Edmundo Ros OBE FRAM (7 December 1910 – 21 October 2011), born Edmund William Ross, was a Trinidadian musician, vocalist, arranger and bandleader who made his career in Britain. He directed a highly popular Latin American orchestra, had an extensive recording career and owned one of London's leading nightclubs.
Edmund William Ross was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. His mother Luisa Urquart was a teacher, thought to be descended from indigenous Caribs, and his father, William Hope-Ross, was of Scottish descent. He was the eldest of four children, having two sisters, Ruby and Eleanor, followed by a half-brother, Hugo. His parents separated after Hugo was born, and after various false steps Edmund was enrolled in a military academy. There he became interested in music and learned to play the euphonium. From 1927 to 1937 his family lived in Caracas, Venezuela.
He played in the Venezuelan Military Academy Band as well as being a tympanist in the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra. As Sue Steward noted in his obituary: "His local name, 'Edmundo Ros', launched a lasting myth that he was Venezuelan." Later he received a music scholarship from the Venezuelan government, and, from 1937 to 1942, studied harmony, composition and orchestration at the Royal Academy of Music. At the same time he was the vocalist and percussionist in Don Marino Baretto's band at the Embassy Club, and also recorded several sides as a sideman to Fats Waller, who was visiting London in 1938.
In August 1940, Ros formed his own rumba band, performing as Edmundo Ros and His Rumba Band. In 1941 he cut his first tracks with Parlophone, the first number being "Los Hijos de Buda". The band played regularly at the Coconut Grove club in Regent Street, attracting members of high society.
Ros's bands were always based in London nightclubs or restaurants. The first was the Cosmo Club in Wardour Street; then followed the St Regis Hotel, Cork Street, the Coconut Grove and the Bagatelle Restaurant. At the Bagatelle a visit from Princess Elizabeth and party made his name. The future queen danced in public for the first time to Edmundo's music. In later years his orchestra was often invited to play at Buckingham Palace.
In 1951 Ros bought the Coconut Grove on Regent Street and in 1964 renamed it Edmundo Ros's Dinner and Supper Club. The club became popular for its atmosphere and music, but it closed in 1965, when legalised casino gambling had drawn away many of its best customers. During the 1950s and 1960s the Ros orchestra appeared frequently on BBC Radio, continuing into the early 1970s on Radio Two Ballroom.
In 1975, during Ros's seventh tour of Japan, his band's Musicians' Union shop steward tried to usurp Ros's authority by making arrangements with venues behind his back. Upon their return to the UK Ros organised a celebratory dinner after a BBC recording session and announced the disbanding of the orchestra. He destroyed almost all the charts (arrangement sheets), which conclusively ended the orchestra's existence.
He retired and moved to Jávea, Alicante (Spain) with his wife Susan. He gave his last public performance on 8 January 1994 in which he conducted and sang with the BBC Big Band with Strings at The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. The other conductor was Stanley Black. The concert was broadcast over BBC Radio 2 and it was such a success that a Japanese recording company invited them into a recording studio in London to make yet another Edmundo Ros CD.
In the 2000 New Year's Honours List, Ros (then aged 90), was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). He died on 21 October 2011, shortly before his 101st birthday. (Info mainly Wikipedia)