British Dance Bands

The career of Denny Dennis falls into what is known as the Golden Age of British Dance Bands. Denny sang with several bands including Jack Jackson, Ambrose, Jack Hylton, Roy Fox, Sid Phillips, The Skyrockets and The Squadronaires.

There is renewed interest in the dance bands especially by younger people who are discovering a rich and wonderful musical heritage.

This section of the website will be expanded to form an introduction to the british dance bands. In the mean time, for those wishing to discover more the following sites are highly recommended.   

An excellent site by knowledgeable enthusiast  Mike Thomas.  Mike has made many of his 78’s available as downloads for us - Thanks Mike.

John Wright’s detailed site. John offers many podcasts on dance bands from his own vast collection of original 78 rpm recordings and these are an excellent introduction to wide variety of music and styles of the dance bands.

Listen to John’s excellent podcasts of British dance bands - from his own extensive 78rpm collection. Currently John is up to podcast 183.    

Memory Lane Magazine

Memory Lane' magazine is enjoying its forty second year of publication.  Packed with the latest CD reviews, the latest Al Bowlly news, plus articles on the stars from the Golden Age of British Dance Bands, expertly written and researched by dedicated and knowledgeable enthusiasts. This magazine is for enthusiasts by enthusiasts. It's all here, plus much more. 

Did you know that famed American singing star Gilbert Russell was in reality Val Rosing, the famous singer of 'The Teddy Bears Picnic'?

Did you know that the stars of the day sold hit records made out of cardboard at news stands? 

Do you know which famous vocalist Ronald Dennis Pountain became? (You'll never guess!) 

Learn more about this excellent magazine via their website.  

Contact the editor directly - PO Box 1939, Leigh On Sea, Essex, SS9 3UH, England, or e mail the editor on 

Londoner, Bert Ambrose, led one of, if not the finest of all British dance bands. Superb vocalists such as Sam Browne, Elsie Carlisle, Jack Cooper, Vera Lynn, Evelyn Dall and Anne Shelton all passed through the ranks. Ambrose broadcast for many years from the Mayfair Hotel, in prime Saturday evening position.

Denny joined in 1938 and recorded some of his finest material with Ambrose. He recorded once again with Ambrose in 1943, at the time that Denny was also quite preoccupied with his RAF duties.

Lancashire born Jack Hylton led one of the finest bands of the period and he worked with the best. His initial band was modelled on the successful American band of Paul Whiteman, who had given a young Bing Crosby, Denny’s idol, his start.

Jack’s band grew to become an all round entertainment band, and one was never short of a variety of entertainment at a

Jack Hylton concert.

Denny only made six recordings with Jack and was never really part of the band as such. The recordings are memorable, especially, ‘Blue Orchids’.

American, Roy Fox was already well known when he came to Britain as the thirties began. Known for his style and dress sense, as well as musical taste, this whispering cornetist made quite an impression at the Monseigneur Restaurant, employing a vocalist by the name of Al Bowlly.

After some initial reservations, he took on Denny when he set up a new band. The association led to one of the most memorable partnerships of the period, with Denny going on to record over 200 titles with the Fox band, before it disbanded in 1938.

The extremely talented and gifted Sid had been one of the key arrangers for the Ambrose band. By the late forties he fronted a smaller Dixieland style band, with Sid and his clarinet to the fore. By the early fifties, Sid was quite a star and his band was very popular.

Remembering his old friend Denny, Sid employed him for a couple of years as one of several vocalists with the band. Denny was given the opportunity to duet with an aspiring new vocalist, Alma Cogan.

Jack was one of the top hot jazz trumpeters of the late twenties and the thirties. He worked with Jack Hylton, helping to make several hits along the way. By the early thirties he was leading his own band, which later became well known and broadcast from the Dorchester Hotel.

Jack had come across Denny when Denny was quite unknown. Jack recognised something in Denny’s voice and style and he used Denny on a few broadcasts. Denny made three records with Jack before joining Roy Fox.  Jack, in later years became one of Britain’s best loved radio presenters, along with his famous cat, Tiddles’.

The Dance Band Leaders who featured with Denny Dennis throughout his career.

In the glory days of the dance bands, that is the twenties and thirties, it was the bands that were the stars and not the singers, quite the reverse of today’s popular music world. Radio, or as we used to say, the wireless, reigned supreme. It’s hard to imagine just how popular these bands were. Denny, worked for some of the very best of them. Because of that, Denny was expected to be one of the best. Without doubt, he certainly was.

Following time spent with Paul Whiteman’s band, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey led the Dorsey Brothers band, before each starting their own respective bands in the mid thirties. Tommy went on to employ some of the top vocalists of the period, Jack Leonard, Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, and Jo Stafford.

Tommy became aware of Denny through the recording of ‘It’s The Bluest Kind Of Blues’ and asked for Denny to join his band. At that time, 1948, to be asked by Tommy to join the Tommy Dorsey band was just about as good as it could ever be. It was a top band, anywhere!

