Above: the band in 1969 on the Morecambe and Wise Show. Personnel included Andy Cooper on clarinet, John Bennett on trombone, Paddy Lightfoot on banjo and Ron Bowden on Drums.
By Clare Teal (reblogged from here)
RIP KENNY BALL 22/05/30 – 07/03/13
Last May I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon in the company of a British jazz trumpeter and band leader of over 54 years. I was a little nervous to be interviewing jazz royalty, but the don of dixieland immediately put me at ease, it was a sunny day but like most studios ours was windowless and quite dark, 82 year old Kenny Ball turned up suited and booted wearing big dark sunglasses, “Sorry for the shades, I’ve got terrible hay fever.” Someone asked if he’d like a glass of water, “No thanks but a coffee and a large brandy wouldn’t go amiss.” It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Never one to let a soul drink alone, the producer found me a bottle of cider and we started the interview with a toast.
Kenny Ball was born in Ilford in 1930. He joined the sea cadets as a boy and was given a 5 note bugle. In 1943 clutching the £10 his father had given him, he travelled across London to buy the trumpet he’d seen advertised in Melody Maker, according to Kenny at that time spare metal was collected as part of the war effort, so brass instruments were hard to come by. On arrival the chap selling said trumpet, told the youngster, “You’d better come in – there’s been an accident. I was having one last blow last night and the missis got so fed up with the noise, she hit me over the head with it.” Kenny left some time later with a bent trumpet and £2 change. He straightened it out against a tree and got to work.
He started his career as a sideman in the bands of Charlie Galbraith, Sid Phillips, Eric Delaney and Terry Lightfoot before forming his own band in 1958. Fourteen hit singles followed including ‘Samantha’ and the million selling ‘Midnight In Moscow,’ the gold disc was presented to him by none other than Louis Armstrong who called him a genius.
Kenny and the boys featured in every BBC Morecambe and Wise TV series and were the resident band on ‘Saturday Night At The Mill,’ sadly, though wonderfully entertaining, many of Kenny’s stories from this period are unprintable…
The band hasn’t stopped working since 1958, they’ve toured the world many times over delighting and inspiring musicians and music lovers everywhere.
Sadly Kenny passed away this morning aged 82. He was a much loved figurehead of the British Jazz industry and will be sorely missed. Let us remember his fantastic contribution to live music. Thanks for the great times Kenny and of course the wonderful music x