He was a clarinettist, recorder player, saxophonist and composer born Anthony George Coe in Canterbury, England. He studied the clarinet and taught himself the tenor saxophone.
In the early 1950s he was a member of an Army band and his professional career began in the 1960s when he started performing with the Humphrey Lyttleton Band. He was approached by Count Basie in 1965 and was offered a place in the saxophone section of his band but problems with immigration meant this did not come to fruition.
Throughout his career he achieved acclaim for his performance of jazz music and aside from appearing with artists and bands he led his own groups. Over the years he worked with artists and bands that include Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Dankworth, Matrix, Paul McCartney and many more.
As a composer he wrote the orchestral score Zeitgeist, works to be performed by his own ensembles, pieces for groups such as Metropole Orchestra and the Danish Radio Big Band and the scores for movies that include Peau de Peche, Mer de Chine and Camomile.
His appearances on film scores as a performer include Victor Victoria, Superman II, The Loss of Sexual Innocence and Leaving Las Vegas and he was the saxophone soloist in the music for the Pink Panther films.
He was the recipient of the 1997 BT British Jazz Clarinet Award and was the first non-American to be awarded the Danish Jazzpar Prize and received an honorary Doctorate in Music.
His son is the successful radio presenter, journalist and sportscaster Gideon Coe.
He died in Canterbury, England in 2023 when he was 88 years old.
Here is Tony performing “Lagos”..