Loss was born in Spitalfields, London, the youngest of four children. His parents, Israel and Ada Loss, were Russian Jews and first cousins. His father was a cabinet-maker who had an office furnishing business. Loss was educated at Jews' Free School, Trinity College of Music and the London College of Music. He started violin lessons at the age of seven and later played violin at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool and also with Oscar Rabin.
He developed a passion for dance music and while still in his teens he formed 'The Magnetic Dance Band'. Despite this, Joe's first professional engagements were at the local cinema where he would accompany the silent movies of the day. Loss started band leading in the early 1930s, Joe went on to play with various dance orchestras at that time, and by 1930 he had formed his first professional seven piece band working at the Astoria Ballroom and soon breaking into variety at the Kit-Cat Club. In 1933 its reputation had grown to the point where it was called upon to make its first radio broadcast.
In 1934 he topped the bill at the Holborn Empire but in the same year moved back to the Astoria Ballroom where he led a twelve piece band. With broadcasting, recording and annual tours in addition to the resident work the band became highly popular over the next few years.
The band was extremely successful before the outbreak of war though its style was always 'straight' dance music and could not be classified properly as jazz. Joe's approach was to cater for the dancing public first and foremost but so many of his performances delighted listeners too. His recordings from 1935 to 1942 were greatly enriched by the voice of Chick Henderson who spent most of his professional career with the Loss Band. Vera Lynn made her first broadcast with Joe Loss in 1935. Joe managed to keep the band together despite the war and even played to the British Expeditionary Force in France during 1940.
In the 1950s Loss was resident band leader at the Hammersmith Palais and was remembered by a trainee nurse at Hammersmith Hospital as being as kind and gentlemanly when she attended him in hospital as in his public persona. His band's signature tune "In the Mood" would often be requested three or more times a night.
In April 1951 Elizabeth Batey, vocalist with Joe Loss, fell and broke her jaw. Joe was badly in need of a replacement and remembered hearing Rose Brennan on radio during a visit to Ireland. Within days he had located her and, before a week was out, she was in Manchester rehearsing with the band. She stayed with Loss for fifteen years, before giving up show-business in the mid 1960s. She wrote many of the songs she recorded with Joe Loss under the name Marella, and co-wrote songs with John Harris. Her co-vocalist with the orchestra from 1955 was Ross MacManus (father of Elvis Costello).
The early 1960s gave the band more recognition with five entries in the pop singles charts with 'Wheels Cha Cha', a revival of the String-A-Longs' hit 'Wheels', “Sucu Sucu” (from Top Secret), the theme from Maigret, Must Be Madison and March Of The Mods.
The popularity of the Joe Loss orchestra withstood the rapid changes that took place after the war, and unashamedly pandered to the fashions of the time. As the dance halls gave way to
television so did the band. By playing whatever was proving popular at the time the band never became anachronistic and outlasted all its rivals- playing up until 1990 without a break - a record without equal (in England). He adapted his approach as musical styles changed over the years but always maintained a high standard, and in recognition of this Joe was awarded the OBE in 1978 for services to music.
He was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions: in May 1963 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews, and again in October 1980, when Andrews surprised him at London’s Portman Hotel during a star-studded party to celebrate Joe’s 50 years in show business.
The Joe Loss Orchestra carries on under the musical direction of Todd Miller, who was a vocalist with the band for 19 years before Loss's death. In 1989 Joe Loss became too ill to travel and in 1990 he entrusted the leadership solely to Todd. Loss died on 6 June 1990 and is buried at Bushey Jewish Cemetery in Hertfordshire
The orchestra has been in constant operation since 1930 and in 2010 it celebrated its 80th anniversary. (Info mainly Wikipedia)
A rare UK Pathescope 9.5mm 1 reel sound film T.9313 of a UK British Lion musical cinema short of the 1930s.
"Love Is Like A Cigarette" from Joe Loss & his Orchestra with a vocal from a very young Vera Lynn;
The Petite Ascots tap-dance to "Whispering", "Some Of These Days" & "Nobody's Sweetheart";
Stanelli & Edgar do impersonations on violins.