Beryl Bryden

(1920—1998) jazz singer and washboard player

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b. 11 May 1920, Norwich, Norfolk, England, d. 14 July 1998, London, England. In the mid-40s Bryden was active in local jazz circles, organizing concerts and club dates and singing with various bands. In London in the late 40s she sang and played washboard with many of the important bands of the British trad-jazz explosion, including those of George Webb, Freddy Randall, Alex Welsh, Humphrey Lyttelton and Chris Barber. She made her recording debut in 1948 on Randall’s ‘Hurry Me Down’, and formed her own Beryl’s Backroom Boys to reproduce the music of the pre-bop era. Despite all this activity and a growing following, singing was only a part-time occupation for her, and it was not until the early 50s that she became a full-time performer. In the 50s and 60s her career was perhaps stronger in mainland Europe than the UK, and she played with visiting Americans including Sidney Bechet and Mary Lou Williams. In 1954 she played washboard on a cover version of Lead Belly’s ‘Rock Island Line’ from Barber’s New Orleans Joy album. Featuring skiffle singer Lonnie Donegan on vocals, the single went on to sell two million copies and reached the US Top 10. Bryden achieved her biggest hit, ‘Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer’, in 1961 during the short-lived ‘trad’ boom.


From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Music.

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