78rpm and Vintage Music Researches and Discussions

from 2004

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this page first published by John Wright, 29 March 2004
last update 2 December 2004vintage@r2ok.co.uk

Do you have an interest to share?Was there an important musician in your family?

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December 2004

American musicians who visited Britain in the 1920's-1930's
Much research has been published on the activities and recordings made in Britain by American negro bands during the 1920's. These bands played hot jazz at various clubs in London. Less-well researched are the visits by the American hotel dance bands and smaller bands, mainly white, who were also visiting Britain at that time. Dates and personnel can be found by searching ship passenger lists and contemporary press. Some research on the Southern-Rag-A-Jazz band has already been published on this website which led to contact with a musician's family in USA who had photographs. It is hoped we can have a similar success with regard to other American dance bands, for example those of Vincent Lopez, Isham Jones, Ted Lewis, Paul Whiteman, Paul Specht etc

My colleagues Joe Moore and Mike Thomas are preparing webpages for some of the American dance bands who visited Britain and you can see the progress at Visiting American Bands

October 2004

Ted Heath - This Is Your Life
I thought dance band fans might want to see several very special photos which Dick Starita sent to me. They were taken during filming of a This Is Your Life TV programme from 1959, devoted to British bandleader Ted Heath. Ted had played in Al Starita's Kit Cat Band in 1925-1928 and must have been astounded when Al Starita turned up at the TV studios in London over 30 years later:
First and second photos:
Ted Heath, Principal Subject of "This Is Your Life" 26.1.59 listens while Al Starita (who was flown to London from Florida especially for the programme) relates some past incidents when he and the Principal Subject played in the same band. Eammon Andrews, compere, stands by with the script.
Third photo:
Ted Heath, principal subject of This Is Your Life: 26.1.59 surrounded by his family and many friends who appeared on the programme.
from left to right:
Paul Carpenter, Dickie Valentine, Mrs. Moira Heath, Mr. Al Starita, Charles Holt, Ted Heath, Martin Heath, Bob Heath, Valerie heath, Raymond Heath. Front row: Timothy and Nicholas Heath. In the background are members of the Foden's Motor Works Band.

August 2004

Starita family contacted
Very excited to say that we have been contacted by the Starita family. Record collectors and fans of dance bands will be familiar with the names of Al, Ray and Rudy Starita, all Italian-Americans and all important musicians in the British dance band scene. So it was with some surprise that I was contacted by the daughter of Julio Starita. Julio was previously unknown to me, because he is not listed as having made records, but Julio too was active in the Britsh dance band scene. His daughter Barbara Starita-Vincent wrote: "I am the younger daughter of the youngest Starita brother, Julio, who was also a musician. Dad played sax and piano. He sailed to London to play in his big brother Ray's band in the early thirties and then traveled to Johannesburg, So. Africa where he lived and played music for a couple of years. I believe dad and his band were employed by a large hotel. Eventually he returned to the states where he met my mother Dorothy. Dad, the last surviving member of his family passed away September 2001. He was 88 and had a very interesting and long life". 

Thanks to Barbara we were later contacted by Dick Starita, son of Al Starita. Dick provided us with a good timeline of activity for Al Starita after he returned to USA:


In 1921 the Starita brothers formed a band in the Boston, USA area.
1923: Al and Ray Starita travelled to Britian, were soon playing with the original Savoy Orpheans.
1925-1928: Al Starita led and recorded prolifically with the Kit-Cat Band
1928-1929: led and recorded with the Piccadilly Players

1934-1941: Played primarily in New England and New York. Mentioned playing frequently at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.

1942-1943: Went on tour with the USO in the States. Played for several bands including the Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. When he was with Carmen Cavallero he played in Florida and loved it so much he decided to move here. The bus stopped in West Palm Beach - he got off!

1944-1960: Led society orchestras and small combos. Played many war benefit gigs in Florida. Played for the Vice-President at a huge ball. Settled down with a large orchestra at the Pennsylvania Hotel in West Palm Beach for a few years. Formed a small combo and a permanent gig at the Okeechobee Bar and Grill in West Palm Beach right where the present Kravit Center stands today. He featured his big bass sax - people came from all around to hear it. Stayed there until his death.

Al always had a day job:
1) Ran his own catering service out of our house
2) Repaired church and house organs in Palm Beach
3) Opened a music studio, teaching all instruments.
4) was the band director at St.Ann's School
5) Worked in the photo-offset printing business- eventually for the Palm Beach Post-Times. He also wrote a column for the paper.

We put Dick Starita in touch with Ned Newitt who has produced a couple of CD's featuring the London bands led by Al Starita. Not surprisingly Dick was delighted when he was able to listen to his father's bands, restored excellently by Ned. You can visit Ned's site at: Mellotone.

Dick also reported that he remembers Ray Starita. "I knew Ray from frequent visits to his huge entertainment complex in Manchester, New Hampshire. This was in the 40's and 50's. I remember him playing the wonderful Hammond Organ at his home".

Percussionist brother Rudy Starita worked in Britain for over 20 years. Dick has added: "After his wartime leading all-girl orchestras in England Rudy moved back to Florida permanently sometime in the late 40's . He opened an antique shop in Palm Beach where he imported art objects from around the world. He sometimes played gigs with Al. His son, Michael, became a drummer and played with Al and several other bands. He became a stockbroker, moved to Denver, and died a few years ago.

I am delighted to say that Dick Starita has also preserved several photos of Al Starita and his brothers. Some of these are currently viewable at the Starita Gallery page


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