Monday, 30 January 2017

Jackie Ross born 30 January 1946

Jackie Ross (born Jaculyn Bless Ross 30 January 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri) is an American soul singer.
Chicago soul diva Jackie Ross was born in St. Louis on January 30, 1946; the daughter of husband-and-wife preachers, she made her performing debut on her parents' radio gospel show at the age of three. Following her father's 1954 death, the family relocated to the Windy City; there the legendary Sam Cooke, a friend of her mother, recruited Ross for his SAR label, where she issued her debut single, "Hard Times," in 1962.  

 Following a stint singing with Syl Johnson's band, she signed to Chess Records, making her label bow with 1964's "Selfish One"; which reached #11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart  and #4 on the Cashbox R&B chart. A follow-up, "I've Got The Skill" reached the Hot 100 but stalled at #89 and the following year, "Jerk and Twine", a re-working of "Everything But Love", the song on the other side of her big hit, peaked at #85.
An album, Full Bloom, was released in 1965, which was followed by three more singles which included the superb "Take Me for a Little While." Unbeknownst to Ross, however, the same song had been recently recorded by New York singer Evie Sands as well, and although Sands' version for Blue Cat actually came first, Chess' marketing muscle nevertheless ensured that their label's rendition proved more successful. Ross' disgust with the situation, combined with the negligible royalties she received from "Selfish One," soon prompted her to exit Chess during 1967. 

She later recorded for several labels well into the 1970s, such as Brunswick and Jerry Butler's Fountain Productions. Most of her later recordings were produced by her manager, Jimmy Vanleer's production company and issued on various labels, including GSF, Mercury and Capitol, but she was unable to duplicate the success of "Selfish One" or to recapture her earlier commercial success. 

Then sometime in the early 80s she decided to record a sort of comeback album, like many other 60s soul artists did, and in 1980 she released the album ‘A New Beginning’ on Golden Ear Records. a sophisticated blend of soul, jazz, and a little bit of club – served up with arrangements from Ben Wright and Jimmy Van Leer, the latter of whom produced the record. Jackie works surprisingly well in this setting – with a style that makes us wonder what would have happened had she got a chance at larger exposure at the time. 

In 1981 she cut a pretty fantastic album “Cold Hearted Woman” “for the same label, sadly it never got past the test pressing or promotional phase and was pretty much scrapped, aside from a few copies given out here and there.
 (Info mainly edited from All Music & Wikipedia)
Here’s Jackie performing this classic “Keep your chin up” for the 2007 documentary, "The Strange World Of Northern Soul".

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Paul Gayten born 29 January 1920

Paul Leon Gayten (January 29, 1920 – March 26, 1991) was a seminal figure in New Orleans rhythm & blues, who led a varied career in the music business as a bandleader, producer, label owner, and one-time overseer of the West Coast operation of Chess Records. 
Paul Gayten looms large in the rich history of New Orleans rhythm and blues. He was born in Kentwood, a small town in North Louisiana (population 2,205 at the 2000 census). His mother was the sister of blues pianist Little Brother Montgomery and his other uncles also played piano. Before World War II, in Jackson, Mississippi, Paul played in the bands of Don Dunbar and Doc Parmley while also setting up his own group, Paul Gayten's Sizzling Six, which featured future bebop saxophonist Teddy Edwards. 

During the war, he led a band at the Army base in Biloxi, Mississippi. He then moved to New Orleans and, with a new trio, established a residency at the Club Robin Hood. Gayten's first combo, which included Edgar Blanchard on guitar, first recorded for DeLuxe Records in January 1947 That first session yielded the hit (# 5 R&B), "True (You Don't Love Me)”, and "Since I Fell for You", the latter featuring singer Annie Laurie. Both made the top ten in the US Billboard R&B chart. Gayten also backed singer Chubby Newsom on her hit single "Hip Shakin' Mama". During his 30-month tenure at DeLuxe, Gayten had over 20 singles released on the label. 

In 1949, Gayten expanded his combo into a nine-piece orchestra and moved to Regal Records. There, Gayten wrote the number 1 R&B hit "For You My Love" for Larry Darnell, and recorded "I'll Never Be Free" again with Annie Laurie. His orchestra toured widely, for a period adding saxophonist Hank Mobley and singer Little Jimmy Scott, and appearing on double bills with both Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. 

