Al Tabor

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Alfred Taboriwsky (1898–1983), known as Al Tabor, was an English bandleader, best known as the supposed originator of the song the "Hokey cokey", even though versions of the song had been published long before Tabor.

Tabor was born in Whitechapel in the East End of London to Jewish parents who had fled the pogroms of Vilnius, then in Russia.[1] A musical prodigy as a child, he studied the violin under Mischa Elman, and at the age of 11 won a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music.[2] He spent the years of World War I staying with relatives of his mother in Boston, Massachusetts, where he came under the influence of the newly emerging jazz music, forming first a trio and then his own band that played in hotels in and around Boston.[2]

On his return from the United States he played in many bands in England from the 1920s until the 1950s,[2] and from 1928 was the Music Director of the Hammersmith and Birmingham Palais.[3] It was during The Blitz in 1940 that he allegedly first composed and his band first played the "Hokey Cokey".[2] Despite this claim, versions of the song can be found from 1826,[4] 1891,[5] and 1892,[6] all before Tabor was born.

Ben Shaw is married to the great niece of Al Taboriwsky and he has been told that he definitely wrote the song.


  1. ^ Krotosky, Lauren (2009-05-14), "Hokey Cokey in tune with modern times",, London: Totally Communications, archived from the original on 2016-03-05, retrieved 2013-02-10 
  2. ^ a b c d The Hokey Cokey Man - The Story of Al and The Origins of The Song, London: New End Theatre, 2009, retrieved 2013-02-10 
  3. ^ Thomas, Mike, "Al Tabor", Dance Band Encyclopaedia, retrieved 2013-02-10 
  4. ^ Chambers, Robert. Popular Rhymes of Scotland.
  5. ^ Nicholson, Edward Williams Byron. Golspie: Contributions to Its Folklore.
  6. ^ Northall, G. F. English Folk-Rhymes: A collection of traditional verses relating to places and persons, customs, superstitions, etc. 1892. pg. 361

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