Chick Henderson (November 22, 1912—June 24, 1944) was an English singer who achieved popularity and acclaim as a prolific recording artist and performer with dance bands during the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Chick Henderson was born Henderson Rowntree in West Hartlepool, England. As a boy he loved to sing and was an active member of a church choir. He was heard by Harry Leader and given an audition, who immediately signed him up in 1935. Chick started recording with the band in 1935 and made three records on the Eclipse Label. His first recording was ‘Zing Went the Strings of My Heart’, matrix 2544-1, on 15th June 1935, and released on Eclipse 1011. Chick made his first broadcast on the BBC in August 1935. Chick joined the Joe Loss Band in September 1935 after having been heard on radio. He cut the first Joe Loss records on 22nd October 1935 in the London HMV studios, ‘Wyoming in the Gloaming’, OEA-1998-1, and ‘The General’s Fast Asleep’, OEA-2000-1. Chick and Joe Loss went on to record over 250 tracks.
Even though Chick was the principal singer for Joe Loss, he continued to make records on Columbia and Regal Zonophone with Harry Leader. The mid 1930’s is a period which is difficult for record collectors and historians. Columbia used the name Harry Leader but Regal Zonophone released Harry Leader discs under a number of aliases such as Wally Bishop, International Novelty Orchestra, and Mel Rose. To complicate things further these sides were released in Australia under all these names and also as The Rhythmic Troubadours on RZ. Some Joe Loss tracks also used these aliases.
In October 1936, Joe Loss contracted to RZ. Their first RZ record was ‘When Did You Leave Heaven’ and ‘You’ve Got To Blow Your Own Trumpet’.
From all accounts Chick Henderson was a shy and modest person who loved to spend quiet weekends with his family and friends, but at least once a month he was in the recording studio with Joe Loss, usually putting down about four numbers each session. Very few recordings required more than one take.
In July 1937 he made his first solo recording ‘Greatest Mistake Of My Life’ and ‘Broken Hearted Clown’. He had only accordion and piano as accompaniment. It was not until November 1937 that his other solo disc was recorded on RZ, and it was the only time that the label credit reversed the order, Chick Henderson with Joe Loss. His best seller was ‘Begin The Beguine’ of 5/7/1939, but he made a large number very highly regarded discs. Chick received £4 for the recording session, while Joe Loss picked up a gold disc!
In 1940 Chick recorded eight tracks with Harry Roy, three with Organ Dance Band & Me, and four with London Piano Accordion Band. His last recording session was in 1942 in Glasgow with Joe Loss.
Less than a year following the start of World War II in September 1939, he began serving in the Merchant Navy. He survived two torpedo attacks on his ships, but after four years of service, sustained fatal wounds in Southsea from flying bomb shrapnel. Chick Henderson was 31 years old. A Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, on strength of HMS Victory at time of his death, he was buried in Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery under his real name.
After a recording career of only seven years, Chick made about 280 tracks although his name is not on the majority of labels. He made 19 with Harry Leader, and 242 (247?) with Joe Loss, plus 2 with instrumental accompaniment. Some of his recordings were not released in Australia in 78 rpm format. Strangely it took many years before EMI started to release compilations on LP and Cassette.
(Info mainly edited from a short article written by Doug Hamilton 17 Jan 2000)