Future bands and band leaders to feature with links to the career of Denny Dennis

Stanley Black

Phil Green

Bob Farnon

Harry Leader

The Squadronaires

The Skyrockets

Two excellent and informative dance band websites - all you need to know and more

Sydney Lipton invites you to Have A Star Band at your Party  10” LP   Mid 1950s

Side 1

S’wonderful                                                             Sydney Lipton and His Orchestra                                    Quickstep

You Too, you too                                                    Roberto Inglez and His Orchestra                                    Rhumba

The story of Tina                                                    Sydney Lipton and His Orchestra                                     Waltz

Peg o’my heart                                                       The Kenny Baker Quartet                                                 Foxtrot

Cock o’ The north; Major John Maclennan            Jimmy Shand and His Band                                             Gay Gordons

Side 2

Darktown Strutters Ball                                            Sydney Lipton and His Orchestra                                    Quickstep

Mascot                                                                    Sydney Thompson’s Olde-Tyme Dance Orchestra             

I speak to the stars                                                  The Kenny Baker Quartet                                                 Foxtrot

Pernambuco                                                            Roberto Inglez and His Orchestra                                    Samba

Swedish Rhapsody                                                 Sydney Lipton and His Orchestra                                     Quickstep

Sydney Lipton (left) led a fine band in the 1930’s, but here he is with the smoother and more light music sounds of the mid 50s, introducing a variety of band styles during this period.

As far as I know Denny did not sing with Sydney Lipton’s band.

Memory Lane Magazine - A dedicated magazine with expertly written articles, plus reviews of all the latest dance band cd releases, most of which you will never find in the shops, if you can find record shops anymore! Plus - all the latest dance band CD releases from Memory Lane Magazine itself. A treasure trove of the rarest dance band recordings you are ever likely to find, lovingly restored and presented by a team of dedicated enthusiasts.

Dance Band Vocalist - Betty Kent

Betty Kent

Betty sang with two bands in the 1930s and 1940s. Teddy Foster and His Orchestra, and Jack Simpson. A lovely vocalist.

Left click to listen. Right click to download.

Takin' The Trains Out - (chasin after you) teddy foster and orch  - betty kent and ch - 25-7-45.mp3  

There Must Be A Way - teddy foster and orch - betty kent- 11-10-45.mp3         

The following Regal Zonophone 78 has been cleaned up by myself. The number Sentimental Journey appears in discographical listings, and on the 78 label as with a vocal by Betty Kent. The flip side offers a vocal chorus on the label. Listings state that the vocalist is Eunice Metcalfe.  Four numbers were recorded at the 11-10-45 session, two by Betty, and two by Eunice.

sentimental journey - teddy foster and orch - v - betty kent - 11-10-45.mp3

i'm in love with two sweethearts - t foster and his orch - v -eunice metcalfe - 11-10-45.mp3     


Harry Roy

Harry Roy was one of the most popular dance band leaders, and he led one of the most popular dance bands of the 1930s and the 1940s.

In 2009 I interviewed Barry Wolsey of the Harry Roy Appreciation Society, as part of my The Dance Band Days radio show. Barry and I talked about Harry, his music, the HRAS, and we played some of Harry’s wonderful recordings. The Radio Station, Thornbury FM is no more, and contact references mentioned are now defunct. Any enquiries about the HRAS, please e mail me.

TFM 19.11.09 - Harry Roy - Barry Wolsey Interview.mp3

Tony Bradley - The Dance Band Days (96) 9-2-21.mp3        Whole show - AR 9-2-21

Left click to play - right click to download.

Phyllis Robbins

Phyllis Robbins was one of the most popular stars of the day, and a very popular singer with the dance bands. In April of 2018 I presented a one hour tribute to Phyllis Robbins. I made reference to a cd that had been released at the time on the CJRO label. Since then, Memory Lane Magazine have also issued a cd of her work.

The broadcast is here. Left click to play, right click to download.

Tony Bradley - The Dance Band Days (25) GEN 25-AR 10  - Phyllis Robins Tribute.mp3

The Memory Lane CD - see below.    

The CJRO CD - not sure if it is still available. Try CJRO Records for:

Phyllis Robbins - Torch Singer of the 1930s and 1940s  CJRO / CD/ 807

Sam Browne

Sam Browne was perhaps the most recorded British Vocalist of the 1920s to the 1940s. He was also one of the greatest of all dance band vocalists. By the early 1950s, Sam, like many other former dance band vocalists, was recording for the new Embassy label, sold in Woolworths stores. Sam, professional to the last, makes a good job of In The Chapel In The Moonlight, a song he had recorded with Ambrose and His Orchestra in 1936, but here with the Top Tones, in November of 1954. Sam also makes a good job of interpreting The Great Pretender, dating from March of 1956, by wisely singing in a very controlled and relaxed manner, and not trying to emulate the range and soul feeling of The Platters original. Sam also makes a stirling effort on the flip side, with the Eddie Fisher hit, Dungaree Doll, but this teen focused number is really not a song for the by then, older and mature Sam. Another former dance band vocalist, Rita Williams, and her singers, support Sam.

Left click to play, right click to download.

In The Chapel In The Moonlight - Sam Browne - The Top Tones - Embassy 78 - WB103.mp3

The Great Pretender - sam browne  - embassy 78 - WB177.mp3

dungaree doll - sam browne - embassy 78 - WB177.mp3

Sam Browne - Songs For Lovers

Sam Browne teams up with Lew Stone and His Orchestra - in the mid 1950s.

This rather scarce LP sees Sam and Lew Stone coming together to sing and play some 1930s classics in  a more modern style. Sam is in fine voice and takes the numbers in a relaxed style, with great control.

The LP is a curious mix. The covers says - Songs For Lovers, while the LP labels says - Sam Browne Sings Again. On the second side of the LP the volume was higher than the first.

The LP used here was quite damaged on the left groove wall, but the right groove wall was fairly clean. The copy below consists of the right groove wall, restored. There is still some surface noise at times. A rare delight, Sam Browne in later post dance band years.

01 - let's put out the lights and go to sleep.mp3

02 - sweet and lovely.mp3

03 - i only have eyes for you.mp3

04 - just one more chance.mp3

05 - the moon was yellow.mp3

06 - body and soul.mp3

07 - i surrender dear.mp3

08 - when day is done.mp3