Trumpeter who spearheaded the Trad boom and toured for over 40 years
Kenneth Daniel Ball, bandleader, trumpeter and vocalist: born Ilford, Essex 22 May 1930; married (three children); died Basildon, Essex 7 March 2013.
From The Independent 7th March 2013
The most commercially successful band of the Trad boom of the early 1960s was Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen. Their four Top 10 hits included the internationally successful “Midnight In Moscow”, and for over 40 years they were among the busiest of touring bands. With a huge sense of fun and joie de vivre they entertained thousands who otherwise would never have thought of going to a jazz concert.
A witty and engaging raconteur, Kenny Ball, who was born in Ilford in 1930, told me how he got started. “In 1943, I joined the sea cadets and got a bugle, but you can only play five notes on a bugle. I thought of playing a trumpet instead because Betty Grable had just married Harry James. I picked up the trumpet to get the crumpet.”
After National Service, in 1950 Ball played with local jazz bands. He turned professional with Sid Phillips in 1953 and moved to Eric Delaney’s band in 1956. “I had a flirtation with rock’n’roll with Eric Delaney. He wanted some silly sod to sing ‘Giddy Up A Ding Dong’ and ‘Rock Around The Clock’, and I did quite well and got my clothes ripped off on a few occasions.”
In 1958 he joined Terry Lightfoot and his New Orleans Jazzmen but Ball, trombonist John Bennett and pianist Barney Bates got bored with only playing New Orleans music and so Kenny Ball’s Jazzmen started at a jazz club in Southend that October. Ron Bowden came from Chris Barber’s band and remained Ball’s drummer for nearly 40 years. In 1961, Terry Lightfoot’s brother Paddy joined on banjo. Melody Maker jazz critic Steve Race wrote, “If the band can swing in a studio the way it does in a British legion hall, some bright recording company could have a new Barber band on its hands.”