’t where you’d expect to find a Brit. But Tony Harrison, Austin’s own British King of Swing, is here to defy all your expectations. From the Tower of London to center stage at the legendary venue, the Broken Spoke, Tony’s been all over. Catch him and his band at the Georgetown Palace October 14 – 23 in “Come Fly With Me,” a tribute night of Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack. I was able to catch up with Harrison to get to know more about the man behind the microphone in his own words.

Tony Harrison performing at The Broken Spoke. Courtesy photos
Tony Harrison performing at The Broken Spoke. Courtesy photos

I was born in Richmond, England. My father was in the military and so I lived in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Scotland and Ireland. Also, the Tower of London for three years.

Before music I worked at Vidal Sassoon’s Hair Salon in Mayfair. I was then offered a job in Dallas, and moved to the Big D with my then new wife, Carole. I loved it immediately. I worked at Cordes/Hendricks for four years in Preston Center Plaza and it was absolutely wonderful.”

Our son Dominic was born in Dallas in 1968. Our daughter, Tina, was born in Austin in 1973. And Carole and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on August 11 of this year.  

picture-v2-oct-2015_credit-korey-howellI started jogging for pleasure and fitness. Since then I’ve completed 35 marathons – London, New York, Dallas, Houston. The longest of which was the 66 mile race in Dallas. I’ve also run 50 triathlons, including the Texas Tri, 150 Miles. There’s dozens of 5K and 10Ks in there too.

I always wanted to sing on stage for as long as I can remember. Then one day I wrote a song called “BeepBeepHonkHonk” about safety on the road for children. It won an award from the Austin Songwriter’s Group.

I got my start in music when I met a fella named Dick Gimble in Reitz Music Store on Congress Avenue. We became friends – I didn’t know anything about Western Swing at the time, but that was about to change!

I started playing at the Broken Spoke after meeting Annetta and James White. First it was Tuesday Happy Hour with a four piece band, and now I’m playing the 1st and 3rd Thursday with an eight piece band. We’re going on our 10th year!