Google+ Followers

Friday, 1 August 2014

Alan Dean born 1 August 1924

Alan Dean, born in East Ham, London on August 1, 1924, had been a boy soprano who, at voice-breaking time, took up the accordion, on which instrument he got his first professional employment. His hero was star accordionist Tito Burns, whom he used to hear play at the Embassy Club where, in 1942, bandleader Harry Roy overheard Alan running over a song with Tito in the dressing room. Roy was impressed and engaged Alan to broadcast with his band in the "Band of the Week" series. 

Many broadcasts and recordings later Alan formed the Song Pedlars vocal group. He later updated the vocal group concept by forming the Keynotes, which rose to fame in the "Take It From Here" radio series. The group made so many recordings, mainly as back-up singers, that it would be impractical, and of little value, to list them here.

He toured Europe with Oscar Rabin's band, also  recorded a duet with Beryl Davis; played Monte Carlo with Ambrose's orchestra, then went into the vocal-group business.
Alan was the nominal leader of the All Star Sextet which made it's debut at the Downbeat Club on March 14th, 1948. The declared intention of the Sextet was to play only bebop and it was probably the first UK bebop-orientated group to play the clubs, they certainly played enough to qualify as a regular group. 

The All Star Sextet - 1948  Back row: Aubrey Frank, Alan Dean, Reg Arnold and Norman Burns.  Front row: Ralph Sharon, Tommy Pollard and Jack Fallon.
Dean was voted the country's most popular male singer in the Melody Maker 1949-50 popularity poll and retained that position until 1952. In February 1950 he decided to leave The Keynotes in favour of a solo career and he was immediately offered a recording contract by Harry Sarton of Decca.
By mid-1951 Alan realised that he had achieved all he could possibly achieve in Britain. He was topping the bill everywhere and earning top money. He had kept in touch with pianist George Shearing, a colleague from his days with Frank Weir's band, and whose career had taken a great leap forward in America. Shearing advised Alan to "come on over". Then Barry Ulanov, the eminent music critic and editor of Metronome magazine, met Alan in London, heard him sing and gave him the same advice. 

Here's "All The Things You Are" by Alan Dean taken from above 1956 Panama LP - Music To Bawl By

Encouraged by his support, but remaining cautious, Alan decided to 'test the water' on a short holiday in New York, but so quick and positive was the reaction there that he was unable to return to London until 1957, and then only for a few cabaret engagements and Val Parnell's "Startime" on TV. In 1953, almost two years after emigrating to America, he still managed to be voted into fifth place in the Melody Maker poll. 

By the 1980s Alan  was resident in Australia and now lives in Sydney,  where his company, Deanote Productions Pty. Ltd. composes and records music for radio jingles and TV commercials and organises entertainment for the annual conferences of such major companies as IBM. He still sings well and as a leisure activity he enjoys making guest appearances with local jazz bands. 

(Info mainly Kenneth Pitt, 1992. LP cover and mp3 c/o Joseph Bremson of Exciting Sounds blog)

HMV was the first to swoop Alan Dean up and in 1960 he released his first Australian recorded single with a cover of Toni Fisher's 'The Big Hurt' backed with the traditional 'Autumn Affair'.
 The single started to sell minimally but not enough to make the charts. In April he moved to Sydney with his friend Norman Burns who was the A&R man at Pye records. 

Signed to Pye by late that year, he was unable to record anything as he immediately returned to New York to his sick uncle, Orchestra leader Lon Norman.
Before returning to Australia in 1961 he released a single for his uncle's label, Panama Records titled 'Don't Do It/The Come Back' (which will be up soon and is great!) which due to his connections with the Australian Pye label resulted in a one off Panama/Pye release in Australia (Pye PP-020).

This is from 1961 and is one of his worst, rarest moments on disc. It was his try at being somewhere between Slim Dusty and Johnny Ashcroft with a silly song he wrote himself about tuppence and ha'penny.... anyway here it is - rare and rough!

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Alan Dean - Sings Music To Bawl By go here: