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Birmingham Hippodrome

norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
My Dad actually acted as a decoy for Johnny Ray when he was at the Hippodrome in the 50s. My Dad was just a lowly stagehand then. Ray needed to get to a car outside the stage door, but the press and a crowd were hanging around. , Johnny Ray had been whisked off in a car.
At that time Johnny Ray was 'hot news', not because he was a well known American singer, but there were strong rumours that he was getting engaged to the girl singer in the Vic Lewis Band, who were on tour with Ray.

A lot of rubbish, I could have told them that, but the press needed a story.

Nobody seems to have mentioned Billy Eckstine, who appeared at the old Hippodrome. Not only a great singer, but with a superb pedigree. before he turned to singing.
He led a great band, that at one time or another included Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Sonny Stitt, Fats Navarro and Dexter Gordon. Probably not names well know to non jazz fans, but in the world of great jazz musicians, they mean everything.

Billy Eckstine also promoted the 'Billy Eckstine shirt collar'.......who remembers that?

Eddie

Billy was also a fine musician, playing trombone.
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
At that time Johnny Ray was 'hot news', not because he was a well known American singer, but there were strong rumours that he was getting engaged to the girl singer in the Vic Lewis Band, who were on tour with Ray.

A lot of rubbish, I could have told them that, but the press needed a story.

Nobody seems to have mentioned Billy Eckstine, who appeared at the old Hippodrome. Not only a great singer, but with a superb pedigree. before he turned to singing.
He led a great band, that at one time or another included Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Sonny Stitt, Fats Navarro and Dexter Gordon. Probably not names well know to non jazz fans, but in the world of great jazz musicians, they mean everything.

Billy Eckstine also promoted the 'Billy Eckstine shirt collar'.......who remembers that?

Eddie

Billy was also a fine musician, playing trombone.
I used to buy all my 'with it' gear from Zissmans and always had shirts as made for Billy Eckstein (sharkskin), or Frankie Laine. Yes that was some band he had, also he was a great singer and Passing Strangers with Ella has to be up there amongst the greatest.
Bob
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
Trigger - Roy Rogers' side-kick - got 5* accommodation at the Cape Hill M&B stables when they appeared at the Hippodrome. No date, but maybe someone saw them perform ? Viv.

image.jpeg
 

Radiorails

master brummie
Shame the posters were not printed in Birmingham, but the Moss empire (sic) probably had a contract with Tribe Bros. for all the places.
Imagine, Frank Sinatra appearing with a lot of unknowns! I had heard of Billy Ternent, probably on the BBC. Terry Scott is not top of the bill I see but Alma (I thought as a schoolboy at the time) how lovely she was ;) was top of the bill. Maybe it was her big brown eyes, which is just one of the wonderful features of that the girl I married possesses.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alma_Cogan
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
The Frank Sinatra visit was June 1953 and a poster like this sold at auction for $1200.00. I suspect that Alma Cogan (the girl with a chuckle in her voice) was 1958 when Terry Scott is also mentioned. Perhaps Eddie or Maurice will know why, but Billy Ternent did not do the big band tours like Heath, Parnell, Dankworth and Lewis, he appeared I am sure more than once as an accompanying band for the American crooners when they came to the UK on their theatre circuits , although I see that when the Platters came they were accompanied by either Jack Parnell, Vic Lewis or Ken Mackintosh. All of these and more made appearances at the Town Hall and of course the first half of the fifties was the era of the big bands and to impress and catch up with the perfectionists like Heath and Parnell, the new bands had to have a gimmick, Delaney with his Kettle Drums, Lewis with his tributes to my friend Stan and there were two bands whose names I have forgotten who were basically mainly radio bands who also went out on the road....and then came rock and roll and the bands withered and died as did good music. Back to the Hippodrome and we used to go eery Thursday night from 1959 to 1962 and catch all the variety shows and the rock and roll tours Vince Eager, Billy Fury and a lad called Cliff Richards who bumped into me as I came out of the gents, my shoulder was popular for hours afterwards. The best show ever (and I say this as a lover of big bands and modern jazz) was the Billy Cotton Band Show, what an entertainer, does anyone else remember the cotton wall snowballs? or is no else that old? But on the Sinatra bill who were the accompanying acts ...Augustus Peabody?
Bob D
 
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norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
Some of the Sinatra twice nightly shows, were, would you believe, half empty houses.

At that time Sinatra was a little in decline. He had personal problems, and the newer stars i.e: Frankie Laine, Johnny Ray, Guy Mitchell, had taken over the popularity singing stakes.

Bill Miller was Franks Musical Director for many years, still with him in the 1980's after Sinatra's career took on a huge second 'coming'.

