Al Bowlly Timeline

this page first published by John Wright, 26 Oct 1997
last update 3 September

1899-1941, events in Al's life outside the recording studio

presentation in this format (c) copyright Ray Pallett/John Wright.
References: Goodnight Sweetheart and They Called Him Al(Ray Pallett)
Terry Brown
Peter Mintun

The intention is to build up a full timeline of Al Bowlly's tours and show appearances. Please e-mail John Wright with any additions, corrections.

New additions font colour Blue



18997 January Al Bowlly born in Laurenco Marques, Portuguese East Africa, (now Maputo, Mozambique)
1903Al's parents naturalised in South Africa
1913Left school to become a barber
1921Al became naturalised South African, applied for passport
1922Al joined the Clark and Adeler dance band organisation, met Len Fillis.
band played at Corner Lounge Tea Rooms, Pritchard Street, Johannesburg
1923Al Learned to play tenor banjo
~July the band played at Selbourne Hall, Johannesburg
played at Mafeking, Francistown on route to Rhodesia
venues in Rhodesia included Marrandellas, Broken Hill, Salisbury
played at Beira (Portuguese East Africa), Dar es Salaam, Mombasa and Royal Theatre, Nairobi
~Nov Adeler band begin Asian tour, possibly using the name London Syncopating Orchestra
venues included Excelsior Theatre, Bombay, The Empire and at the Calcutta Gardens, Calcutta for New Year celebrations.
1924Indian tour continued, including venues at Allahabad, Lucknow, Delhi, Landi Kotal, Agra, Hyderabad, Madras
sailed to Malaya, one night at Raffles Hotel, Singapore
sailed to Java, playing at the Harmony Club, Jakarta and the British Club, Semarang
Sept Al sacked by Adeler
Al is seen performing with Phillipino Jazz Band in Surabaya
1925Working in Calcutta including Firpo's Restaurantand The Grand Hotel
1926~April Joined Jimmy Lequime's band at the Grand Hotel, Calcutta
1927~Jan Lequime's band at Raffles Hotel, Singapore
May Al rejoined Edgar Adeler in Germany, playing at the Regina Palast, Munich
~Aug Al and Adeler moved to Berlin, as 'Edgar Adeler and his Hawaiian Quartett'
Al made his first records with Homochord, 18 August
1928 February possibly joined Fred Rich Band performing at the Wintergarten, Berlin
May Al joins Billy Bartholomew's band, playing at the Delphi Palast, Berlin
July Al Bowlly arrives in Britain, accepting invitation to join Fred Elizalde's band at the Savoy Hotel. Met Noble Sissle.
~Sept Elizalde band worked in Paris, Les Ambassadeurs Restaurant, and Ostend
1929Apr Al appeared at the London Palladium with the Elizalde band
23 June appeared with band at Shepherd's Bush Pavilion
31 July Elizalde's contract at Savoy ended
~Sept joined Ernie Rutterford band, played at various hotels, theatres (Sunday League stage shows), and functions
~Dec Blue Boys formed, Len Fillis, Al Bowlly, Edgar Adeler, Al Starita
193020 Jan Blue Boys appeared at Argyle Theatre, Birkenhead. A tour in Northern Ireland followed, and appearances in Keighley and the Pleasure garens, Folkestone.
Feb Blue Boys broke up
~Dec Al met Roy Fox and was offered job as vocalist with his band at Decca
193127 May Roy Fox band opens at the Monseigneur Restaurant, and was soon broadcasting every Tuesday night at 10.30pm. Cine-Variety stage appearances with band, including Paramount Cinema, Regent Street
Al was living in Cranbourne Mansions, Charing Cross Road, and later moved to 17 Orange Street, Piccadilly
Oct Roy Fox went to Switzerland to recuperate from illness. Lew Stone assumed leadership of the Roy Fox band
Lew Stone arranged music for film A Night Like This in which Al sang
18 Dec Al married Freda Roberts, but they broke up in Jan 1932
1932Apr Roy Fox returned to London to lead his band
Roy Fox band appeared at London Palladium, and appeared in a Pathe short in which Al did not sing
24 Oct Lew Stone replaces Roy Fox as bandleader at the Monseigneur but a legal case prevents Lew's band from broadcasting
2 NovemberWednesday. Lew Stone resumes broadcasting from the Monseigneur, 10.30pm spot on BBC
October the film 'Mayor's Nest' showing at cinemas including The Kosmos, Tunbrisge Wells.
193313 Feb Lew Stone band performs in Yorkshire
Other appearances included London Palladium and Holborn Empire
Boosey and Hawkes produced a roll-up megaphone "designed by Al Bowlly".
May Ray Noble's studio band appeared at Cambridge May Ball
Aug Ray Noble took studio band to Holland, appearing at Kurhaus, Schveningen
w/c 11 Sept Al performed as solo artiste at Holborn Empire, London accompanied by Monia Liter (piano), sharing bill with Louis Armstrong
Nov Lew Stone band moves to Cafe Anglais