When Regal folded in 1951, Gayten's contract was bought by Columbia Records, who released eight singles by his band on its OKeh subsidiary (1951-53), with no commercial success. Tired of the road, he returned to New Orleans in 1953 and formed another band featuring Lee Allen, who went on to be one of the top tenor saxophonists of the rock 'n' roll era. 

Beginning in 1954, Gayten decided to quit as a touring bandleader and worked as a talent scout for the New Orleans branch of Chess Records, which also signed him as a recording artist..He discovered Clarence "Frogman" Henry and produced his first hit, "Ain't Got No Home", in 1956, later going on to co-write and produce his biggest hit, "But I Do", in 1961. At Chess, Gayten produced Bobby Charles' "Later Alligator" and played piano on Chuck Berry’s "Carol". In 1956 he also had one of the biggest hits of his own career with "The Music Goes Round And Round", followed up by "Nervous Boogie".

The follow-up, "Tickle Toe", was in the same style, though not quite as exciting (Argo 5300). Curiously, it was the other side, the flute-led "Windy", that charted (# 78). In the UK, this song was a # 2 hit in 1958 under the title "Tom Hark" (by Elias and the Zig Zag Jive Flutes). According to the website,.it is not even Gayten playing on "Windy", but the Ramsey Lewis Trio.

In 1959, Paul recorded two instrumental singles for Berry Gordy's Anna label in Detroit. The first of these, a cover of Bobby Peterson's "The Hunch" (Anna 1106), gave him his last hit (# 68 pop). It was the second record to be released in the UK under Paul's own name (London HLM 8998), the first one being the instrumental "Yo Yo Walk" on the back of the Tune Weavers' "Happy Happy Birthday Baby" (London HL 8503, November '57).
In 1960, tired of nightclub performing, he moved to Los Angeles with his wife, Odile. Paul took the Chess brothers up on their offer to open and run the label's L.A. office, which he continued to do until Chess was sold in 1969. In that year he founded his own (short-lived) independent label, Pzazz Records, which recorded Louis Jordan, among others. He continued to live in Los Angeles with Odile after retiring in the 1970s, and died there aged 71 in March 1991due to complications from bleeding ulcers.

(Info edited from Wikipedia  & BlackCat Rockabilly Europe)

As you may of noticed there is a lack of photographs of Mr. Gayten on the web.


Paul Gayten:Piano
Waldron Joseph:Trombone
Lee Allen:Tenor Sax
Alvin "Red" Tyler:Bariton Sax
Justin Adams:Guitar
Frank Fields:Bass
Frank Parker:Drums Recorded in New Orleans, LA. Tuesday, March 20, 1956
Originally issued on the 1956 single (Checker 836) (78 & 45 RPM)
This recording taken from the 1989 album "Paul Gayten:Chess King of New Orleans" (Chess/MCA CH-9294) (LP)

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Harry Leader born 28 January 1906

Harry Leader (January 28, 1906, London, United Kingdom - January 20, 1987, United Kingdom) was a saxophone player and bandleader from the United Kingdom.
Harry Leader was born in the East End of London on 28th January 1906. He was the son of a Russian trumpeter in the Tsar's Army who became a Professor of Music at St Petersburg Conservatoire. Anglicising the family name, Harry's father set up a grocery store after arrival in this country around the turn of the 20th century. Harry learned to play the violin from his father and, when not assisting in the family business, could be found playing for silent movies.
With the coming of jazz, Harry taught himself to play the saxophone at the age of 14. He later acquired valuable experience playing in clubs in the West End of London, as well as touring. In 1928 he was invited to join Sid Phillips' Melodians, and even took over the direction of the band during a tour of Italy when Sid Phillips had to return to London. No doubt this inspired him to form his own band, which he soon did. Initially it was essentially a combination for recording purposes and Harry made over 12,000 titles m (often under pseudonyms) for Decca's Panachord label as well as Broadcast, Eclipse, HMV and various EMI labels. His biggest hit (recorded on Eclipse 729) was 'Little Man You've Had a Busy Day', which sold 375,000 copies. Indeed, so keen was Harry for this record to be a success he even stood in the streets of London selling it himself!

In the early thirties, Harry Leader played for Teddy Brown as well as for a character known as 'Jack de Yanke' at the Café de Paris. He made his first broadcast with his own band in 1934, commencing a broadcasting career spanning nearly 50 years, during which time his 'line-up' included such famous names as Norrie Paramor, Billy Amstell, Billy Bell, Freddie Gardner, George Chisholm, Nat Temple, Tommy McQuater, Steve Race, Phil Green, Kenny Baker, Johnny Gray, Bert Weedon, Ray Davies and Stanley Black.

