(1896—1971) bandleader and violinist

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b. Benjamin Baruch Ambrose, 15 September 1896, London, England, d. 11 June 1971, Leeds, Yorkshire, England. After learning to play the violin as a child, Ambrose went to New York in his teens and played in cinema orchestras for silent movies. From 1917-20 he led the band at the Palais Royal, New York, before returning to England to form an orchestra at the Embassy Club in London’s Bond Street. Apart from another brief spell in New York City at the Clover Gardens, Ambrose was a fixture at the Embassy until 1927, when he moved to the prestigious Mayfair Club at a then incredible annual salary of £10, 000. He stayed there for six years, assembling what was to become the finest dance band in the UK over the next 20 years. The band broadcast regularly from the club and recorded prolifically for Decca Records, one of the first bands to be signed to that label. In 1933 Ambrose returned to the Embassy Club, and then for the rest of the 30s played at Ciro’s, the Cafe de Paris and other prestigious London nightspots. After a period of ill health in 1940, he toured the Variety theatres with a small group following the loss of several of his principal musicians to His Majesty’s Forces. He led a band throughout World War II and into the 50s, but the public’s changing musical tastes caused him to dissolve the outfit in 1956. He subsequently went into artist management, and guided singer Kathy Kirby to several chart hits in the 60s. It was while arranging some work for her in 1971 that he collapsed in a television studio and died shortly afterwards in Leeds Infirmary.


From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Music.

Reference entries