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Syd Roy

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Real Name: Syd Lipman
Pianist & Bandleader

Born: London circa 1901
Died: circa 20th November 1987 aged 86

Syd formed his Original Crichton Lyricals Orchestra (popularly known as "The Lyricals") in 1921. It was a five-piece band consisting of
Syd Roy - piano; Harry Roy - clarinet, soprano sax & tenor Sax; Harold Lyons - soprano sax and alto sax; Maurice Tronny - trombone, violin & arranger; Eddie Collis - drums & vocals. They first played at Oddenino's Restaurant, moving to the Casino in Finchley Road, Hampstead, followed by the Hammersmith Palais de Danse and then Rectors Club where they stayed for two years, also playing at Rectors in Paris. They made one test recording for Columbia of "Wabash Blues" in early 1922. It was about this time when Tommy Venn - banjo was added, beginning a long association with the Roy Brothers that lasted up to 1940! The band returned to England in 1923 to open the Cafe de Paris where they remained for some years, playing also at the Cavour Restaurant. On Sundays they also played at the Cafe de Paris, Bray, nr Maidenhead (Melody Maker, May 1926).

It was a small band which relied much on humour and entertainment. The Melody Maker always rates the band's entertainment value very highly, but criticises the tone of the saxophones! It does praise the band's arrangements which are the work of "N. Tronny" (described in 1926 as "probably one of the best orchestrators in the country"). Harry Roy & Harold Lyons also danced in the act, Harry Roy also being described as a comedian in various "Melody Maker" reports.

Just as aside, the violinist is often called N. Tronny, but "Rhythm" magazine for February 1930 mentions "Maurice Tronney, former leader & violinist with Syd Roy's Lyricals".

At the start of 1927, the band secured a recording contract with Vocalion and over the next six months recorded 24 titles for the company which were issued on Aco, Coliseum, Guardsman, Scala, and Beltona. They also recorded two isolated sides for Winner during this period, plus at least one for the 6" Crown label. The band was augmented with a brass section and extra saxophone to fill the sound out a bit. The aural evidence is that Jimmy Wornell was the trumpeter on all the Vocalion recordings. I haven't been able to identify the trombome & sousaphone players (who are the other extra msicians added), but the Rust & Forbes' discography gives them as Basil Green or Stan Gosling (trombone) and A. C Heather (brass bass). The Aco labels describe the band as The Lyricals of the "Cafe de Paris", London. Later "Aco" records mention the "Cafe Anglais" instead. Harry Roy, later famous for his vocalising shows he has already formed his style by this time, when taking the vocal on "I Wonder How I Look When I'm Asleep".

The band left the Cafe de Paris sometime during the summer of 1927 and commenced touring the country. At the same time, the band's personnel changed. Tronny left as he wasn't keen to tour, Bert Wilton and Sid Parsons - trumpets and A. C. Heather - sousaphone were added. In October, the band started recording for Crystalate, records being issued on their "Imperial" label.

These recordings label the band initially as The Crichton Lyricals from the Cafe de Paris, London, but subsequent issues call the band simply "Syd Roy's Lyricals". Again, the band was enlarged for the records. Jack Jackson was added on trumpet (replacing one of the others, presumably) and plays some superb hot solos on the band's October & December 1927 sessions. Likewise, a fine, but as yet, unidentified alto sax player is also added and contributes some good solos. Despite the primitive acoustical recording quality, the records are definitely worth seeking out. Subsequent recordings for Imperial, most of which were electrical recordings, are not so interesting from a "hot" point of view but show the band to be quite musically competent. 

In 1928, The Lyricals embarked on what seems to be a world tour, first arriving in South Africa before continuing on to Sydney, Australia in 1929. After a brief spell back in England, where the band recorded two sides for Broadcast Records, they were off again at the start of 1930, this time to Berlin, where they played at the Haus Gurmenia and also making a few recordings (which are very rare). Whilst in Germany, the band effectively broke up when some of the members left. In 1931, Syd Roy was asked to form a big band for the new RKO Theatre in Leicester Square. He decided it needed someone dynamic with a strong personality to front the band, so he asked his brother, setting him on the road to fame.

