Henry Hall (bandleader)

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Henry Hall
Wills card of Henry Hall.JPG
Background information
Birth name Henry Robert Hall
Born (1898-05-02)2 May 1898
Peckham, England, UK
Died 28 October 1989(1989-10-28) (aged 91)
Eastbourne, Sussex, England, UK
Genres British dance band
Occupations Bandleader, composer, arranger, actor
Associated acts The New BBC Dance Orchestra

Henry Hall (2 May 1898 – 28 October 1989) was an English bandleader who performed regularly on BBC Radio during the British dance band era of the 1920s and 1930s, through to the 1960s.

Early life and career[edit]

Henry Hall was born in Peckham, South London. He won a scholarship to Trinity College of Music where he studied trumpet, piano, harmony and counterpoint.

His first job was as copyist at the head office of the Salvation Army for which he wrote several marches. During World War I, Hall served with the Royal Field Artillery and played trumpet and piano in the regimental band.

Hall's musical career was slow to start but eventually he was engaged by the London Midland and Scottish Railway to take charge of music throughout their then large chain of hotels, including Gleneagles Hotel, where he had previously led the band.

In June 1924, on the opening night of the Gleneagles Hotel, Hall persuaded the BBC to broadcast the event on radio, which began his long association with BBC radio.

The 1930s: broadcasting star[edit]

It was from Gleneagles that the BBC took him in 1932 to succeed Jack Payne as band leader of the BBC Dance Orchestra. At 5.15pm each weekday, Hall's radio programme from Broadcasting House gathered a huge following across the nation. His signature tune was "It's Just the Time for Dancing", and he usually concluded with "Here's to the Next Time".

In 1932 he recorded the songs "Here Comes the Bogeyman" and "Teddy Bears' Picnic" with his BBC Orchestra, featuring singer Val Rosing on vocals. The latter song gained enormous popularity and sold over a million copies. In 1934 his popularity was confirmed when his orchestra topped the bill at the London Palladium.

He featured in the documentary BBC The Voice of Britain (1935), the source of the "This is Henry Hall speaking" clip much used in documentaries on this period.

In 1936 Henry Hall made his first feature film and in the same year he was guest conductor of the ship's orchestra on the Queen Mary’s maiden voyage.

In 1937 the BBC Dance Orchestra played at the opening of the Gaumont State Cinema in Kilburn. The same year Hall left the BBC to tour with his own band, which comprised many members of his BBC band. He toured the halls of Britain and Europe, and generated controversy by dropping songs by Jewish composers while playing in Berlin in February 1938.[1]

Hall's band was the first to appear on television.[citation needed]

Later years[edit]

During the Second World War, Hall played for the troops, and gave concerts and shows in factories all over Britain.

Post-war, he developed his show business interests, becoming something of an agent and producer. His BBC work again blossomed as he hosted Henry Hall's Guest Night on the radio and later TV, as well as the programme Face the Music.

Hall had a son, Michael, who served in the Royal Navy.

In 1956, Hall published an autobiography Here's to the Next Time.

He ceased regular broadcasting in 1964 and was appointed the OBE in 1970. He died in Eastbourne, Sussex, in October 1989.

A green memorial plaque on the site of his former home at 8 Randolph Mews, Little Venice, was unveiled on 2 May 1996.[2] A blue plaque commemorates Hall at 38 Harman Drive in Cricklewood, London.[3]


  1. ^ McCarthy, Albert (1974). The Dance Band Era. The Hamyln Publishing Group Ltd. 
  2. ^ City of Westminster green plaques http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/leisureandculture/greenplaques/
  3. ^ "HALL, HENRY (1898–1989)". English Heritage. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 

External links[edit]