Harry Leader's first residency was at the Hammersmith Palais from around 1939 to 1942, after which he moved to the Astoria, playing opposite Jack White until 1955. There followed seasons at Butlin's Holiday Camps until a residency was available at the Regent Ballroom in Brighton, where he stayed until well into the sixties.
Harry's original signature tune was 'Memories of You', but this was later changed to 'Music Maestro Please'. During his extensive broadcasting career, Harry contributed to many series that featured dance bands, as well as having his own 'Harry Leader Show' on television in 1947.
Harry Leader was particularly associated with 'Music While You Work', in which he appeared 215 times. His first appearance was on the 10th August 1941 and his last on 13th June 1966. Apart, that is, from an appearance in the revival series.
Harry was also a gifted composer who, with his wife Rona, produced over 350 songs under various aliases, his best-known composition probably being 'Dragonfly'. Other compositions include 'Just Fancy That', 'Washington Square' and 'Dance, Dance, Dance'.
Oner of Harry's claims to fame was the discovery of two leading popular singers, Clinton Ford and Matt Monro. Readers may well remember the occasion of a 'This is Your Life' television show featuring Matt Monro, in which Harry made a guest appearance.
By the early seventies, Harry's broadcasts were becoming infrequent and he moved down to Brighton where he continued to do gigs and to teach the flute, trumpet, saxophone and clarinet (the instrument with which he is most associated).
In 1972 Harry made an LP for strict-tempo dancing. At this time he called the band 'Harry Leader’s Nu-Set' In 1983 he concluded his broadcasting career with a superb programme in the revived series of 'Music While You Work'.. He rallied his musicians, saying: "Come on lads, let's enjoy ourselves, just like we used to in the old days". Well, Harry certainly did! He was dancing on the rostrum in one piece and the overall broadcast had a sparkle which put some of the other bands to shame. Sadly, it was to be his last broadcast and he died on 20th January 1987.   (Info edited from a bio on

Friday, 27 January 2017

Rick Wayne born 27 January 1938

Rick Wayne (born Learie Carasco, 27 January 1938), OBE,  is a St. Lucian writer, editor, former professional bodybuilder and pop singer.
Wayne was born Learie Carasco in St. Lucia. In the 1950s he immigrated to England, and served two years in the Royal Signals, most of the time in Yorkshire. On returning to civilian life in London, he was spotted singing in a club and successfully auditioned for record producer Joe Meek.


Renamed as Ricky Wayne (a combination of Ricky Nelson and John Wayne), he released a single, "Hot Chickaroo", which was produced by Meek and on which Wayne was backed by The Fabulous Flee-Rakkers. Although the single and its follow-ups were not commercial successes, Wayne established a singing career for several years and for a while had his own show on Radio Luxembourg.
In 1963, at age 25, Wayne placed sixth at the FIHC Mr. Universe contest. In the July 1964 issue of MUSCLE BUILDER, he was hailed as "England's Music-Muscle Man" because of his nightclub singing act in London. Later that year, he won the tall class at the Mr. Europe and placed second in the tall class at the Mr. Universe in Paris. In 1965, he won the short-class title at the IFBB Mr. Universe, held in conjunction with the first-ever Mr. Olympia. He went on to earn the 1967 IFBB Mr. Universe short-class title, as well as the overal at the 1967 Mr. World. He won the 1969 Mr. Universe and the 1970 Mr. World medium-class titles.

Wayne is the author of numerous articles and books on bodybuilding and politics. While pursuing a professional bodybuilding career, he began to write regularly for bodybuilding magazines, particularly Joe Weider's Muscle Builder and Flex in the 1970s and '80s (two separate periods of employment). He also wrote for Dan Lurie's Muscular Development magazine in 1994–95.

Wayne moved back to St. Lucia (where he now resides) and in 1986, in collaboration with his now wife, former US bodybuilder Mae Mollica Sabbagh, founded the Star Publishing Company. Its publications include a newspaper, St Lucia Star, and two magazines, Tropical Traveller and She Caribbean. The St Lucia Star is a hard-hitting controversial newspaper that has incurred the wrath of both major political parties on the island.

Wayne served as an opposition party senator until 1998, when he was booted out of the Senate by then Prime Minister Kenny Anthony for his opposition of a government guarantee of a failing St. Lucian airline.

