1944 Kenny Ball R.I.P.
Kenny was born in 1930 in Ilford, Essex. He began his career as a sideman in bands before forming his own in 1958. Moving away from the overworked traditional repertoire, the band sought out tuneful songs from all sources, gave them the ‘Kenny Ball’ treatment, gained hit after hit, and took the band to worldwide renown during the heyday of the traditional jazz boom of the 1960’s. Kenny was at Mayfield from 1941 to 1944. During his time there he was Captain of the Cricket and Athletic Teams. He also started a band while at the school.
From the Ilford Recorder
Legendary jazzman Kenny Ball took a trip down memory lane when he returned to his old school for the first time in 62 years. The Ilford-born musician choked back tears as he walked through the doors of the old school, now Mayespark Primary School, Goodmayes Lane, with fellow former pupil Bob Fordham.
Mr Ball, 76, attended what was then Mayfield School between November 1941 and July 1944 and even found his name in the original register. He said: ‘I’ve got so many memories of this place and it’s wonderful to come back after all these years.’
Mr Ball, who now lives on a farm near Stansted Airport, grew up in Oakwood Gardens, Seven Kings, and Mr Fordham, 74, of Gidea Park, both reminisced about their time at the school during a guided tour last week. He said: ‘I was athletics and cricket captain here. I can remember on June 6, 1944 I was out practicing in the field when news of the Normandy landings came through. There are flats on that field now. Where we were standing in reception used to be the boys toilets – it’s changed a lot. My times here were quite dangerous because of the war. Planes were flying over a lot and once I was on the bus into Ilford and there was an explosion 300 yards in front of me, which killed the caretaker from South Park School.’
Mr Ball, who toured with many jazz greats, including Louis Armstrong in the 1960s, thrilled pupils with an impromptu rendition of Midnight in Moscow. ‘I had lots of hit records and I started playing the trumpet when I was here,’ he told them. ‘I joined Ilford Sea Cadets when I was 12 years old and they gave me a bugle to blow, but it only had eight notes. Luckily I discovered the trumpet.’
A few weeks ago, I was speaking to a musician who knew Kenny Ball very well and of whom he spoke fondly. His name is Steve Galler and he told me how he played banjo in Kenny’s band many years ago. Steve later went on to form his own band. Today he works mainly as a solo artist. He remains a wonderful player, singer and entertainer.
My mum worked in Greens Stores, Green Lane, Seven Kings and she used to tell me when Kenny Ball came in the shop and she served him. I never got to see him and mum never got his autograph for me.
One evening in the 1990′s, after work, I was having a couple of drinks in The Champion, Eastcastle Street, London W1. Kenny Ball was in there with his band members enjoying a few bevies and I assumed they were performing at the nearby 100 Club that evening. They were having a great time so I didn’t introduce myself as a fellow pupil from his old school. Almost wish I had now!
Thanks for bringing back some good memories of my days at Mayfield School. I was there during the sixties and did not realise until I saw the photos on the web site that Kenny Ball was an ex pupil. To my amazement, the other pupil with him is my uncle Bob. The two of them have been friends for many years and performed on many a stage together. The family rumour is that Kenny Ball used to practice his trumpet in my Nan’s front room in Dunkeld Road as he was, and still is, a friend of the Fordham family.
My Dad worked on the counter at Ilford Post Office in the early 1960s and used to serve Kenny Ball. My Dad always enjoyed jazz, but I never did get Kenny’s autograph.
Sorry to hear that Kenny Ball, an old boy of Mayfield, passed away on March 7th 2013. Lots of us grew up with his music around those times.
Kenny Ball was a regular customer at a local dry cleaners where my mother worked in the early 70’s. He once arrived to collect a stage suit just after the shop had closed. My mother (now 92) remembers him going down on his knees outside the shop pleading for her to re-open, which of course she did. As a cub scout in the 60’s I washed his car for ‘bob-a-job’ week when he still lived in Westrow Gardens. A nice man and a great musician who will be much missed.
Although I used to be a big traditional jazz fan I was not a big fan of Kenny Ball. Bit snooty, thought he was too commercial, but I now see what a fine musician he was. Another part of my childhood slipping away.
I am so sorry to hear of the death of Kenny Ball. I attended one of his shows in 2011 and it was pure delight from beginning to end. The talent of Kenny Ball and his fellow musicians was outstanding – an evening I will never forget.
So sorry to hear Kenny Ball had passed away. I remember going to see him and his band, he was on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. I like traditional jazz and the performance was amazing. This would have been in 1963, I think. My favourite was Midnight in Moscow. Rest in peace, Kenny, you will live on through your music.
Sorry to hear of the passing of Kenny Ball. He used to live in my street years ago and I remember hearing him playing his trumpet as I walked passed his house on my way to the chip shop. I believe he used to play a bugle in the Sea Cadet Unit I attended. I wasn’t really into jazz but I did buy one of his albums.
Kenny Ball’s passing is a sad loss. Although I wasn’t really into his style of music in my younger days, my father enjoyed listening to Kenny Ball very much. Of course, my friends and I were quite proud to have been associated in some small way with this talented musician by attending the same great school. My condolences to his family.
I danced to ‘Strangers On The Shore’ at my wedding. Thanks Kenny.
Sorry, got that wrong it was Aker Bilk not Ken, but thanks anyway.
Kenny and Acker were often mistaken for each other, Derek. To Lorraine Cottey – the last thing Kenny could be accused of was being Snooty. He was about as ‘East End’ as you could get.
Kenny Ball used to live on the bungalo estate in Goodmayes with his mum. In the 1960’s he used to bring his car to us for servicing, he had a Mk10 Jaguar. Kenny Ball, Sean Connery and Bobby Moore were pals and for a while they owned Gidea Park Motors the Jaguar Dealership. Bobby Moore was the only one who had his car serviced there. Sean Connery also brought his car to us, a Jensen CV8, although it was a bit of a botch, with a BMC 6 cylinder engine. Gidea Park Motors car servicing couldn’t have been up to much at the time.