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this page first published by John Wright, 29 December 2003
last update 29 December firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have an interest to share?Was there an important musician in your family?
E-mail me and share your interest with me or all our visitors
Benny Loban, biography
|I received an e-mail from Gerald Loban: "I noticed your Remberance Yearbook on the Internet while looking up what may be on for my father Benny Loban. I have put together a small biography of
my father and also have attached a few pictures to go along with it. If this
is helpful to you, you are most welcome to use it. Also you may edit the
biography if you feel any need to do this. The attached pictures include one of
my father with the Savoy Orpheans band in 1930. Also a couple of publicity portraits.
John Wright: "Many thanks Gerald for the information and photos of your father. His name frequently crops up on the Yahoo group discussions.
I have added a paragraph about the recordings that Benny was involved in. Also added some notes on his brother Maurice who was also active
within the dance band scene. I recall reading that some years ago researcher Lyman Potts tracked down
Benny when he was still alive. I know also that the late Chris Hayes did publish some notes on Benny in a booklet some years ago, I'll try and
find a colleague who has that book.
Harry Shalson, biography and discography
|Last year I put 'the call out' for information on Harry Shalson via the message board on this website. Harry Shalson made several excellent recordings with British dance band musicians in the late 1920's. I am particularly indebted to Mike Thomas who pointed out that Vaughan Shalson, son of Harry Shalson, had responded last year but I had not noticed! After some frantic e-mails myself and Charles Hippesley-Cox have been contacted again by Vaughan Shalson. We are working with Mike Thomas and Vaughan to compile a complete discography of Harry Shalson - we have now listed 86 recordings. Vaughan has kindly donated several interesting photographs to this website - these and the work on the discography can be seen at Harry Shalson, biography and discography|
Perley Breed's college band 1925
|My colleagues Joe Moore and Dick Hill are currently looking for information on reed player Perley Breed, a Boston (US) musician who
worked in Britain with several bands, most memorably with Bert Firman and the Starita brothers. Breed returned to USA maybe in 1930 and little is known about him.
I have recently been searching the Internet section of the archives of the TECH Magazine of Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT). This college apparently was entertained by jazz/dance bands during the 1920's and 1930's. The archives are hard to search because they are rather poor text-scans, full of spelling errors. I have shared this information with Joe Moore.
Perley Breed's name is mentioned several times during 1925 with no detail on the rest of the band or the music played, but apparently there are photos of the band which I have enquired about.
There is mention of the Shepard Colonial Orch which Breed had recorded with in 1924, and another musician mentioned is Billy Losses or Lossez. Found the interesting story regarding name of the MIT dance band, the Techtonians.
NOTE: the Techtonians were likely a band made up of students, and Perley Breed was not a student, but the college band story is interesting to record here.
The archive for April 13, 1925 mentions a competition to name the
new college dance band. Also states "The Glee Club and the Dance
Orchestra will be on the stage for three evenings of the week Mondays
Wednesday, and Friday, while the Mandolin Club and the Banjo Club will
offer numbers on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays evenings".
"Friday Oct. 23, 1925. BOSTON'S THREE FOREMOST ORCHESTRAS The Tech Tunesters,
Billy Losses and Perley Breed", and later it was Perley Breed's orchestra chosen for the
Another correspondent researching Perlry Breed, Victor Russell, has been in contact with MIT and reports that Perley Breed is not recorded as a student or academic at MIT. He is simply recorded by the Alumni Office as a visitor on various occasions in 1925, with his orchestra. He may therefore not have been directly involved with the Techtonians or Tech Tunesters college bands.
Victor Russell also reports that ancestry.com records the name of a Perley Breed living in Massachusetts and married to a Della Jennie Walker. This Perley Breed, born in 1885 and died on 1st June 1960, is likely the father of Perley Breed the dance band and jazz musician. At geneology.com there is a Perley Breed, from Danvers in Massachusetts, who married Margaret Tilley in 1924. This is probably our musician.
Our researches at MIT/Boston and ancestry sites continue.
Al Starita in Boston, Massachusetts, 1933-1935
|Further searches ofthe MIT archives reveals that Al Starita performed there - he had some gigs there when he
returned to USA. Here's what I've found so far:
TECH magazine Tuesday, May 16, 1933. Price Five Cents.