After this, Syd increasingly wound down his bandleading duties and became Harry's manager. The recordings made under Syd's name for Eclipse in 1933 do not include his brother, but many do seem to include other members of his famous band.

The Photos...

The first two photos (of "The Original Lyrical 5") must date from around 1920-21, with the band copying the style of the ODJB (Original Dixieland Jazz Band). The players here are (left to right) Syd Roy, Maurice Tronny, Harry Roy, Harold Lyons, Eddie Collis.

The next two show the band including Tommy Venn, banjo, during the Rector's club era. The second one shows Tronney playing trombone (far left).

The next two date from 1926 and show the Crichton Lyricals while at the Cafe de Paris.

Then a photo from probably a few months later showing an enlarged band at the Cafe de Paris. 
Back Row: L to R:
Harry Roy, unknown, Maurice Tronny. In front: Harold Lyons, Eddie Collis, unknown, Tommy Venn, Syd Roy.

Not sure of the date on this one, but I suspect it fits in 1927-28 and appears to be inside a large dance hall. Left to Right: Harold Lyons, Eddie Collis, Harry Roy, Syd Roy, Tommy Venn, Bert Wilton, A. C. Heather ?, unknown (trumpet) (could be Syd Parsons).

The 1928 photo is not a very good reproduction from "Melody Maker" and shows (L to R):
Unknown, Unknown, Tommy Venn, Syd Roy (at back), Harold Lyons, Harry Roy (at front), Eddie Collis, unknown.

1929 Australian Photo: Left to Right: Tommy Venn, Stan Gosling, Harold Lyons, Ernie Broadhurst, Harry Roy, Eddie Collis, Syd Roy.

1930 Berlin Photo 1: L to R: Ernie Broadhurst, Basil Green ?, Stan Gosling, Syd Roy, Eddie Collis, Harry Roy, Tommy Venn. Johnny Swinfen, Harold Lyons. The second photo shows the same people, but with Collis, Roy & Lyons standing behind Venn as the vocal trio.

Sources of info:
Bert Wilton - mentioned in "Melody Maker"  advert in September 1927 issue
Sid Parsons - "Melody Maker" article in March 13, 1937 issue described as touring with this band from 1927 to 1931.
Stan Gosling - Identification from Stan's great nephew, Paul Sarjeant.

Syd Roy, 1927 sm.jpg (23867 bytes)
Syd Roy

Syd Roy Original Lyrical 5.jpg (104647 bytes)

Syd Roy Original 5 Lyrical 1920.jpg (93888 bytes)
Original Lyrical 5 (early 1920s)

Syd Roy Rector's Lyrical Orchestra 1922.jpg (126759 bytes)

Syd Roy Crichton Lyrical Orchestra 1922.jpg (92424 bytes)
At Rector's in 1922

Crichton Lyricals, MM 0526.jpg (32666 bytes)
Crichton Lyricals

Syd Roy's Lyricals 1926.jpg (183507 bytes)
The Lyricals in 1926

Syd Roy Lyricals at the Cafe de Paris 1926.jpg (86079 bytes)
In the Cafe de Paris c1926

Syd Roy Lyricals at Cafe de Paris 1924.jpg (138783 bytes)
On tour, probably 1927-28

Syd Roy's Lyricals, MM Aug 1928.jpg (171677 bytes)
Syd Roy's Lyricals (circa July 1928)

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In Australia, 1929

Syd Roy Lyricals at Haus Gurmenia, Berlin 1930.jpg (103568 bytes)

Syd Roy Lyricals Berlin Germany 1930.jpg (95851 bytes)
Two photos of the band in Germany in early 1930