Harry Roy

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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
Associated actsSyd Roy, Eddie Carroll, Joe Daniels, Nat Temple, Ray Ellington, Stanley Black

Harry Roy (12 January 1900 – 1 February 1971) 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),[1] and "She Had to Go and Lose It at the Astor" (1939).[2][3][4]

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.[5] In 1931, he wrote (along with Anthony Fanzo) and sang "My Girl's Pussy",[6] which has since been the subject of many cover versions and remakes. In 1935, he married Elizabeth Brooke, daughter of the white Rajah of Sarawak, with whom he appeared in two musical films, Rhythm Racketeer (1937) and Everything Is Rhythm (1940).[5]

During the Second World War, Roy toured with his band, Harry Roy's Tiger Ragamuffins.[7] He was at the Embassy Club in 1942, and a little later, toured the Middle East, entertaining troops with singer Mary Lee.[8]

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".[5]

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.[5]


Specialist dance band radio stations continue to play his records. He also features regularly on the Manx Radio programme Sweet & Swing, presented by Howard Caine.


  1. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Leigh, Spencer (2008). This Record Is Not to Be Broadcast: 75 Records Banned by the BBC 1931–1957 (liner notes). Acrobat Music Group. ACTRCD9015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c d Larkin, Colin, ed. (2009), "Winnick Maurice", Encyclopedia of Popular Music (online ed.), Muze Inc and Oxford University Press, retrieved 2 September 2010 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Harry Roy'S Tiger Ragamuffins - British Pathé". Britishpathe.com. Retrieved 6 October 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Lee, Mary (2005). Forever Francie : my life with Jack Milroy. Edinburgh, Scotland: Black & White Publishing. ISBN 9781845028329.

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