jabw_vintage/report no. 26

Let Us Tell You About.....

Andy McDevitt, jazz clarinet and sax player, dance band musician, of the 1930's - 1940's

this page first published by John Wright, 22 April 2002
last updated 5 May 2012vintage@r2ok.co.uk
I'm always delighted to hear from family of our great musicians and I was most interested to hear from Carolyn Dee, daughter of Andy McDevitt. As well as the RAF Dance Orchestra Andy worked with Bert Ambrose, Sydney Kyte, Roy Fox, Geraldo and Lew Stone. Andy also recorded with British jazz outfits assembled by the likes of Benny Carter, Johnny Claes and Tiny Winters.
This web page has started up rather short of detail regarding Andy McDevitt's career so I hope that readers will be able to make some contributions.
The jazz and dance band discographies and the Who's Who Of British Jazz (Chilton) combine to give the following career steps:

1934:Worked for Louis Freeman in Scotland (and on liner California), then did summer season with Slim Grossman in Bournemouth
1935:Worked with Billy Mason, then again with Louis Freeman's Orchestra in Glasgow until joining Teddy Joyce in June 1935.
1936: Left Carl Tauber to join Ambrose briefly in spring. Later with Sydney Kyte and Gerry Moore.
1937: Worked with Benny Carter in London
1938: With Roy Fox, then joined Dennis Van Thal's Orchestra (summer) and later with Oscar Grasso's Band.
1939:joined Geraldo (January), also did regular radio work with Phil Watts (1938-9). With Jack Nathan's Quintet (late 1939).
1940: Joined RAF and became founder-member of the Squadronaires.
Also guested with various bands during the early 1940s, including work with Lew Stone, Johnny Claes. Remained with the Squadronaires through World War II, and stayed until early 1952.
Then became highly successful freelance musician, often with the BBC Variety Orchestra. Studio work through the 1960s and 1970s, regularly with the BBC Radio Orchestra. Continued to play freelance gigs including taking part in Dave Hancock's Big Band during the 1970s.

I expect I can locate one or more of the jazz group recordings featuring Andy Mcdevitt and should be able to identify his solo breaks for this web page.
Courtesy of Memory Lane magazine, we have two photographs featuring Andy, one with the Geraldo Orch, the other shows him in uniform with a few of the Squads.

Andy Mcdevitt is third from the right, back row
the five Squaddies are:
Harry Lewis, George Chisholm, Jock Cummings, Andy McDevitt, Tommy McQuater
Carolyn has offered some information on Andy's post-WWII career. "At some point after leaving the Squadronaires Andy joined the BBC Variety Orchestra. I believe this orchestra was involved in such programes as "Round the Horne" and "Beyond our Ken" starring Kenneth Horne and Kenneth Williams among others. The orchestra also had regular musical programmes and on one of these broadcasts my father performed "Clarinet a la King" which was highly acclaimed throughout the music world. I have the original, and I think the only copy, of this on 78rpm. The Variety Orchestra later became the New Radio Orchestra and he remained in the orchestra, as far as I know, for some years."
Carolyn added: "As far as Andy McDevitt's early life goes I know very little. One thing I remember him telling me is that he used to shave matchsticks to a point so that he could listen to and study records at all hours of the day and night without disturbing anybody. When at a young age I showed an interest in classical music, he presented me with a copy of Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe, rather heavy going for a small child but it did not deter my interest in the least. I have no idea as to how or where Andy was trained in music, I have very few photographs and only a copy of "Something in the Air". This is a 33rpm but I have been able to order a CD from an American website".
Carolyn adds: "As a child, I sang with the Stargazers on a Mars "Spangles" jingle, and also with Dave King on a Christmas record around 1957 called "Shake Me I Rattle" both of which I have on 78rpm. I have been unable to find any other trace of the latter; the "A" side was "Chances Are".

I am grateful to Carolyn Dee, Andrew Williams (for Who's Who) and Ray Pallett for their support in starting up this web page.

There is an active discussion group where you can talk about Andy McDevitt and other musicians of the 1920's-1940's:

Subscribe to British dance bands group

or check out the group site first at http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/british-dance-bands/

E-mail John Wright me if you want to contribute information or scanned photographs to this page

return to the

Personalities page