Wayne is the host of a politically charged local television talk show, simply called Talk, which features on DBS TV for a Thursday-night slot of two and a half hours. He is known for aggressive interviews and fiery comments about various ills on the island. He rails about press freedom, whether locally or internationally.

In 2007, Wayne was honoured as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his contribution to journalism in St. Lucia. (Info edited from Wikipedia & IFBB Caribbean) 

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Alice Babs born 26 January 1924

Alice Babs (born Hildur Alice Nilson; 26 January 1924 – 11 February 2014) was a Swedish singer and actress. She worked in a wide number of genres – Swedish folklore, Elizabethan songs and opera. While she was best known internationally as a jazz singer, Babs also competed as Sweden's first annual competition entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest 1958.
Her parents sang and played in amateur theatre. Growing up, she sang with her mother. Her father took her to Stockholm when she was 13 and got an offer to sing at a nightclub but had to reject the offer. But on the train back home she met a voice coach who promised to give her singing lessons. The lessons couldn't destroy her natural talent and she got more and more attention. 

In 1939 she sang at nightclubs like Berns or China and got a record contract at the age of 15 although her yodelling made her initially popular and the novelty "Swing It, Mr. Teacher" was her first hit, Babs even at the start had a highly appealing voice and a lightly swinging style.  

After making her breakthrough in the film Swing it magistern ('Swing It, Teacher!', 1940), she appeared in more than a dozen Swedish-language films. Despite being cast as the well-behaved, good-hearted, cheerful girl, the youth culture forming with Babs as its icon caused outrage among members of the older generation. A vicar called the Babs cult the "foot and mouth disease of cultural life". 

She mostly recorded in jazz and swing-oriented settings throughout the years of World War II and remained active throughout the 50’s and '60s in Europe, singing everything from jazz and pop to a bit of classical music.

She has performed with all the big names in Swedish music, people like Charlie Norman, Putte Wickman and Arne Domnérus. In 1958, she was the first artist to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in 4th place with the song "Lilla stjärna" ("Little Star"). The same year, she formed Swe-Danes with guitarist Ulrik Neumann and violinist Svend Asmussen. The group would later tour the United States together, before dissolving in 1965.

A long and productive period of collaboration with Duke Ellington began in 1963. Among other works, Babs participated in performances of Ellington's second and third Sacred Concerts which he had written originally for her. Her voice had a range of more than three octaves; Ellington said that when she was not available to sing the parts that he had written for her, he had to use three different singers. . Her important first set with Duke Ellington, Swing It!, does a fine job of summing up her first 15 years on records.

In 1963, her recording of "After You've Gone" (Fontana) reached No. 43 in the British charts.
In 1943 Babs married Nils Ivar Sjöblom (1919–2011). Their three children are Lilleba Sjöblom Lagerbäck (born 1945), Lars-Ivar (Lasse) Sjöblom (born 1948), and Titti Sjöblom (born 1949).
Daughter Titti Sjöblom appeared with her mother in recordings and radio shows from the mid-1950s, and also on an early-1960s advertising for Toy Chewing Gum. At the end of Alice Babs' career, mother and daughter again toured together.
In 1972 Ms. Babs was the first non-opera singer to be named Sweden’s royal court singer. She later became a member of the Royal Academy of Music.Among other honours, her face now graces the arrivals hall at Arlanda airport.
By the late '70s, Alice Babs had become less active, but into the mid-'90s she occasionally performed on special occasions. 1973–2004 Babs and her husband resided in Costa del Sol (in Spain), while still working in Sweden and internationally. In their later years, they returned to Sweden.

Babs suffered from Alzheimer's in her final years, and she died at a nursing home on February 11, 2014 of complications from the disease. She was 90 years old.
(Info edited from Wikipedia, All Music & IMDB)

Second Sacred Concert 1969 Duke Ellington
Alice Babs (vocal)  Johnny Hodges (alto sax)

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Speedy West born 25 January 1924