TECH magazine Friday, October 27, 1933
The TECH magzine Friday, January 12 1934. Price Three Cents
The TECH magazine (date not known) 1935
The TECH magazine Friday, October 25, 1935
This information about Al Starita in 1935 is fascinating. We only know the sound of Al Starita leading dance bands from British recordings 1925-1929, with a very 20's period sound. One wonders what sound his MIT band made in 1933-35 - had he started to 'swing' ?
arrival of Max Goldberg, 1924
|It's surprising how much data can be found during one afternoon at the National Archives at Kew. Looking though passenger lists arriving at Southamoton Aug/Sept 1924, as well as ships from New York (see below) I also looked through ships from Quebec, Canada. I was
pleasantly surprised to see a group of musicians listed as passengers, as follows:
'Empress Of France' arrived Southampton 20 August 1924 from Quebec
Max Goldberg became one ot the best and most respected trumpet players in England during the 1920's and 1930's, particularly remembered for his recordings with Bert Ambrose and with many 'hotter' who recorded in the sudios. The passenger
list and date confirms the information about Max Goldberg from Lyman Potts in Memory Lane no 74,
though Lyman spelled name Louis Quick and only also mentions Shenkman.
Mike Thomas thinks this may be the Buffalos band led by Bill Shenkman, that toured Britain, including the Birmingham Palais.
Billy Mayerl on his travels, 1924
|For the budding researcher I can thououghly recommend joining and visiting the National Archives at Kew.
Although I went to Kew to check out Howard Jacobs' movements (see below) I came out with many other interesting pieces of information about several musicians.
While looking through the passenger lists at Kew it is helpful that
'occupation' is listed so 'musician' can be picked out. This
allowed me to pick out other names easily. I scanned all names
carefully, however, as you can't really rely on these records to always
list the correct occupation, and note (below) that Carrol Gibbons was listed as
'student' not a musician.
Anyway, here is an important name found during September 1924, coming into Southampton from New York:
'Aquatania' arrival 22 Sept 1924 from New York
It's interesting that Mayerl regarded himself primarily as a composer in 1924. Checking the Ellis Island site reveals he travelled TO New York on the same ship on August 22. So I wondered who he might have travelled with during his month visit to USA. Scanning through the Kew passenger list there is a likely candidate, listed as 'music publisher', Mr Geoffrey Clayton, and his name is next to Billy's on the Ellis Island list entering US. So I expect Billy Mayerl was selling his compositions to the Americans.
Joe Moore and Mike Thomas believe this is the same Geoffrey Clayton who wrote a column for the Melody Maker.
Derek McCarthy reports that the US visit is mentioned in the biography of Billy Mayerl (Marigold). It is thought that Mayerl and Clayton watched music shows and met publishers and musicians, including radio and vaudeville pianist Lee Sims. It is also thought that on the return trip to Britain Mayerl and Clayton may have conceived the idea of the School of Modern Syncopation and the first Course of Instruction.
Ray Starita's trip to USA, 1924
|Another musician moving between UK and USA in 1924 was Ray Starita. I found him on a passenger list arriving in Southampton in September,
and the Ellis Island archives show that he had been in US for just under two months:
Renato Staritamusicianage 20
'France'left Plymouth July 25 1924
This is certainly Ray Starita. It confirms he was in UK before 1924. Further searches at Kew should determine when he first arrived in UK probably in 1923.
arrival of Carroll Gibbons, Rudy Vallee
|I was contacted by an American who is a friend of the son of Howard Jacobs, saxophonist at the Savoy Hotel in the 1920's. The story they had was that Howard Jacobs brought Carroll Gibbons and Rudy Vallee to England in 1924.
A quick check of the Ellis Island internet site reveals that Howard Jacobs did set out to US on a trip in August 1924 but most references suggest that it was Joe Brannelly who was on the recruiting trip
(he travelled to US earlier, April 1924). While planning business visits to London in October it was
suggested to me by Joe Moore that I visit the National Archives and check passenger lists for ocean liners arriving in England August/September 1924. I was able to do this and can confirm the following:
'Olympic' from New York, arrived Southampton 19 September
Brannelly, Johnmusicianage 23
So Joe Brannelly did bring Vallee and Gibbons to Britain. Note Gibbons listed as student. This would suggest that this was his
first trip to Britain.
