Researching Joe Batten

This webpage has been prepared to assist Michael Lloyd-Davies search for information on his grandfather Joe Batten who worked in the recording industry in Britain during the first half of the 20th century.

this page first published by John Wright, 10 April 2003
last updated 29 March

Joe Batten b.1885 d.1955

Hello Fellow Gramophone enthusiast

My name is MICHAEL LLOYD-DAVIES, but I was born Michael Batten. Joe Batten is my grandfather and although I never knew him I have researched my family background and know quite a lot about him.

Update message from Michael,
I have been grateful to John Wright and other early recording enthusiasts for so much help with my research. It has taken me nearly ten years to arrive at this point when I am able to republish Joe Batten’s memoirs. Shortly it will become available on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader and then hopefully in hardback and paperback – POD (Print on Demand) via a dedicated website. My thanks go also to people who wrote in response to my original appeal. I had not been aware that Joe recorded some Ragtime pieces, one of which, Piano Man Rag, I now have on tape and 78 record thanks to some very kind people out there. I believe this could be the first piece of Ragtime music produced in Britain. If anyone knows if his creations were in sheet music form, I would be interested in hearing from them.

I must thank John for keeping the page he created for me up here on the Internet. I am immensely proud of Joe’s achievements and particularly that he was able to complete his memoirs and get them published for people to read, first hand, about those very early days of recorded sound.

Michael Lloyd-Davies ( Batten)

Who is Joe Batten?

In Sir Compton Mackenzie’s foreword to Joe’s memoirs The Story of Sound Recordings he described him as a pioneer recording manager and bracketed him with Freddy Gaisberg as that other great recorder, but Joe was more than just a recording manager. In his 50 years in the industry he was involved with no less than 39 record labels. In his book he mentions the following companies/labels:

The Musiphone Company (later Odeon label)
Neophone Recording Company (later Decca)
Edison Bell Company (Winner records)
Velvet Face (1920 — 1927)
EMI (Special Recording Department)

Joe Batten was a character, having been born a cockney in Hoxton within the sound of Bow Bells. He was also an accomplished Composer, Conductor, Arranger, Pianist and Musical Advisor and one of his main claims to fame was the first recording of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.

I wonder if you can help me?

I am working on a new biography of my Grandfather and am looking for records, pictures, cuttings etc. The records could either be of him as a pianist or conductor or even composer.

I can be contacted on telephone / fax 01565-654690
or by e-mail:

or write to me at 1 Coppice Grove, Knutsford Cheshire WA16 6TN, UK

Thank you, Michael Lloyd-Davies (nee Michael Batten)

Information from Jazz Records (5th Ed. Brian Rust, 1982)

Joe Bolton was a pseudonym adopted by Joseph Batten for recording piano rags and similar numbers during his term of office as Muiscal Director of Edison Bell records.

Piano solo. London, November 1922
7603-3 Piano Man Rag EBW 3771

Information from VJM Autumn 2003, as compiled by Bjorn Englund

piano solo. London c. January 1912
6030 On The Mississippi Popular P375, Grammovox C21

Piano solo. London, early 1912
6087 The Nigger's Hop (Batten) Popular P656
6088 The Tramp Rag (Batten) Popular P656

Note that Jospeh Batten composed the last two pieces.

Information from the 78-L group

Ross Laird reports: Among Joe Batten's piano recordings are one title for Neophone in 1906, three titles for Popular in 1912, and one title for Winner in 1922. Details of these are in my book "Tantalizing Tingles: a discography of early ragtime, jazz and novelty syncopated piano recordings, 1889-1934" (Greenwood Press, 1995). Joe Batten also played the piano accompaniment for banjo recordings by J.J. Ashton on Winner in 1916.

Chris Zwarg reports that in Joe's book he descibes himself as "house accompanist" for Neophone and possibly other minor London labels of the 1900-1910 era, so he is to be heard uncredited on many other recordings.

Joe Batten's autobiography is entitled Joe Batten's Book - the Story Of Sound Recording, published in 1956 by Rockcliff Publishing Corporation.

Michael Lloyd-Davies has supplied the photos for this web page

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