Dan Donovan's audition

this page first published by John Wright, 9 July 2001
last update 19 Jan 2012vintage@r2ok.co.uk

In a letter to Memory Lane Dan Donovan with the help of his brother Jim descibed one version of the the story of how Dan was offered the job as vocalist with the Debroy Somers orchestra.


The tribute to my brother, Dan Donovan, by Chris Hayes, in the Summer 1982 issue of Memory Lane, brought back some happy memories for us both, and Dan has asked me if I would tell your readers how he came to join Debroy Somers. Wanting to hear a West End band, but unable to afford such places as Grosvenor House, he went along to the Astoria, in Charing Cross Road, to hear Billy Cotton.
After a while Dan realised there were no vocal choruses, so acting on impulse he walked up to Bill and asked why. Bill said he was looking for the right type of voice with the right style, so Dan said: "Why not try me?" Bill, in his breezy manner, said "O.K., I'll try you here and now." After Dan had sung several numbers with the band, Bill said "You're the fellow I am looking for. Come back tomorrow and sign a contract."
Dan went back to his table and within a few moments he was approached by music publisher Jimmy Phillips who had been sitting at another table. He asked Dan if it was an audition, and Dan said it was and that he had been asked to join Bill. Jimmy replied: "With your combination of voice and looks you should be with a stage band. You're just the chap Debroy Somers is seeking." Jimmy at once rang Debroy at the Old Met, Edgware Road, where he was appearing and fixed an audition for the following morning. Dan sang "Body And Soul' and the char-ladies cleaning the theatre stopped work to listen and applauded enthusiastically when he had finished. Debroy said: "That's it, Dan, when can you join?" Dan started about four days later and they never did sign a contract. Dan often met Billy Cotton afterwards in the recording studios and they remained good friends throughout.


permission received from Ray Pallett and Dave Burns

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