A modernist at heart
modernist at heart
I was born in
Then on to Gibraltar for a nightclub job that lasted from 1950 until 1952. When I returned I found two offers awaiting me, one from Ivy Benson and the other from the trumpeter Gracie Cole, who had up until then been working with Ivy's band. Gracie had now formed her own orchestra. I played a few times with both bands and decided to join Gracie Cole.
So there I was in this great band after only very few
years in the business. Many of the arrangements we played had been written
by Johnny Dankworth, and the band was hot! In 1954 we played the Jazz
Jamboree at the Gaumont State Kilburn. We were the first all girls band
to do this and we caused a sensation. It was around this time that I was
voted best girl drummer
In 1956 the tenor saxophonist Eleanor ‘
In 1957 I joined the Dinah Dee All Girl's Band; a year later we were featured on television in "6.5. Special". I stayed with Dinah until 1960, then, in 1963, I retired after twelve years of touring to set up my own business.
I worked for twenty-five
years in The Netherlands as an office manager for a Dutch charity, then,
in 1993 I moved back down to Sidmouth in Devon. There I joined the Sidmouth
Town Band as percussionist, finally retiring from music altogether in
Here are some press quotes:
Tonbridge Free Press,
Dancing Times by Dancelot. Dublin Four Provinces Ballroom. “ …. In complete agreement with the verbal laurels won by the girl conductor [Gracie Cole] and her all girl band. There was an elusive sweetness (can’t find a better word to describe the combination of tone and beat that she introduced in everyday tunes) about the Cole presentation that tickled heart as well as toes. ….”
Photograph of band. Caption: “Gracie Cole’s performance at the Jamboree is worthy of special mention , says Tony Brown. … ”
The New Musical Express,
On another page, “…. They have toured all
over this country, and given performances in
Paper unknown. Headline, “Dinah Dee’s damsels set entertainment up-beat”. “ …. Favouring the Miller big band sound … “
Landstuhl News. Headline, “Girl band big smash at NCO Club”. “ …. All of the girls speak very proper English but their music is strictly American …. ”.
Daily Mail, 7 May 1993. Double page spread. Following Ivy Benson’s death, tribute to Ivy and her band.