Al Bowlly

(1899—1941) singer

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b. Albert Alick Bowlly, 7 January 1899, Lourenco Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, d. 17 April 1941, London, England. Son of a Greek father and Lebanese mother, Bowlly was brought up in Johannesburg, South Africa. After studying the banjo and guitar, he joined Edgar Adeler’s band in 1923 and toured South Africa and India before moving to Calcutta and Singapore as featured vocalist with Jimmy Liquime’s band. Bowlly’s first recordings were made in Berlin during 1927-28, with various groups including Arthur Briggs’ Savoy Syncopaters, George Carhart’s New Yorkers and Fred Bird’s Salon Symphonic Jazz Band. Bowlly arrived in London in 1928, working with Fred Elizalde at the Savoy Hotel, before becoming freelance. Between 1930 and 1933 he recorded nearly 700 songs, the most notable being with Ray Noble’s New Mayfair Dance Orchestra and the band of Roy Fox. He sang with Fox at the Monseigneur Restaurant and stayed with the band when it was taken over by Lew Stone. In 1934 Bowlly went to the USA with Noble, playing New York’s Rainbow Room and recording for Victor. This period spawned two hits, ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘My Melancholy Baby’. Bowlly also had his own NBC radio series, and appeared in the movie The Big Broadcast Of 1936, singing the Noble composition, ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’. After returning to the UK in 1936 and forming his own Radio City Rhythm Makers, Bowlly went back to the USA again for a critical throat operation. In Britain he worked with the bands of Maurice Winnick, Sydney Lipton, Geraldo, Ken ‘Snakehips’ Johnson and others, later teaming up with Maltese singer Jimmy Messini in a stage act called the Radio Stars With Two Guitars. Shortly after their last recording session, Bowlly was killed when a German bomb exploded outside his London flat in 1941.


From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Music.

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