Syd Dean, bandleader
b. England, UK
d. August 1, 1993, England, UK.
Syd Dean was born on 4th June 1907 in the village of Wellesbourne near Stratford-upon-Avon. He took up the piano at the age of ten, becoming proficient within a few years. After leaving school he worked for a while with his motor mechanic father, but his heart was in dance music and, determined to join the music profession, he answered an advertisement in 'The Era' in 1926 for a pit orchestra pianist at the Boscombe Hippodrome.

To his surprise, the 'pit orchestra' turned out to be a 25-piece section of the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra directed by Dan Godfrey.

This, however, was not the area of music in which he was most interested, so he took a job with a dance band led by John Birmingham (who was later to die after falling from the balcony of his Earls Court flat). After a spell with a dance band in North Wales, Syd took the opportunity to play a season in a ballroom in Jersey where, for the first time, he realised his ambition to lead his own band. This band included alto-sax player John McCormack, who went on to lead his own band and appeared on 'Music While You Work' from the Midlands. After two seasons Syd moved to a night club in Glasgow but, preferring ballroom work, accepted an offer at the Leicester Palais in 1934.

It seems that in those distant days nobody stayed anywhere for long and Syd was soon off to Toni's Ballroom in Birmingham, switching to the New Plaza Ballroom, Derby, in 1935 for a three year stay. He broadcast for the first time in 1936 as solo pianist in the series 'Keyboard Cavalcade'. His success attracted the attention of the Music Corporation of America, which put him into Madame Tussauds, London — no, not as a waxwork! Over the next two years he played at the Café Normandie (Cliftonville), the Rector's Club (opposite Jack Jackson) and then at the famous Kit-Kat Club. A big break came in 1940 when Syd Dean not only had his first band broadcast but was invited to replace Joe Loss at the Astoria, Charing Cross Road, where his nine-piece band played opposite Jack White — already an established broadcaster.

Unfortunately, war intervened and Syd spent the next four years in the RAF. Although he was able to form a small band at Bomber Command in Nottingham, he ended up on a small island in the Outer Hebrides (but without eight gramophone records!).

Although Gaumont-British (who owned the Astoria) had promised Syd his job back after the war, contractual difficulties with the band already playing there made this impossible. So, Syd Dean was sent to the Regent Ballroom, Brighton, with a 15-piece band which was a tremendous success and very popular with the dancers. He resumed broadcasting and, in 1946, did the first of his 177 'Music While You Work' broadcasts. Over the years, Syd's broadcasts (some of them from the Regent) brought several singers to fame, notably Jill Day, Dick Francis and Rita Williams. Syd also came across a vivacious young singer who impressed him to the extent that he arranged for her to be auditioned at the BBC. The young woman failed the audition and Syd, thinking that his judgement must have been in error, let her go. He must have kicked himself when she topped the Hit Parade, her name was Alma Cogan!
Syd Dean and his Band at The Regent Dance Hall, Brighton in 1948
Syd Dean's band was so popular in Brighton that when he decided to leave in 1959, the local evening paper described him as a 'marvellous unofficial ambassador for Brighton, having publicized the resort in many ways'. He left as a result of a tempting offer from the Orchid Ballroom in Purley, but in the event only had a short stay there before moving on again!

During the following year, he opened at the newly-built Gaumont State Ballroom in Kilburn, where he fronted a nine-piece band consisting of five saxes, trumpet, piano, bass and drums. In 1962 he returned to the Astoria for a year, after which he went back to the Regent. In 1966 it was decided to demolish the Regent Ballroom, so Syd had to move down the road to the Top Rank Suite, where he stayed for a further six years.
Syd Dean specialized in 'straight' ballroom music, but, in common with other bandleaders, he had to make adjustments when fashions changed — he even included a guitar in his band from 1963! Although a prolific broadcaster, Syd Dean and his Band only made a handful of records (mostly 78s), usually backing The Stargazers.

Although Syd stayed at the Top Rank Ballroom until 1972, he was finding that teenagers didn't want his music, so he left to go freelance. He said at the time: 'I’m glad to get out of it. They just don't want a band. We tried to please them but all they want are hit records'.