Cairns & Morrison record label
|A very kind visitor to my website, Leonard Pitcaithley, sent me a Cairns and Morrison 78. I
know the label is mentioned on Norman Field's website though I think only with
regard to Cairns & Morrison home-recording device. The 78 that I have is a regular 78, it's shellac though it does not have
a run-in or run-off groove. The recordings feature a proper dance band and vocalists.
Unfortunately a slight warp in the record would appear to have caused in to crack when pressed between two
hard boards during packing - I should have advised better :0( It is however a clean break and at first attempt I was able to
hold it together with cellotape at the crack edges, and it was playable. Handwritten on the blue Cairns and Morrison label is:
1. An Old Fashioned Garden Party - Trolling Around 2. The Machine Gun Drag.
The first side is a competent dance band playing two tunes, one instrumental and one with a male and female duo. The vocals suggest at least one familiar dance tune, possibly 'That's What They Call Love' which I do not know. The other side is an older style tune.
So it appears Cairns & Morrison had proper recording studios where a band could go in and make 'demo' records.
I've made .wav recordings of both sides but de-clicking and noise reduction is too long a task on this disc. Norman Field will listen to the tracks and comment.
Fred Elizalde, the soldier
|I noticed a 1937 issue of Melody Maker on Ebay and the photo of the front page clearly featured a small article and photograph of Fred Elizalde who at that time was studying music in Spain. Being 1937 he got caught up in the Spanish Civil War, and the article stated that he had been recognised for bravery. I discussed this with fellow collector Nick Dellow who added "I knew that Elizalde was decorated for bravery, but I haven't seen that article before. Elizalde was an officer in General Franco's army. He was wounded at Oviedo and invalided out of the army. During the Second World War he was a virtual prisoner in his chateau in Bayonne, occupied France. I'm not sure I understand what the German's had against him, considering he fought for Franco, but along with other notable artists (like Noel Coward), he was on the German's list of people to be watched".|
Early Jack Hylton LP not issued?
|My colleague Joe Moore gifted me with a one sided 33rpm LP, a test pressing which appeared to have recordings featuring Pat O'Malley. I listened carefully to the LP and shared findings with the British Danace band yahoo group.
We have now determined that the LP is a very early (~1953) test pressing Jack Hylton LP, or one side of it at least. Looking at the hand-written label again I can say now that it says: Jack's Back Vol 2 Side 2
So side 2 suggests there was a side 1 (check your boxes Joe!), and Vol 2 suggests there was a Vol 1. From our discussions I believe we have not
identified a release for Vol 1. In fact we don't know if either vols were commercially released?
Although I prefer my music as dance tempo music I have enjoyed listening to these concert arrangements. I have to say they are very much in the style of Paul Whiteman, but, perhaps, Hylton's is more polished.
extract from files of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/british-dance-bands/
Norman Payne's family
|I have been contacted by Camilla Bellamy, the grand-daughter of Norman Payne. Camilla has presented this website with a fine photograph of the musical brothers Norman and Laurie Payne.
On a separate web page devoted to Norman and Laurie Payne I have added a few more photos and with the help of Nick Dellow, Mike Thomas and the Rust/Forbes book I have made a start at piecing together their important musical careers.
Ray Noble mystery song (extract from Bowlly group discussion)
|John Wright: I have the magazine Popular Songs from April 1935. It's an American
magazine and dates from just before Ray Noble took up residence at the
Rainbow Restaurant, in New York. The magazine has a beautiful front cover photo of Ginger Rogers which is good enough reason to want to own a copy, but to get back to Ray Noble,
there is an interesting article about him. Before I embark on a major
search I thought I would ask members if they know something about it.
The article has biographical information about Ray and mentions that he has just signed a 26 series NBC contract. Then there is a story which raises a question. The article refers at length to a recent readers' contest to suggest an idea for a song for Bing Crosby. I quote relevant sentences from the article:
"...we have been able to secure the services of that noted composer Ray Noble to fashion into a commercial-type song the winning idea in the big Bing Crosby contest which closed recently"
"Ray Noble agreed to accept this important assignment and he is now at work constructing the song in which the author of the winning idea will have a one-third royalty interest in the sale of sheet music, phonograph records and orchestrations".
