CD Duration: 66.27 / Year: 2011
Featuring nine cinema organists with previously unpublished recordings:
Ena Baga, William Davies, Con Docherty, Vic Hammett, Watson Holmes, Arnold Loxam, Bobby Pagan, Leslie Taff, Trevor Willetts.
Organs featured: Odeon Hammersmith, Regal Henly, Odeon Gateshead, Odeon Manchester, Opera House Blackpool, Granada Grantham, Town Hall Buckingham and The Odeon Rotherham.
The William Tell Overture – ENA BAGA (Compton 4-15 Odeon, Hammersmith)
The Good Old Bad Old Days
WILLIAM DAVIES (Compton 3-7 Regal, Henley on Thames)
Finlandia – CON DOCHERTY (Compton 3-9 Odeon, Gateshead)
Lara’s Theme / Sweet Georgia Brown – VIC HAMMETT (Wurlitzer 4-20 Odeon, Manchester)
Lover Come Back to Me / Who / Gold & Silver Waltz / When the Guards are on Parade
WATSON HOLMES (Wurlitzer 3-14 Opera House, Blackpool)
Chinatown, My Chinatown / The Gold & Silver Waltz / Gilbert & Sullivan Selection
ARNOLD LOXAM (Compton 3-6 Granada, Grantham)
Only Make Believe / Why Do I Love You / All the Things You Are / Just the Way You Are Tonight / Ol’ Man River
BOBBY PAGAN (Wurlitzer 4-2 Odeon, Manchester)
Whispering / Ain’t Misbehavin’ / Deep Purple / Smoke Gets in Your Eyes / When You’re Smiling
LESLIE TAFF (Wurlitzer 3-10 Town Hall, Buckingham)
Tritsch Tratsch Polka / Sailor’s Hornpipe / Anchors Aweigh / In the Mood / Bugle Call Rag / We’ll All Go Riding on a Rainbow
TREVOR WILLETTS (Connacher 3-9 Odeon, Rotherham)
ENA BAGA. Her first appointment was as assistant to her sister, Florence De Jong, at the New Gallery cinema in Regent Street. She had the distinction of being the only lady organist to be invited by King George V to play at Balmoral. During WWII, she took Reginald Dixon’s place at the Tower, Blackpool.
WILLIAM DAVIES. Yet another rising organist whose career ended in 1939. It was 1946 before he was back at the console. First at the Gaumont, Wolverhampton, then to London, including the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road. He also became a composer and arranger.
CON DOCHERTY. Called for military service, Con served with the RAF Squadron that located the Bismark. After the war he asked for a north east appointment, which began at the Gaumont, Doncaster in February, 1946.
VIC HAMMETT. Starting at the Palace, Slough and later moving to the Plaza, Iver, Vic was unlucky to be playing at the Scala, Berlin in September, 1939 and became a prisoner of war. In 1945 he joined Gaumont British and took a post at the Broadway, Stratford.
WATSON HOLMES. Began playing the piano for silent films before taking organ tuition from Dr. William Ellis at Newcastle Cathedral. He joined Granada and toured all their theatres, before becoming resident at the Granada, Mansfield. He was appointed to the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, until Horace Finch returned. He moved to the Tower to join Reginald Dixon, before taking over at the Opera House.
ARNOLD LOXAM. Born in Bradford, Arnold gave his first broadcast in 1925 as a child pianist. It was the New Victoria cinema that gave him his chance as an organist, starting him on a career that not only took in the organ at Blackpool Tower, but a number of concert tours to Holland, Canada and North America.
BOBBY PAGAN. Born in Scotland in 1905, Bobby was destined for a cinema organist career and like many others, he had to be prepared to move around the country. His posts included, the Regal, Glasgow, Astoria, Aberdeen, Regal Edmonton and the State, Kilburn.
LESLIE TAFF. Born in Tipton, Leslie was another child pianist who began accompanying silent films at the Victoria Palace, Horseley Heath. As the organ became more of a feature, he progressed to other cinemas in the area and was resident at the Regal, Darlaston for many years. He opened the Tower cinema, West Bromwich in 1935, playing a Compton 3-10. Later, he was to play the same organ when it was reinstalled at Marston Green Hospital in 1971.
TREVOR WILLETTS. Playing church organ from an early age, Trevor was given theatre organ tuition from Tommy Dando, who was resident at the Regal (later Odeon), Rotherham. As a member of the ABC team of organists, he had to ‘sit in’ at any number of smaller cinemas which were sometimes described by a rather insalubrious term! But in 1943, he was appointed to the Ritz, Barnsley and stayed until 1962.
Recording Engineers, Les Brumpton & Ken Mellor.