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Ted Heath and his Music: band formation and career
Heath was inspired by Glenn Miller and his Army Air Force Band and spoke with Miller at length about forming his own band when Miller toured Britain with the USAAF Orchestra. Heath admired the immaculate precision of the Miller ensemble and felt confident that he could emulate Miller’s success with his own orchestra.
In 1944, Heath talked Douglas Lawrence, the Dance Music Organiser for the BBC's Variety Department, into supporting a new band with a broadcasting contract. Lawrence was sceptical as Heath wanted a much larger and more jazz orientated band than anyone had seen in Britain before. This band followed the American model, and featured 5 Saxes, 4 Trombones, 4 Trumpets, Piano, Guitar, Bass and Drums. The new Ted Heath Band, originally organised as a British "All Star Band" playing only radio dates, was first heard on a BBC broadcast in 1944.
In 1945, the BBC decreed that only permanent, touring bands could appear on radio. So Ted Heath and his Music was officially formed on D-Day, 1944.
In late 1945, American bandleader Toots (Tutti) Camarata came to UK as musical director for the film London Town (1946) starring comedian Sid Field. This film was intended to be Britain's first attempt to emulate the American film musicals of studios such as MGM and Camarata commissioned Heath to provide his band as the nucleus for the film's orchestra. The film was not a success.
Heath arranged a stint at the Winter Gardens at Blackpool in 1946, a Scandinavian tour, a fortnight at the London Casino with Lena Horne, and backed Ella Fitzgerald at the London Palladium.
Huge popularity quickly followed and Heath's Band and his musicians were regular Poll Winners in the Melody Maker and the NME (New Musical Express) – Britain’s leading music newspapers. Subsequently Heath was asked to perform at two Royal Command Performances in front of King George VI in 1948 and 1949.
In 1947 Heath persuaded impresario Val Parnell, uncle of the band's star drummer Jack Parnell, to allow him to hire the London Palladium for alternating Sundays for his Sunday Night Swing Sessions. The band caused a sensation and eventually played 110 Sunday concerts, ending in August 1955, consolidating the band's popular appeal from the late 1940s. These concerts allowed the band to play much more in a jazz idiom than it could in ballrooms. In addition to the Palladium Sunday night concerts the band appeared regularly at the Hammersmith Palais and toured the UK on a weekly basis. Fanart Banner