Wesley Webb "Speedy" West (January 25, 1924 – November 15, 2003) was an American pedal steel guitarist and record producer. He frequently played with Jimmy Bryant, both in their own duo and as part of the regular Capitol Records backing band for Tennessee Ernie Ford and many others. He also played on Loretta Lynn's first single.
Speedy West was among the most innovative and influential steel guitarists in country-music history. A master showman and the originator of the explosive "crash-bar" style of playing, he will be best remembered for a series of exciting instrumental duets he cut in the 1950s with the guitarist Jimmy Bryant, including their classic "The Night Rider".
The son of an amateur gospel singer and guitarist, Wesley West was drawn to the steel guitar as a child. Fired by his admiration for early players such as Leon McAuliffe and Jerry Byrd, he persuaded his parents to buy him a $12 Hawaiian guitar and then rapidly progressed to a more expensive National steel-bodied resonator model.
He married at 17 and spent the Second World War years working successively in a munitions factory and on a farm, all the while honing his craft at local clubs and jam sessions. At the war's end he began to appear regularly on local radio, KWTO, Springfield. During one of these appearances the emcee, Slim Wilson, introduced him as "Speedy" West and the name stuck.
In 1946 he moved his family to Southern California where he juggled work at a drycleaners with membership of a popular local band named the Missouri Wranglers. He also fell under the influence of another renowned steel guitarist, Joaquin Murphey, whose astonishing jazz-influenced single string riffs whilst with Spade Cooley's Orchestra can be seen as a precursor of West's own approach.
In 1948 he was himself hired by Cooley but left after just five months and began to work with the broadcaster and musician Cliffie Stone whose Hometown Jamboree would do much to establish California as a major centre for country music. Stone encouraged his musicians to develop their own style and, through his position as assistant A&R man at Capitol Records, was able to offer them session work.
In 1949 West made his recording début alongside the vocalist Eddie Kirk and a year later played on sessions with Tennessee Ernie Ford and Kay Starr that resulted in the country/pop hits "I'll Never Be Free" and "Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own". As a result he was invited to tour with both stars and in that same year made his début on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. Perhaps more significantly, the label also signed him to a recording contract that led to his now revered duets with Jimmy Bryant. The sides they cut together from 1951 to 1956, once described as "manic country bebop", included "The Night Rider", "Chatter Box" and "Stratosphere Boogie", and have had a major influence.

Following the cancellation of the Hometown Jamboree in 1959, West briefly became a fixture in Las Vegas. In 1960 he produced sessions for a young Kentuckian named Loretta Lynn and was sufficiently impressed with her talent to suggest that she allow him to bring in leading musicians such as Roy Lanham and Harold Hensley rather than the also-rans she had hired. The resulting disc, "Honky Tonk Girl", went on to become her first hit.
He cut a final album for Capitol in 1962, Guitar Spectacular, on which he was joined by Lanham, the guitarist Billy Strange and the legendary R&B drummer Earl Palmer, and then began to concentrate increasingly on work outside of music. He was reunited briefly with Bryant in the late 1970s, a session that was belatedly issued in 1990 as For the Last Time.

In 1980 Speedy West was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. The following year a debilitating stroke left him unable to play his instrument, but he remained a popular fixture at steel-guitar conventions, where his good-humour made him an ideal emcee. He looked back on his playing days with affection. His health deteriorated, and West died on November 15, 2003, in Broken Bow, Oklahoma.
 “I used to get high, higher than a kite, just playing my guitar. You don't have to use drink and drugs if you love your instrument enough.” (Info from The

Monday, 23 January 2017

Benny Waters born 23 January 1902

Benny Waters (born Benjamin Waters; January 23, 1902, Brighton, Baltimore, Maryland – August 11, 1998, Columbia, Maryland) was a jazz saxophonist and clarinettist.
Longevity, versatility and virtuosity are words that inevitably come to mind when describing Benny Waters. His career as a clarinetist, saxophonist, vocalist, composer and arranger encompassed eight decades, and his playing reflected elements from the entire history of jazz.
Benny Waters grew up in Brighton, Maryland, the youngest of seven children. After discovering his brothers organ and learning how to play, Benny's mother, who was terminally ill, was so moved by his natural ability that she devoted her remaining energy to getting him a formal education in music.
He worked with Charlie Miller from 1918-1921. Benny then attended the New England Conservatory of Music, where he gained invaluable training in harmony and composition and became a teacher; one of his students was Harry Carney. Waters played, arranged for, and recorded with Charlie Johnson's Paradise Ten (1925-1932), an underrated group that also for a time included Benny Carter and Jabbo Smith.
Waters, who was primarily a tenor saxophonist and an occasional clarinetist during this period, was influenced to an extent by Coleman Hawkins, and he recorded with both Clarence Williams and King Oliver in the 1920s. During the next two decades, Waters played in many groups including those led by Fletcher Henderson (for a few months), Hot Lips Page and Claude Hopkins.
Over the next 25 years, Waters played with a number of top big bands, including those of Fletcher Henderson, Hot Lips Page, Claude Hopkins and Jimmie Lunceford.  After that he started his own band and played at the "Red Mill" in New York. After NY he stayed for four years in California. He later played with Roy Milton's R&B band, and in 1949 went to France with the Jimmy Archey Dixieland group.
Waters had long been fascinated with the idea of playing in Paris, and left Archey's band after a tour of Europe to immerse himself in the thriving post-war jazz scene in the City of Lights. From 1952 to 1992 he lived in Paris and in 1996 received the Legion of Honour by the French Ministry of Culture.
Though his playing remained prolific, Waters' career had become so geographically spread out that the media essentially lost track of him, but by the 1980s, he was visiting the U.S. more frequently, and Waters is heard in brilliant form on a 1987 quartet set for Muse on which he plays tenor, alto, and clarinet, in addition to taking some effective vocals.


