Curtains versus Music

At that time indoor golf was all the rage in London. When we finished our job at the Queen’s Hotel, before going home at about 1 o’clock in the morning, we used to cross the road and have ourselves a round of golf, then catch what we called, the Jewish Express for Aldgate. It was so called because its passengers were mostly Jewish musicians from the hotels and clubs.

Dave Rome had a brother who ran a club near Cable Street. It was more of a den used by elderly Jewish gentlemen to play cards. In one of the rooms there was a snooker table where the Rome brothers and I used to play for free until 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning.

Well sad to say, my luck did not hold for long, for my father died in 1930 at the young age of 41, and I as the eldest son went home to look after the business. I soon regained my old connections and because of my association with London and the Queen’s Hotel, I fast became the new rising star in Hull.

In 1931, I joined a local band playing at the Palais in Hull, but during the year, a fire took place and it totally destroyed my instruments which were not insured. I managed to survive, get new instruments and continued running my Dad’s business, which now had expanded to two shops. After a while, I could not stand the life I was leading and eventually returned to London again to seek my good fortune.  The businesses weren’t paying, and I wasn’t a good learner of the trade. At the same time the local musicians were reluctant to take on these new styles of music.

PrintI soon found work doing a few weeks with Al Kendal and his stage band at the Locarno Ballroom, as it was called in Streatham. On a Sunday night it seemed as though the whole of the East End of Jewish youth were there.

My next move was to audition for a job in Newcastle at the Oxford Galleries which I duly got. The band had already been in residence some months before I arrived and I joined them in the last six weeks of their contract. Then we all came back to London to look for more work, the band became no more.

A slice of good luck

Then towards the end of our stay a slice of good luck came my way. A chap came in and introduced himself to the band and said he was looking for players to take back with him to the Plaza Ballroom Glasgow.

It later transpired that I was the only one he took with him; this chap’s name was Alex Freer. He had been at the Plaza many years before, eventually marrying a well of Newcastle girl whose family was in the business of tea and at that moment had decided music was no longer for him, and after marrying the girl he went with her to live in Newcastle. But after a couple of years, an offer was made for him to come back to Glasgow.

Alex Freer big band tuesday june 5th 1934The call was too strong to resist and he was ready to pack his bags and return to his native domain where he was indeed king and extremely popular, especially with the Jewish community. During my negotiations with Alex I was able to secure a job for my brother Benny Daniels, who at the time was in London and not doing too well. Before the Glasgow job commenced, there was a gap of 3 months to be filled up. In the first week of my return to London and a visit to Archer Street, I was offered a try-out with Lou Preager and his band who were working at Ciro’s club on Orange Street. h is was one of the top notch places in the West End and as I thought, suited me down to the ground and was ideal for a fill in job for the 3 months I was to be out of work before starting the Glasgow job.

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