1934Feb Lew Stone band began a series of appearances at Mecca Theatres
12 February Al Bowlly and Monia Liter appeared at the Holborn Empire, London
Mar Lew Stone returned to Monseigneur but it closes in the summer
Al's radio appearances included shows 'Hear Hear', 'Friends To Tea', 'Crooner's Corner', 'America Calling'.
Oct Al Bowlly and Bill Harty join Ray Noble in USA
18 Dec Al marries Marjie
Al broadcast with Victor Young orch.
1935Al broadcast with the Ray Noble orchestra and Al Goodman orchestra.
31 May Ray Noble's band opened at the Rainbow Room, Rockefellar Center. Other apprearances followed including the Astor and the New Yorker
19364th May Ray Noble band play gig at Nuttings On The Charles, which was a ballroom in Waltham, MA.
5th May Ray Noble's band appeared at the Auditorium, Burlington, Vermont
31st May Ray Noble's band appeared at the Steel Pier, Atlantic City
June - July Ray Noble's band entertained at the Hollywood Dinner Club, Galveston, Texas, and on 23rd and 24th July 1936, at the Rainbow Terrace, atop St Anthony's Hotel, in San Antonio, Texas.
Aug Al and Ray Noble returned to England for a spell.
Al was filmed singing 'My Melacholy Baby'.
On returning to USA Ray Noble took his band on tour including Boston
Al was filmed for 'Big Broadcast of 1936' but was edited out of the film
1937Jan Al Bowlly leaves Ray Noble band and returns to Britain
Al and Marjie moved into 23 William Mews, Knightsbridge.
Al broadcast with Henry Hall orch.
20 February BBC radio broadcast 'Music Hall' with Jenny Howard, Leonard Henry and Alberta Hunter
Al assembled his own band 'Al Bowlly's Radio City Rhythm Makers'.
1 Mar band debuted at the Birmingham Empire
w/c 8 March Al appeared at the Paramount Theatre, Tottenham Court Road
then Hammershith Palais
w/c 12 April Al appeared at the Palace Theatre, Blackpool
27 April Al and Mish Bowlly (piano) with Archie Slavin (guitar) appeared at the Paramount Theatre, Headrow, Leeds
After a appearance in Dublin Al complained of throat problems.
Al's band broke up.
Marjie left Al.
Al formed a relationship with Helen Bevan.
Al toured the country again with Mish Bowlly and Archie Slavin.
July Al appeared at the Hammersmith Palais with Archie Slavin and Robin Richmond (Hammond organ).
Al travelled to USA for a throat operation which was successful.
Dec Al returned to England. Al and Helen stayed at the Mapleton Hotel.
193818 Jan Al began broadcasting with Sidney Lipton orchestra and later with Lew Stone's band, Geraldo's band, Henry Hall (guest night) and Bert Ambrose.
Al broadcast on commercial radio including Radio Lyons, Radio Luxembourg, Radio Eirann and Post Parisien.
Summer Al appeared with Lew Stone at Butlin's Holiday Camps at Clacton-on -Sea and Skegness.
Other venues where Al Bowlly appeared: East Ham Town Hall and York Hall, Bethnal Green
21 June Al appeared but did not sing on television, transmitted from Harringay Boxing Arena
1939Summer Al appeared in Weston-super-Mare with Reg Williams band
Al and Helen moved to Dukes Court, 32 Duke Street.
1st January Al appeared at the Regal Theatre, Hull
6 February Al appeared at Dey's Tower Ballroom, Sheffield
5 March Al appeared at Prince's Theatre, Hull
19 March Al appeared at the Regent Theatre, Barker's Pool, Sheffield
9 August Al appeared at Priory Palais de Danse, Whitley Bay
November on a tour with with pianists Ivor Moreton and Dave Kaye, Al is plagued by throat problems and losing his voice
4 December at a theatre in Morecombe with pianists Ivor Moreton and Dave Kaye
1940Jan 'Radio Stars with Two Guitars', Al Bowlly and Jimmy Mesene, debut at Theatre Royal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
18 February Al appeared with Maurice Winnick's Orchestra at the Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells
March Al Bowlly and Jimmy Mesene, 'Anglo-Greek Ambassadors of Song', Bristol Empire.
May Al Bowlly performed at Lew Stone band's last stage appearance, at Colston Hall, Bristol
19 May Al appeared in a show at Connaught Theatre, Worthing
23 September Al Bowlly and Jimmy Mesene appeared at Coventry Hippodrome
7 December Al Bowlly appeared at Coventry Hippodrome with Arthur Askey and Evelyn Laye and others
1941Feb Al performed with Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson's band at the Cafe de Paris
Mar Al performing at Scunthorpe Palais De Danse
w/c 24 March Al and Jimmy Mesene appeared at Kingston Empire.
w/c 7th April Al and Jimmy Mesene appeared at Bristol Empire.
14th-16th April Al and Jimmy Mesene appeared in Cine Variety at Rex Theatre, High Wycombe
17 Apr Al Bowlly died during an air raid


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