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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Web Page 1070
25th August 2012

Top Picture: Joe Loss

Bottom Picture: Victor Sylvester

Two very different Bandleaders

1/ Joe Loss
Joe Loss was the doyen of big bandleaders. His name was synonymous with the best in dance band music.,He had a style and musical policy that kept him at the top of the big band world for 60 years.

He was born Joshua Alexander Loss ,the son of Israel (a skilled cabinet maker) and Ada Loss in London's East End on June 22nd, 1909. His interest in big band music was fostered by the syncopated music of the 1920's but it had to be largely self-taught, because classical music was the order of the day in the Loss household. Joe was trained as a classical violinist and was 10 when he gave his first solo concert in Toynbee Hall. Such was his talent that on his 13th birthday he gained a scholarship to the Trinity School of Music, where he studied for the four years. He was a talented violinist, but the classics were clearly not his forte and he developed a love for jazz and big band music.

In 1930, at 20 Joe became Britain's youngest named bandleader with a 'staff' of professional musicians, and an individual conducing style,, his energetic baton showmanship and his love for the music, soon earned him the No.2 spot at the Astoria Ballroom, London. Two years later, he was at the swish Kit-Kat restaurant and already making his debut on BBC Radio.

Joe became a star in his own right and his musical staff - always fiercely loyal to him - were a No.1 attraction both in London and nationally. By 1937 he had become the biggest name in the world of British big band music and in fact Vera Lynn gave her first broadcast with the band.

By the time the Second World War broke out, his working week consisted of up to nine BBC broadcasts, five afternoon concerts and six evening dances - often during the height of the Blitz. His records have sold millions all over the world; he's introduced countless dance crazes to the country with records like 'Wheels Cha-Cha', the theme from 'Maigret' and 'March Of The Mods'.

He was made a Freeman of the City of London and was proud of his LVO, OBE and HM The Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal. Even after 60 years on the bandstand, Joe Loss still got immeasurable pleasure from playing his He was the doyen of British bandleaders and undisputed maestro of the bandstand. He died in 1990.

2/ Victor Silvester

Victor Marlborough Silvester was born on 25th February 1900[was an author, musician and dance band leader and a significant figure in the development of ballroom dance during the first half of the 20th century, and his records sold 75 million copies from the 1930s through to the 1980s.
He was born the second son of a vicar in Wembley and educated at Ardingly College, St. John's School, Leatherhead and John Lyon School, Harrow, from all of which he absconded. In September 1916 he enlisted in the Army during the First World War and served as a private in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He lied about his age to the recruiting authorities, saying he was 20 when in fact he was only 16. He took part in the Batte of Arras and also was a member of five execution squads, where deserters were shot. Once his age was discovered, he signed up with the First Aid Service and served in France until June 1917. At the age of 18, he re-joined the Army though he did not serve overseas again. After the war he studied at Worcester College, Oxford and decided to resume a military career when he was offered a place at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, but he quickly decided it was not for him. He also studied music at Trinity College, London, having already had private piano lessons as a child.

His interests had turned to dancing and won the first World Ballroom Dancing Championship in 1922 with Phyllis Clarke as his partner. He married Dorothy Newton a few days later. He competed again in 1924, coming second. He went on to open a dancing academy in London, which developed into a chain of 23 dance studios. His teaching had become famous and he had taught some of the top celebrities of the day. By the 1950’s he had his own BBC television show called BBC Dancing Club.

He had formed his own five-piece band in 1935 and later enlarged it to his Ballroom Orchestra whose first record, "You're Dancing on My Heart" sold 17,000 copies and was to become his signature tune. He insisted his recordings conform precisely to the beats per minute recommended a concept termed "strict tempo" so in British eyes he became indelibly associated with the catch-phrase "slow, slow, quick-quick-slow" – a rhythm that occurs in the foxtrot and quickstep.
The Silvester band always had a distinctive sound, achieved by an unusual line-up with not one but two pianos.

His record sales were so huge that competition was inevitable. Other dancers were attracted to the idea, and set up their own strict-tempo bands; there were other bands led by musicians who were capable of recording in strict time. The best for ballroom competition was probably Joe Loss

By 1958, when he published his autobiography, he was the most successful dance band leader in British musical history, and a major star on British radio and television. His BBC Television show Dancing Club lasted 17 years. He also presented a weekly request programme on the BBC Overseas Service (later World Service) which ran from 1948 to 1975. His obituary in The Times noted, "Turn on a radio in Famagusta, Cape Town or Peking and one would be likely to hear his music issuing from the speakers"

Victor Silvester was appointed an OBE in 1961. He died while on holiday in the south of France at the age of 78. The orchestra remained in existence under his son's direction until the 1990s. Victor, his wife, and son are memorialised at Golders Green Crematorium.

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You Write:

I had this sent to me anonymously:-

Office life in the late 1950s

I don't remember there being a break between leaving College and commencing work during the Summer of 1952. The College pointed pupils in the direction of their first jobs by agreement, no doubt, with the companies involved. With little preamble, I soon found myself being introduced to staff members in the office. Once settled at a desk, it didn't feel so different from school, at first, but in no time at all,  I was confronted by an eight-leaf invoice system. It became apparent that this was an integral part of my varied duties, which came as a surprise, particularly as my only maths were rated as being Fair". My job was to calculate the invoices before typing them. Before completion, however, these were checked by the Chief Clerk.

At first, his visits to my desk were quite frequent due to my mistakes. I would hear the
sound of his crepe-soled shoes as he hurried down the corridor bearing the incorrect calculation. "Rubbish, girl" he would declare loudly. His bark was worse than his bite, fortunately, and with the invaluable aid of the office Ready Reckoner I learnt to invoice in tons, cwts, qtrs, lbs and ozs. I always welcomed the diversion of being summoned to take down shorthand and type letters, which I usually enjoyed. I looked forward to excuses to venture into the works.

Office girls socialized a little in the small kitchen making tea and coffee. No instant coffee, mind you, the usual practice was to heat milk and water in a huge pan with real coffee grains - and then strain it into jugs. The aroma was really delicious.

We all got together on an Annual Picnic which included a meal never mind that it poured all day:

News and Views:

Eric Burdon underwent back surgery at the end of July to alleviate pain. The 71 year-old will take the next 3 to 6 months off to recover, pushing his next album back to early 2013.

On this day 25th August 1960-1965

On 25/07/1960 the number one single was Please Don't Tease - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide  and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Plastic carrier bags introduced.

On 25/07/1961 the number one single was You Don't Know - Helen Shapiro and the number one album was Black & White Minstrel Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Berlin Wall erected.

On 25/07/1962 the number one single was I Remember You - Frank Ifield and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street  and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division

On 25/07/1963 the number one single was Sweets For My Sweet - Searchers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coro nation Street  and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 20/07/1964 the number one single was Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Manfred Mann and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Portabl e TVs launched.

On 25/07/1965 the number one single was Help - The Beatles and the number one album was Liverpool. The top rated TV show was "Coronation Street ( and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £not very interesting and 11.69 were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Riviera Police.

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