                         Here's "Always" from above album.

Still going strong at 90, Waters returned to the US, moving to New York in 1992. A car accident and a blinding bout with cataracts were not enough to deter him from once again making his mark stateside. Jazz historian Phil Schapp recalls Benny’s ingenuity in adjusting his playing style to new concepts well into his 90s.
Though Waters never received the recognition he deserved in the United States, his outstanding performances in New York did awaken many more musicians and jazz listeners to his truly legendary credentials.
The seemingly ageless Benny Waters continued recording and performing with a remarkable amount of energy, touring with the Statesmen of Jazz in 1995 and creating some miraculous music prior to his death on August 11, 1998 in Columbia, Maryland.
(Info edited from All Music, & Wikipedia)

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Leslie Sarony born 22 January 1897

Leslie Sarony (born Leslie Legge Frye; 22 January 1897 – 12
February 1985) was a British entertainer, singer and songwriter.
Sarony was born in Surbiton, Surrey, the son of William Henry Frye, alias William Rawstorne Frye, an Irish-born artist and photographer, and his wife, Mary Sarony, who was born in New York City. He was christened as Leslie Legge Tate Frye at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Twickenham, on 5 May 1898. He began his stage career aged 14 with the group Park Eton's Boys. In 1913 he appeared in the revue Hello Tango.
In the Great War, Sarony served (as Private Leslie Sarony Frye) in the London Scottish Regiment and the Royal Army Medical Corps in France and Salonika, and was awarded the Silver War Badge.
His stage credits after the war include revues, pantomimes and musicals, including the London productions of Show Boat and Rio Rita. Sarony became well known in the 1920s and 1930s as a variety artist and radio performer. In 1928 he made a short film made in the Phonofilm sound-on-film system, Hot Water and Vegetabuel. In this film, he sang, interspersed with his comic patter, the two eponymous songs – the first as a typical Cockney geezer outside a pub, the second (still outside the pub) as a less typical vegetable rights campaigner ("Don't be cruel to a vegetabuel").
He went on to make a number of recordings of novelty songs, such as "He Played his Ukulele as the Ship Went Down", including several with Jack Hylton and his Orchestra. He teamed up with Leslie Holmes in 1933 under the name The Two Leslies. The partnership lasted until 1946. Their recorded output included such gems as "I'm a Little Prairie Flower". His song "Jollity Farm" was covered by Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band on their 1967 album Gorilla.

While the name of Leslie Sarony may have become unfamiliar to new generations by the 1970s, within the entertainment business he had become a living legend. He continued to perform into his eighties, moving on to television and films. In the 1970s he appeared in hit programmes including the Harry Worth Show, Crossroads, Z-Cars, The Good Old Days, and The Liberace Show, as well as the famous sitcom Nearest and Dearest. He took over from Bert Palmer as the senile Uncle Stavely ("I heard that! Pardon?") in the fourth and final series of I Didn't Know You Cared in 1979. Other appearances included Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV and Minder, and in 1984 he had a showy bit part as the Gatekeeper in Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street. Also in 1984 he was on a television variety bill broadcast from Manchester.
Sarony did get to re-record some of his old hits with modern arrangements for an LP in 1980, and soon afterwards was awarded a Golden Tuning Fork by the Songwriters Guild of Great Britain for his lifetime’s achievement as a composer.
In 1983 Sarony appeared in his second Royal Variety performance. He also appeared as one of a number of elderly insurance clerks in the The Crimson Permanent Assurance segment of Monty Python's film The Meaning of Life.
 Leslie died of cancer in a London hospital 12 February 1985. Active almost to the very end, at 88 he was the oldest working actor on Equity’s books. He had been an ‘entertainist’ for over three-quarters of a century.  (Info edited from Wikipedia & Voices of