"After Ray Noble completes the song it will be published by Select Music Publications Inc. Paramount reserves the right to use this song, if it is suitable, in one of Bing Crosby's forthcoming pictures".
The article then goes on to list artistes and orchestras who will also broadcast their versions of the song.
Assuming this project was completed, the question is what was the song that was published as a result of the contest? Did Bing record it? Did Noble record it? Did Al Bowlly record it?
Barry McCanna writes: "One possible candidiate is the song Why Stars Come Out At Night but I cannot find a recording by Bing of this song. As to composer credit, my old RCA Camden vinyl only lists Noble against the tune. What about the songs featured in The Big Broadcast of 1936?
Bert Bishop writes: "Bing only sang I Wished On The Moon in Big Broadcast of 1936. He never ever recorded Why Stars Come Out At Night on any medium. According to Roger Kinkle's music encyclopaedia Ray Noble was sole composer of Why Stars Come Out At Night and his band played it in Big Broadcast, no vocal.
Lionel writes: "We have to rule out The Touch Of Your Lips, recorded by Bing and Al Bowlly within five days of each other [24.3.36 & 19.3.36] as that was before the magazine published the story. Why Stars Come Out At Night was recorded by Al Bowlly in June 1935 and used as an orchestral number only by Ray Noble in The Big Broadcast Of 1936. We know Bing didn't record it, but here is an extraordinary and no doubt erroneous quote from one of my reference books: 'He [Ray Noble] had previously made one trip to the West Coast to appear in the film The Big Broadcast Of 1936, and it was here that he first met Burns & Allen, together with Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman, who sang the song Why The Stars Come Out At Night.
John Wright: Thanks Barry, Bert and Lionel. Also, according to the George T. Simon
biography (of Glenn Miller), page 68, Ray Noble may have composed Why Stars Come Out At Night in Hollywood, during the period BEFORE he was allowed to lead the American band(before Jan 1935 ?), so that would definitely rule out the song if that is the
extract from files of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Bowlly/
Jack Hylton in 1910 ?
|A Brighton theatre programme came up for sale on Ebay featuring Jack Hylton was on the bill, in
fact maybe top of the bill, and the exciting fact is that the programme was dated 1910, when Jack was just 18.
The billing lists "the comedian Jack Hylton, Hinton & Wooton (presenting a
Football Match on Bicycles), La Noedia (the celebrated continental
artiste), Scottish Meisters, Maggie Carr (vocalist & dancer), Signor
Torti (The Great Italian tenor), Miss Ada Reeve (The famous comedienne),
Joe & Hetty Waldron, Yamamoto & Koyoshi (The celebrated Japanese
Equilibrists), Animated pictures (time permitting)".
This subject was discussed on the British Dance Band Yahoo group. It's not clear whether the programme refers to Hylton senior or Hylton junior. Pete Faint's Hylton website refers to "Jack's first job with his father, sweeping the stage at Rhyl and helping his father (George) into his costume as 'Happy Jack Hylton - The Diminutive Comedian'. Most sources suggest that Jackson Hilton was the christened name, but there is no record of this name being used for professional purposes. An advertisement for Adeler and Sutton’s Pierrot show from 1906 mentions 'Jack Hylton, comedian'. We must wonder does 'Jack Hylton, comedian' refer to senior or junior. In 1906 Jack junior was just fourteen, so he would be diminutive....
extract from files of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/british-dance-bands/
Sam Browne sang with Glenn Miller
|Ronald Pearce wrote to me and sent me a copy of a recording of Sam Browne singing with the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1944.
Recorded on a home-recorder from a radio broadcast, the sound quality is rather poor but Sam's voice can be clearly heard singing Time On My Hands.
One of my colleagues has informed me that the show was transmitted on
short wave to USA and people recorded it there also. There are details in a
book, 'The Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band' by Ed Polic, as follows:
03 Aug 44 (Thu) 8:30-9:00PM Co-Partners Hall, Bedford, England
American Band Of The AEF broadcast AEFP, AFN, BBC-GFP and shortwave to USA
Compere: Captain Glenn Miller - Attendance: 100
Beryl Davis was scheduled to sing with the band on this broadcast but
she was replaced by Dinah Shore.