Billy Ternent was the Musical Director at the London Palladium for many years in the 50/60's, and would have toured with Sinatra as his backing band, although Bill Miller would have fronted the orchestra for the Sinatra part of the show.

Bob D: Yu are correct to say that the Vic Lewis Band paid homage to Stan Kenton, as did the Frank Weir Band pay homage to Billy May, but Eric Delaney's drums were not 'kettle' drums.

As a percussionist I have to tell you that they are actually timpani tuned drums. Eric used to cringe at the term 'kettle' !!

In 1961, during a summer season in Bournemouth, at the Pavilion Ballroom, Alma Cogan was appearing in the show, at the Pavilion Theatre, part of the same complex. The ballroom musicians would meet up with the theatre musicians after the shows, and a couple of times we attended 'all night parties', and Alma would be there. A lovely lady, full of fun, and died far too early.

Eddie
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
Some of the Sinatra twice nightly shows, were, would you believe, half empty houses.

At that time Sinatra was a little in decline. He had personal problems, and the newer stars i.e: Frankie Laine, Johnny Ray, Guy Mitchell, had taken over the popularity singing stakes.

Bill Miller was Franks Musical Director for many years, still with him in the 1980's after Sinatra's career took on a huge second 'coming'.

Billy Ternent was the Musical Director at the London Palladium for many years in the 50/60's, and would have toured with Sinatra as his backing band, although Bill Miller would have fronted the orchestra for the Sinatra part of the show.

Bob D: Yu are correct to say that the Vic Lewis Band paid homage to Stan Kenton, as did the Frank Weir Band pay homage to Billy May, but Eric Delaney's drums were not 'kettle' drums.

As a percussionist I have to tell you that they are actually timpani tuned drums. Eric used to cringe at the term 'kettle' !!

In 1961, during a summer season in Bournemouth, at the Pavilion Ballroom, Alma Cogan was appearing in the show, at the Pavilion Theatre, part of the same complex. The ballroom musicians would meet up with the theatre musicians after the shows, and a couple of times we attended 'all night parties', and Alma would be there. A lovely lady, full of fun, and died far too early.

Eddie
Thank you. I had forgotten the word timpani, I really knew they weren't Kettle, but needed to remind those who did not know Eric D of what he did, still love his Oranges and Lemons. Thanks for all the info there and the UK lost a treasure when Alma passed on. Did Oscar Rabin tour? Is he one of the bands I saw but cannot remember?

Bob D
 

Radiorails

master brummie
I only went to the Birmingham Hippodrome when my father took me there - between 1947 and 1950, After that I was more likely to be found at the Town Mall concerts.
Incidentally there were quite a few large town in the country that had a Hippodrome - well, Birmingham managed two!
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
I have a very dim memory of sitting in the "Hip" with my parents, I have a feeling it was during the war. There was somebody lighting street lamps on the stage and singing at the same time. I have no idea what the show was but Ivor Novello sticks in my memory.
Would I be right in saying there were opera glasses mounted on the back of each seat ?
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
I have a very dim memory of sitting in the "Hip" with my parents, I have a feeling it was during the war. There was somebody lighting street lamps on the stage and singing at the same time. I have no idea what the show was but Ivor Novello sticks in my memory.
Would I be right in saying there were opera glasses mounted on the back of each seat ?
Ivor Novello had a song called I can give you the starlight, so your two memories could be correct. I think all theatres had opera glasses in selected rows, I don't know about every seat 6d a go.
Bob
 

norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
Thank you. I had forgotten the word timpani, I really knew they weren't Kettle, but needed to remind those who did not know Eric D of what he did, still love his Oranges and Lemons. Thanks for all the info there and the UK lost a treasure when Alma passed on. Did Oscar Rabin tour? Is he one of the bands I saw but cannot remember?

Bob D
The Oscar Rabin Band, under the direction of David Ede, did a lot of broadcasting, and some touring. Oscar Rabin himself, was in the band, playing bass saxophone in the reed section. In fact, during the sixties, the Oscar Rabin band played at the Colville mine workers annual fete, which I was also working at. On the bill was The Four Pennies, who had just had a number one hit with a song called "Juliet" - remember that? They were a bit 'peeved' because they had been booked before the big hit, and they were having to play two spots, at a fete, for about £40/50, instead of a TV show, or a concert. I also reluctantly allowed the drummer with the Four Pennies to use my drum kit. The man had turned up without his own drums, would you believe !! Not a very professionally organised group. The whole show was compered by the great Terry Thomas.

The other broadcasting band that did a bit of concert touring was the Cyril Stapleton Band, and also the Squadronaires.

