jabw_vintage/report no. 37

Let Us Tell You About.....

Phil Silverstone

Phil Silverstone, violinist, bandleader ( 22 Nov 1902 - 8 May 1992)

this page first published by John Wright, 23 July 2006
last updated 18 December 2012vintage@r2ok.co.uk

Lillian Silverstone has submitted this biography of her father Phil Silverstone

Lillian: "Phil Silverstone began playing the violin at age ten when he studied with a private teacher. Later, he studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London under John Saunders. Dad always told me that his teacher told him to go out and get a job when he was still a teenager. That job was for Grand Centrals, Limited, who hired him as second violinist at the Carlton Theatre, Tottenham Court Road (a silent movie house I think). I have scanned the letter dated February 14, 1918, confirming his engagement; he was 15 years old. Later, at about 16, he played at a picture house in Boscombe for 7 per week, of which he sent home 2 to his mother, which she saved for him. Just a teenager, he felt very flush with pound notes always in his pocket".

"An agent took Phil on, and as a result he was engaged by J. Lyons & Co., playing at the Trocadero in Shaftesbury Avenue, where he gained much experience under Jacobs, the Dutch violinist, Arthur Beckwith, Percy Frostick(sic), and other well-known musicians. Other players Phil remembered playing with at the Trocadero were Johnny Cantor and Adolf Zimbla. Phil also stated that he played at the "Picture House" in Gt. Windmill Street for three years.
Later on, Phil was 2nd violin with Jacobs again at the Berkeley Restaurant in Berkeley Street along with Snock(sic) the pianist; he earned 8 per week. There were five musicians under Jacobs' direction, and Phil said that every session was a learning experience".

Phil played at the Cosmo Club in Wardour Street for three years, first leading the (Original) London Radio Dance Band which had 'reformed' in 1928 (when Jack Payne became leader of the BBC Dance Orchestra). Phil would therefore have been a member of the band which cut six recordings in March 1928 (Mike Thomas has already confirmed this in his BDBR amendments published in TMR).

Later Phil was a member of Jack Padbury's Cosmo Club Six. This band attended about five recording sessions at Edison Bell during 1929-1930 and also sessions at the Piccadilly studio as support band to vocalist Vivienne Lambelet.

Here are two examples of Phil Silverstone's excellent solo work:

The jazzy sound for My Kinda Love

and a chorus for My Little Fella And Me

Phil worked with the Teddy Joyce Orchestra at the "Kit Cat" Restaurant (Lillian Silverstone: I have scanned an interesting piece of cubist art that a customer did for Phil - if you look at it just right, it says "Violinist" vertically and "Phil Silverstone" horizontally).

Lillian Silverstone has a programme fragment, attached, listing the players in Teddy Joyce and his Band (date unknown).

The Rust/Forbes discography for the Joyce bands lists violinist 'Phil Sylvester' during the 'Masterkeys' Sterno sessions Feb-Mar 1934, and the Joyce recording sessions with Sterno and HMV from Aug 1934 - June 1935. It's possible that Phil was present at other Joyce sessions earlier in 1934.

Lillian explains "He sometimes went by the name Phil Silverston (no E at the end), and he also called himself Phillip Sylvester for a time".

Phil also played at Lyons Maison in Marble Arch, London (scanned, left, is a caricature of him dated 1937 done by a customer - artist unknown).

In 1938, using the name Phil Sylvester, he led the Orchestra at the Hotel Majestic, St. Annes-on-the-Sea, Lancashire, presented by Geraldo. In September of that year, the band performed at a benefit for the War Memorial Hospital in St.Annes, raising 50-17-7, a sizeable sum at the time and double the previous year's take for the same event.

Phil was part of the orchestra (led by Carroll Gibbons) for a show called "Up and Doing" at the Saville Theatre (attached photo of entire cast and band at Windsor Castle - date 1942. Gibbons is centre.).

During the 2nd World War, Phil played at the Savoy Hotel where he deputized whilst the Savoy Band was on holiday. He was deferred from military service (I'm not sure why). Phil is also listed at recording sessions with the Lew Stone band in Jan 1941.

In 1942 Phil met Joe Loss and played first violin with the Joe Loss Band until 1948. He travelled to Europe to play for the troops for ENSA with Joe Loss (a 1944 photograph of the band taken in Brussels with autographs of everyone is scanned and attached).

Later, for several seasons around 1963, Phil played in the band with Joe Orlando at Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland, which he loved because he was an avid golfer, photo attached.

For a short time, Phil called himself Phil Rich, and had a dance band under that name at the Blue Lagoon in Clacton-on-Sea in about 1961.

Phil's career spanned approximately seventy years, and even up to his mid and late eighties he still played for Friendship Clubs at London synagogues with piano player, Rosa Butwick, for what he called "the old folks." His last paying gig before retiring at age 80 was at Claridges Hotel where he was part of a small combo that played in the lounge nightly from 1979 to around 1982.

Below is a selection of other photos and cuttings from Lillian Silverstone:

The first photo is a very interesting band shot, possibly from the Cosmo Club, but identifications of musicians are welcome.

in that last photo the young Phil Silverstone is extreme right, and the other fellas may be musicians from the late 1920's.

(c) Lillian Silverstone/John Wright 2006

You can join the very active discussion groups and talk about dance bands and jazz bands of the 1920s-1950s:

The Facebook group: Golden Age of British Dance Bands

The Yahoo group:

Subscribe to British dance bands group

or check out the group site first at http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/british-dance-bands/


E-mail John Wright me if you want to contribute information or scanned photographs to this page

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