Syd Dean carried on with appearances and concerts for many years and ran successful dances at Hove's King Alfred Ballroom and the Corn Exchange and the Dome in Brighton. Despite his declining health he continued to do the occasional private function. The late Chris Hayes, a musical journalist, provided Brian Reynolds with much of the information in this profile. He interviewed Syd in 1988, when he was planning a big band show at the Hotel Metropole, Brighton. Chris described Syd Dean as a 'dapper and handsome man, with a neat moustache and a ready smile. He possessed a smooth and pleasant personality which endeared him to people. He was genial and gracious without pomposity or conceit.' There couldn’t be a more fitting epitaph!
Syd Dean died on 1st August 1993, aged 86.
Johnny Russell, Tenor Sax
b. Charlotte, NC, USA. d.
There are cases where an instrumentalist's most haunting playing is to be found in the world of cinema rather than through spinning sides. This classic jazz master of several instruments serves as a good example. He devoted an equal portion of his time to dance band and military music, not to mention making members of the military dance -- all the more explaining why his eloquent moments on the soundtrack to Alibi, directed by the great Erich Von Stroheim, have attracted much more attention than any of Russell's prolific sideman credits.
Much of this attention could be easily lumped together under the question of "Gee, I wonder who that was playing on the soundtrack?" That's still more attention than most journeyman players get in their professional lifetimes. Russell's began as a teenager gigging with a combo in Asbury Park and continued at infamous Roaring Twenties venues such as Danceland in New York City, the jazz hound picking up the scent in the early '30s when Russell replaced Chu Berry in the tenor saxophone section of Benny Carter's band.
From the middle of that decade Russell became a presence on the European jazz scene, beginning with a tour featuring the Bobby Martin band and almost inevitably involving the great prophet of expatriate jazzmen, Willie Lewis. Russell worked with the latter bandleader from 1939 through 1941 and had only been back in the States briefly before getting called up for military service. His musical activity simply continued in this new frame of reference, and before long Russell was an assistant to the brilliant Russell Wooding in one of the best bands in the armed forces.
This artist's accomplishments following the end of the war taper off considerably. He worked with Cecil Scott in various ballrooms as well as under the baton of Eddie Cornelius, then he became a strictly part-time player, taking calls in the for-hire "general business" branch of music. Despite the fact that his main job during this part of his life was as a salesman, he should still not be confused with the Johnny Russell who wrote redneck country anthems.
~ Eugene Chadbourne

"Texas Ruby"
C&W vocals/guitar
b. Wise County, TX, USA.
d. March 29, 1963.
né: Ruby Agnes Owens.
Part of Team: 'Curly Fox and Texas Ruby'. Tag: "The Sophie Tucker of the Feminine Folk Singers." Ruby's niece is Laura Lee Owens McBride, who, in the 1940s, sang with 'Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys'. Ruby's husband was trick fiddler Curly Fox. A great favorite with audiences, Ruby sang honky-tonk material in a strong, distinctive voice and wrote many of her own songs.

~Biography by Steve Kurutz
A real down-on-the-plains-type singer, Texas Ruby came from a prairie family and began singing country standards with a booming voice and a sassy persona. 

Drifting to Cincinnati from her native Texas in the early '30s, she met bandleader Zeke Clements and the two began a professional and personal relationship that saw them play to appreciative audiences throughout the decade. The duo played everywhere from New York City to Texas to California, but Ruby's constant drinking and ill temper eventually affected the group and the relationship ended. Ruby then married fiddler Curly Fox and the two were performers at the Grand Ole Opry from 1944 to 1948, recording honky tonk material such as "You've Been Cheating on Me" and "Ain't You Sorry That You Lied" for both the Columbia and King labels at the same time.
In 1948, Ruby and Curly Fox moved to Houston where they spent the next decade perfecting their act before moving to L.A. in the early '60s to appear on the Town Hall Party TV show in hopes of gaining a wider exposure. Another move in 1962 saw them back in Nashville where they recorded an album released a year later, but truck the duo when Ruby apparently fell asleep with a cigarette in her hand and perished in the blaze.
Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:


The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra recorded "Annie's Cousin Fanny".
A young trombonist, Glenn Miller, did the vocalizing.

Tommy Ladnier, trumpeter
died in New York, N.Y., USA

Ford Leary, trombonist and vocalist
died in New York, NY, USA.
(b. Sept. 5, 1908, Lockport, NY, USA.)

Todd Rhodes, piano
died in Detroit, MI, USA.
Age: 64

Zeke Clement, C&W singer/guitar
died in Nashville, TN, USA.
Age: 82
(Perhaps best recalled for his work with "Texas Ruby")
Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


L-R: unknown (drums), Rudy Wiedoeft (clarinet), Marco Woolf (violin),
Buster Johnson (trombone), Arnold Johnson (piano), unknown (banjo)

Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band - Slippery Hank


Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band - I'm Sorry I Made You Cry
  • Jazzbo Jazz One-Step

Six Brown Brothers - When Aunt Dinah's Daughter Bangs On The Piano


Paul Biese Trio - In Sweet September (Introducing: "Jean")
Rose Of Babylon


W.C. Handy's Orchestra
  • Florida Blues


Bennie Krueger and his Orchestra


Wilton Crawley
Irony Daddy Blues
She's Forty With Me


Dorsey Brothers Orchestra
  • Evening Star


Joe Steele and his Orchestra - Coal Yard Shuffle

Annette Hanshaw - Pagan Love Song

Annette Hanshaw - Ua Like No A Like

Ted Lewis and his Band Lewisada Blues

The California Ramblers


Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra - Jungle Nights In Harlem


The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra
Recorded "Annie's Aunt Fanny". A young trombonist, 
Glenn Miller, did the vocalizing.


New Orleans Feetwarmers - Wild Man Blues

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and all those who have provided content,
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