Eddie
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
The Oscar Rabin Band, under the direction of David Ede, did a lot of broadcasting, and some touring. Oscar Rabin himself, was in the band, playing bass saxophone in the reed section. In fact, during the sixties, the Oscar Rabin band played at the Colville mine workers annual fete, which I was also working at. On the bill was The Four Pennies, who had just had a number one hit with a song called "Juliet" - remember that? They were a bit 'peeved' because they had been booked before the big hit, and they were having to play two spots, at a fete, for about £40/50, instead of a TV show, or a concert. I also reluctantly allowed the drummer with the Four Pennies to use my drum kit. The man had turned up without his own drums, would you believe !! Not a very professionally organised group. The whole show was compered by the great Terry Thomas.

The other broadcasting band that did a bit of concert touring was the Cyril Stapleton Band, and also the Squadronaires.

Eddie
Thanks, I have at the the back of my mind brothers and the name Ivor and I don't think it lasted long. Saw Cyril Stapleton (very formal) but not in Brum, Oxford or Bradford I think
Bob
 

norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
Thanks, I have at the the back of my mind brothers and the name Ivor and I don't think it lasted long. Saw Cyril Stapleton (very formal) but not in Brum, Oxford or Bradford I think
Bob
Ivor (father) and Basil (son)... The Ivor & Basil Kirchin Band. Ivor led the band, but Basil played the drums. Birmingham's own Johnny Patrick was the pianist in the band.

Basil went on to lead the band himself, but in the early sixties he began to fall out of favour.

Eddie
 
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Bob Davis

Bob Davis
Ivor (father) and Basil (son)... The Ivor & Basil Kirchin Band. Ivor lead the band, but Basil played the drums. Birmingham's own Johnny Patrick was the pianist in the band.

Basil went on to lead the band himself, but in the early sixties he began to fall out of favour.

Eddie
Eddie
Many thanks
Bob
 

sospiri

Ex-pat Brummie
My brother-in-law, Rex Dorman, was on bass with the Kirchin Band in Hull for a couple years, I can't remember the dates. From what I heard, it was a bit too jazzy for for the dance circuit.

Maurice
 

norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
Maurice,
I suspect that this posting would be better under my own "Memories" thread, but here goes.

In November 1961 the Jan Ralfini Band moved from the Samson & Hercules Ballroom in Norwich, to Sale Locarno, and the Ritz Ballroom in Manchester.

At the time Beryl continued her stay at the Samson, working evenings in order to obtain extra cash for our forthcoming marriage.

The band that followed us into the Samson was the Basil Kirchin Band (the name meant nothing to Beryl).

The opening Monday evening was dancers night, strict ballroom stuff:...quicksteps, foxtrots, waltzes. Latin American etc.

The dancers changed into their dancing shoes all ready to take the floor. The Kirchin Band opened up with a very fast jazz number, the dancers were dumbfounded, and that continued all evening amid a huge number of complaints from the dancing fraternity.

Beryl said that the majority of the dancers walked out in disgust.
The Kirchin Band were fired on the Saturday evening, having lasted just five nights.

I believe that it was the Mecca Locarno in Hull to which the band was sent, but I doubt that they would have lasted too long there.

In many ways Basil was way ahead of his time, always trying something new, and I think that he eventually gave up the band work, and went into studio, electronics, writing and performing.

In the Kirchin Band days of concerts, Basils drum solo was something to behold. As he played his drum solo, a ring of flames would appear around the drum kit........True. I have no idea what 'elf & safety would say to that these days, but that was Basil..

I did hear that he retired into almost a recluse, and he died some years ago.

Eddie
 

sospiri

Ex-pat Brummie
Eddie,

I'm not surprised and Ronnie Scott and a number of other bandleaders had the same problem. They employed a generally female singer and played a few dance tunes just to get into the ballroom circuit, and for the most of the night played mainly jazz. I can understand why the dancers got a bit miffed, but playing for dancers all night, who are highly critical of the tempo, is boredom supreme.

When I wasn't playing jazz, with a different set of guys, I was doing mainly residential functions with my trio, and that wasn't too bad. During dinner it was a mixture of what today is called smooth jazz, Bach & similar classical pieces, & semi-pop tunes by the likes of Carole King or Simon & Garfunkel. The dancers were certainly not of the ballroom type (what we called twinkle-toes) and if tempos were adjusted to our liking, no one minded. The Canadian owner of the place was a jazz fan, and when the function was over & the people had gone, we would play an hour or so of jazz for his and our pleasure. Everyone was happy.

When Rex left Kirchin, he would do a mixture of cruise work and working with the "Bullseye" guy, Jim Bowen, who also played trumpet and got quite a few trad jazz gigs up north. Jim is the same age as me, and, like me, retired, but Rex still does the occasional cruise engagement at the age of 84.

Maurice
 
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