Jack Payne's Hotel Cecil - as it is today
|I was contacted by Iain McTavish: "My company Interbrand (85 Strand, London) is based in what remains of the Hotel Cecil where I gather Jack
Payne had a dance band in 1925. About nine tenths of the Hotel Cecil was demolished in 1929 and the now
famous Shell Mex House built on the site. The bit of the old hotel that
remains is the frontage onto the Strand which features an impressive arch. This arch led through to a courtyard at the Strand
entrance to the hotel. What you see today beyond the arch is the entrance
to the thirties Shell building".
Iain and I have exchanged photos, scans, sheet music etc. These photos show how, at least, the frontage has been preserved:
Leonard Hopkinson, flautist
|I was contacted by Ken Gasmier:
Ken Gasmier: "I am researching for a biographical article on my old teacher James Hopkinson (1914-2001) who was an orchestral flautist. His father Leonard Hopkinson was also a flautist, working in British symphony orchestras and doing session work of all kinds. I am delighted to find on your web site reference to Leonard playing in various jazz big bands, such as Van Phillips & His Band". (Len Fillis Discography)
John Wright: "Leonard Hopkinson, flautist, is part of the 'collective personnel' for the Van Phillips studio band at Columbia. Harry Karr was the main flautist in the dance band. It's likely that Leonard was added only for the sessions that were recording concert arrangements or light music - only a few of those are listed on the Len Fillis page, there are likely many more light music recordings.
Ken Gasmier: "The BBC Written Archive in Caversham, Reading, was very helpful in allowing me to piece together a chronology of both Leonard's and Jim's UK careers. Leonard was born 17 April 1892. The first documented job I have of Leonard is in the book "Philharmonic Decade" by Thomas Russell which concerns the founding of the London Philharmonic in 1932. In 1932 Leonard is second flute and piccolo of that orchestra. Jim was born in June 1914. He initially learned flute from his father and another teacher at school (a Mr Appelchore). He entered Royal College of Music on a scholarship at age 15 - not so unusual at that time. His teacher there was Robert Murchie - then the leading British player".
John Wright: "Robert Murchie is a name I know, in fact he's in a photo hanging behind my PC! Robert was one of a number of musicians added to the augmented Savoy Hotel dance band that went on a theatre tour in Dec '24 - Jan '25. His name is listed on a copy of a programme which includes an orchestra photo. I have the original photo, it's a large one signed below by conductor Debroy Somers and most of the musicians - Robert was one of the few who didn't sign it! But there is a flute player there, looks a bit older than everyone else! Dvorak's New World Symphony was recorded Dec 19, 1924 with Robert Murchie listed as attending the session".
Ken Gasmier: "Jim believed that the greatest player of his own generation was Arthur Cleghorn. This is a name you may find cropping up in session work a lot.
John Wright: "Yes, Arthur Cleghorn is listed as having worked with studio orchestras in the 1930's including Louis Levy, Jack Payne (just after BBC period) and Geraldo (broadcasts).
Ken Gasmier: "Leonard and family would have known Leon Goosens very well -sat next to him in the LPO and other orchestras. The Goosens also had harp players, conductors etc.
John Wright: "The Goossens also crop up on some sessions, especially Leon, and the harp players Sidonie and Marie".
A twist to this story, still unanswered:
Ken Gasmier: "No George Hopkinson has ever been mentioned to me by James (Leonard's son) or his family but Leonard definitely had a brother who was a noted violinist, Albert Hopkinson. Albert is listed in the major London orchestras, the Queen's Hall SO, LSO, LPO, BBCSO,RPO. His career went from the 20's through to the late 50's I think. He probably also did session work, including film stuff. Leonard's daughter Cecily was also a flautist and she undertook professional work, mainly in South Africa. She did not have quite as long and solid a career as Leonard or James. Cecily is still alive and lives in London and still has her father's flute".
family of Reginald Pursglove
|I have been contacted by family of the Ambrose Orch. violinist Reginald Pursglove. His grandaughter Debra wrote to me with birth/death dates for the Remembrance/Yearbook page. Reginald Pursglove was born in North London on 21st November 1902 and died in Southend-on-Sea on 15 March 1982. Mainly remembered for his work with the Ambrose Orchestra,Reg Pursglove had a prolific career as a violinist working also with other top bandleaders including Ray Noble and Carroll Gibbons and led his own band at Malmaison in London. Mike Thomas has published more information at his website.|
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