Dance Band Encyclopaedia

Visiting Americans


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During the 1920s, many American dance bands visited Britain and Europe. Experienced collector and researcher, Joe Moore, has been investigating these tours and uncovers many new details in a series of articles being published here. The first 2 were orginally published in the magazine "OK For Sound" which, sadly, ceased publication at the end of 2004.  

No. 1: The Southern Rag-A-Jazz Band                                                                                       August 2004

No 2:
Vincent Lopez and his Orchestra                                                                                                      
October 2004

No 3: Isham Jones And His Orchestra                                                                                        March 2005

No 4: Paul Specht and his Orchestras, Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5                               April 2006, updated December 2006



It is interesting to note the Isham Jones band were granted Work Permits to come here in 1925, but the Ray Miller and Paul Specht Orchestras were not. As the Twenties wore on, more Work Permits were to be refused, in one or two cases by what seemed to be somewhat arbitrary decisions.

The visits of American musicians to work in England were clearly not entirely welcome in certain quarters here. One early (and well-known) objection was by the music hall star George Robey, who had the Original Dixieland Jazz Band removed from the revue “Joy Bells” in April 1919, apparently on the grounds they got more applause than he did! It is difficult now to ascertain just what policy existed then for the granting of Work Permits, and who may have objected or not. Variety wrote about this subject fairly frequently during the Twenties, but even they could not give a clear picture of who was opposing the use of “foreign” musicians.

The bandleader Paul Specht seems to have suffered most in this direction, having been refused Work Permits on at least two occasions. There is still much research to be done on this subject in general, but it is clear that Specht did not entirely help his own case. From about mid-1924 until sometime towards the end of 1926 he was the Musical Director for both the Kit Cat Club and the Piccadilly Hotel. In July 1924 he was refused Work Permits for the Carolina Club Orchestra, a band under his management at the time. (These were later granted after Specht’s protest at the highest level in America.) In retaliation he brought over the Canadian Club Orchestra in 1925. Its members all being Canadians, they were classed as British subjects in those days and therefore the question of Work Permits apparently did not arise.

Specht also encouraged the drafting of the Willis-Vaile Bill in America, which (had it become law) would have imposed restrictions on English artists visiting that country. As suggested in my article on Vincent Lopez, Jack Hylton does seem to have had considerable influence even then, although he was clearly not “anti-American” as such. It is perhaps a little more than coincidence that by the end of 1926 Specht had been replaced by Hylton as Musical Director at the venues mentioned. Given that Hylton had bands under his management at both establishments, he could hardly be blamed for trying to protect his own interests and those of his musicians.

A very interesting subject... Click to find out more about the sensitive matter of Work Permits.                         December 2006

Joe has identified that the following American bands visited England in the 1920s & 30s and some may be featured in future articles here The ones in green are still not confirmed:

Name of band Date of visit Venue of performances
Sherbo's American Band 1920 Tocadero Cafe
Art Hickman's New York London Five 1920 Criterion Roof
American Five 1920 Embassy Club
Original Dixieland Jazz Band 1920 Hammersmith Palais
Billy Arnold's American Novelty Band 1920 Hammersmith Palais
Southern Rag-A-Jazz Band 1921 Rector's Club
Billy Madden's Crescent City Orchestra 1921 Hammersmith Palais
Princeton University Orchestra 1921 Savoy Hotel
New York Havana Band 1921 Savoy Hotel
Southern Rag-A-Jazz Band 1922  Europe Only?
The Paramount Six 1922 Hammersmith Palais
The Trocoraggers (inc Charlie Kunz) 1922 Trocadero Cafe
Robert Bennett's Frisco Syncopators 1923 Empress Rooms
Original Capitol Orchestra 1923 Grafton Galleries
Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra 1923 Grafton Galleries
Paul Specht Orchestra (including The Georgians) 1923 Lyon's Corner House
Hughie Barrett's Trocoraggers 1923 Trocadero Cafe
Whitey Kaufman & his Orchestra 1923 Unknown
New Princes Toronto Band (Canadian) 1924 New Princes Restaurant
Alex Hyde and his Orchestra 1924 Piccadilly Hotel
The Buffalo Orchestra (Canadian) 1924 Hammersmith Palais
Princeton Triangle Jazz Band 1924 Private Parties ?
Piccadilly New York Band 1924 Piccadilly Hotel
Paul Specht's Carolina Club Orchestra 1924 Piccadilly Hotel
Albert Lemaire's Cleveland, Ohio Orchestra 1925 Piccadilly Hotel
Lido Venice Dance Orchestra 1925 Empress Rooms
Haresfoot Orchestra 1925 unknown
Joseph C Smith Orchestra 1925 Cafe de Paris
Vincent Lopez and his Orchestra 1925 Kit-Cat Club
Ted Lewis and his Band 1925 Kit-Cat Club
Brooke Johns' Oklahoma Collegians 1925 Kit-Cat Club
Isham Jones and his Orchestra 1925 Kit-Cat Club
Mound City Blue Blowers 1925 Piccadilly Hotel
Ray Miller & his Orchestra (permit refused) 1925 Kit-Cat Club
Paul Specht and his Band (permit refused) 1925 Kit-Cat Club
Paul Specht's Canadian Club Orchestra 1926 Kit-Cat Club
Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra 1926 Kit-Cat Club & tour
Vincent Lopez and his Orchestra 1926 Kit-Cat Club
Paul Specht and his Band 1926 Empress Rooms
Inter-Collegiate Band 1926 Cowes, Isle of Wight
Irving Aaronson's Commanders 1926 Plaza Cinema
Ben Bernie and his Band (Permit refused) 1926 Kit-Cat Club
Fred Rich and his Orchestra 1927 Holborn Empire &c.
Lou Raderman and his Orchestra 1927 Embassy Club
Ben Bernie and his Band (Permit refused) 1927 Kit-Cat Club
Jan Garber and his Orchestra 1928 unknown
Sam Lanin's Ipana Troubadours 1928 unknown
Frank Cormwell & his Orchestra 1928 unknown
Ben Bernie and his Band (Permit refused) 1928 Kit-Cat Club
Vincent Lopez and his Casa Lopez Orchestra 1929 unknown
Walter Fehl and his Band 1929 Holborn Empire
Abe Lyman and his Californians 1929 Kit-Cat Club
Ben Bernie and his Band 1929 Kit-Cat Club
Jimmy Carusoe's New York Syncopators 1929 Cafe de Paris
Art McLean's Chicago Blew Blowers (Canadian) 1929 Kit-Cat Club
Babe Egan's Hollywood Redheads 1929 Kit-Cat Club
Gus Arnheim and his Orchestra 1929 Savoy Hotel
Six Jumping Jacks 1929 Variety Theatres
The Ingenues 1929 Palladium
The Bon John Girls 1929 Palladium
Ben Pollack and his Band 1929 London ?
Carl Freed and his Band 1929 Palladium
Eddie Elkins and his Band (Permit refused) 1929 Cafe de Paris
Emil Coleman and his Band (Visit cancelled) 1926 Cafe de Paris
Art Gregory and his St Louis Band 1930 Covent Garden
Hal Kemp and his Band 1930 Cafe de Paris
Ted Lewis and his Band 1930 Kit-Cat Club
Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders 1930 Kit-Cat Club
Roy Fox and his Band 1930 Cafe de Paris
Ronnie Hart's Band (Canadian) 1931 Ciro's Club
Unknown College Band 1931 Provate parties?

If you have any additional information on either the published or to-be-published bands regarding their European tours, don't hesitate to contact me via my email address and I will pass all information onto Joe.