Here’s Leslie Sarony late in life – well into his 80s – in a TV appearance where he sings The Old Sow (a traditional folk song involving bizarre vocal effects that he made his own) and his classic Aint It Grand to be Blooming Well Dead.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Art Kassel born 18 January 1896

Art Kassel (18 January 1896, Chicago, Illinois - 3 February 1965, Van Nuys, California) was a saxophonist, clarinetist and leader of "Kassels in the Air" (his tag line), a society orchestra which purveyed 'sweet' (rather then swing) dance music to audiences in the Midwest.
Art Kassel did not start out in radio, he just got there in a hurry. He began in Chicago playing in dixieland bands around 1923. It was a struggle. Eventually he found his way into playing "sweet" ballroom dance music. It was pure schmaltz. But it paid well.
He formed his first dance band in 1924 for an appearance at the Midway Gardens in Chicago In 1926 his orchestra then started playing the Venetian room of the Southmoor Hotel in Chicago. That was significant. Ballrooms were a good gig, but hotels were a regular paycheck. In 1928 his band began playing at the Metropole Hotel.  (This venue was also the headquarters for Al Capone.) In 1929 he broke into radio. His own Castles in the Air program debuted live at Al Tearney's Grand Auto Inn.  It was at Grand Boulevard and 35th street on the South Side of Chicago.This was a live broadcast for WBBM.
That attention got them a gig at a bigger venue before the end of 1929.  They were playing at the Terrace Casino room of the Morrison Hotel, still on WBBM. In 1930 they moved to the even bigger place, the Walnut Room at The Bismark Hotel. In his book That Toddlin' Town: Chicago's White Dance Bands and Orchestras, Charles Sengstok described the situation thus:
"Since most dance bands sounded alike in those days the challenge for an orchestra broadcasting frequently from one dance venue or another was to develop a special sound that would quickly identify it to listeners.  bands introduced theme songs and tag lines The Musical Gems Of Ray Pearl" or "Art Kassel And His Kassels In The Air." But more than that, they hired arrangers to give their music a distinctive sound, which often resulted in music with more style than substance."

This rather wild arrangement of the Kassel composition turned out to be one of his most successful recordings. He did a “Hell’s Bells” remake for Bluebird in 1939. Originally issued on 78rpm: Columbia 2682-D - Hell’s Bells (Kassel) by Art Kassel & his Kassels In The Air, vocals by band members Ralph Morris, Ding Johnson, & Floyd Townes, recorded in NYC June 27, 1932.

Though in its early years the band boasted such jazz artists as Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, and Mugsy Spanier. Recording for RCA Victor, the group’s vocalists were Norman Ruvell, Thal Taylor, Billie Leach, Harvey Crawford, Grace Dunn, Marian Holmes, Gloria Hart and the group’s own three-piece vocal act, the Kassel Trio. Led by Kassel himself on saxophone, the orchestra’s engagements after their Midway Gardens bow included the Aragon and Trianon Ballrooms in Chicago, with frequent airplay on the sponsored Shell Oil Company Show, Elgin Watch Show and Wildroot Hair Oil Show.
In 1933 they were playing twice a day on 670 WMAQ-AM; once at 7:15 and again after 12:30 PM. That show was carried on the NBC Red Network. In the 1940s they moved the show to The Aragon Ballroom and WGN-AM carried the program. Then on tour in 1940 they did a set of shows on WOR-AM. On December 22nd, 1944 they returned to the Bismark Hotel still live, but still with WGN-AM. But that was just home base, they toured every year not taking a break until 1952, that's 25 consecutive years. In that time it's also worth noting that one of his vocalists, Billy Leach had his own radio career that took off. 

 In 1951 Art moved to Encino California where he appeared for two years with a new orchestra on a local television program, The Gloria Hart Show. He never went back to radio. He died 3 February, 1965 of cancer.
After Kassel’s death his band continued to play the west coast circuit, where their theme song, ‘Doodle-Doo-Doo’, was now among dance band music’s most famous compositions.
(Info edited from tenwatts & All Music)