Harry Roy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Harry Roy
Birth nameHarry Lipman
Born(1900-01-12)12 January 1900
Stamford Hill, London, England
Died1 February 1971(1971-02-01) (aged 71)
London, England

Harry Roy (12 January 1900 – 1 February 1971)[1] was a British dance band leader and clarinet player from the 1920s to the 1960s. He performed several songs with suggestive lyrics, including "My Girl's Pussy" (1931),[2] and "She Had to Go and Lose It at the Astor" (1939).[3][4][5]

Life and career[edit]

Roy was born Harry Lipman in Stamford Hill, London, England, and began to study clarinet and alto saxophone at the age of 16. He and his brother Sidney formed a band which they called the Darnswells, with Harry on saxophone and clarinet and Sidney on piano. During the 1920s, they performed in several prestige venues, such as the Alhambra and the London Coliseum, under names such as the Original Lyrical Five and the Original Crichton Lyricals. They spent three years at the Café de Paris, and toured South Africa, Australia and Germany.

By the early 1930s, Harry Roy was fronting the band under his own name, and broadcasting from the Café Anglais and the Mayfair Hotel.[6] In 1931, he wrote (along with Anthony Fanzo) and sang "My Girl's Pussy",[7] which has since been the subject of many cover versions and remakes. In 1935, he married Elizabeth Brooke (stage name: Princess Pearl), daughter of the White Rajah of Sarawak, with whom he appeared in two musical films, Everything Is Rhythm (1936) and Rhythm Racketeer (1937).[6] Appearing in the former film were Roy's two pianists, Ivor Moreton and Dave Kaye. They had originally been part of Harry Roy's Tiger Ragamuffins, a smaller outfit composed of members of the main band, which also included drummer Joe Daniels. Moreton and Kaye left Roy's band in early 1936, going on to a successful career as piano duettists in their own right.[8]

During the Second World War, Roy toured with the Tiger Ragamuffins.[9] He was at the Embassy Club in 1942, and a little later, toured the Middle East, entertaining troops with singer Mary Lee.[10]

In 1948, Roy travelled to the United States, but was refused a work permit. Returning to Britain, he reformed his band and scored a hit with his recording of "Leicester Square Rag".[6]

By the early 1950s, the big band era had come to an end. Roy's band split up, but he still drifted in and out of the music scene. In the 1950s, he ran his own restaurant, the Diners' Club, but it was destroyed by fire. In 1969 Roy returned to music, leading a quartet in London's Lyric Theatre's show Oh Clarence and his own Dixieland Jazz Band resident during the summer at the newly-refurbished Sherry's Dixieland Showbar in Brighton, but he was by then in failing health. He died in London in February 1971.[6]


  1. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 2154/5. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ Chris Han (16 August 2013). "8 Sexually Explicit Songs From the 1930s - CollegeHumor Post". Collegehumor.com. Archived from the original on 5 May 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Harry Roy & his Mayfair Hotel Orchestra – She had to go and lose it at the Astor (1939)". Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2009.
  4. ^ Leigh, Spencer (2008). This Record Is Not to Be Broadcast: 75 Records Banned by the BBC 1931–1957 (liner notes). Acrobat Music Group. ACTRCD9015.
  5. ^ "Harry Roy - She Had To Go And Lose It At The Astor, 1939". YouTube. 28 December 2007. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d Larkin, Colin, ed. (2009), "Winnick Maurice", Encyclopedia of Popular Music (online ed.), Muze Inc and Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-531373-4, retrieved 2 September 2010
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Arthur Calkin with Harry Roy". Graham Calkin's Family Tree. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  9. ^ "Harry Roy'S Tiger Ragamuffins - British Pathé". Britishpathe.com. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  10. ^ Lee, Mary (2005). Forever Francie : my life with Jack Milroy. Edinburgh, Scotland: Black & White Publishing. ISBN 9781845028329.

External links[edit]