Joe Loss

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Joe Loss
Birth nameJoshua Alexander Loss
Born(1909-06-22)22 June 1909
Spitalfields, London, England
Died6 June 1990(1990-06-06) (aged 80)
London, England
GenresSwing music, big band
  • Bandleader
  • musician
  • arranger
  • composer
Years active1919–1990
LabelsColumbia Records

Sir Joshua Alexander "Joe" Loss LVO OBE (22 June 1909 – 6 June 1990) was a British dance band leader and musician who founded his own eponymous orchestra.


Loss was born in Spitalfields, London, the youngest of four children. His parents, Israel and Ada Loss, were Russian Jews and first cousins. His father was a cabinet-maker who had an office furnishing business. Loss attended the Jews' Free School, Trinity College of Music and the London College of Music (now part of the University of West London). He started violin lessons at the age of seven and later played violin at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool and also with Oscar Rabin.

Loss started band leading in the early 1930s, working at the Astoria Ballroom and soon breaking into variety at the Kit-Cat Club. In 1934, he topped the bill at the Holborn Empire but in the same year moved back to the Astoria Ballroom where he led a twelve piece band. In 1935, Vera Lynn appeared with the Joe Loss Orchestra in her first radio broadcast.[1] With broadcasting, recording and annual tours in addition to the resident work the band became highly popular over the next few years.[2] In the 1950s and early 60s, Loss was resident band leader at the Hammersmith Palais and was remembered by a trainee nurse at Hammersmith Hospital as being as kind and gentlemanly when she attended him in hospital as he was in his public persona. His band's signature tune "In the Mood" would often be requested three or more times a night.[3]

He was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions: in May 1963 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the Hammersmith Palais in London,[citation needed] and again in October 1980, when Andrews surprised him at London's Portman Hotel during a star-studded party to celebrate Loss' 50 years in show business.[citation needed] A favourite of the British Royal Family, Loss' orchestra performed not only at Royal Variety Performances but also at Christmas parties hosted by the Royal family, which earned Loss not only the OBE but also the LVO, an honour in the personal gift of the Queen.[4]

Loss' daughter Jennifer is chair of the Jewish Music Institute in London and was married to the British car designer Robert Jankel.

Loss died on 6 June 1990 and is buried at Bushey Jewish Cemetery in Hertfordshire.[5][non-primary source needed]

Joe Loss Orchestra[edit]

The Joe Loss Orchestra was one of the most successful acts of the big band era in the 1940s, with hits including "In the Mood". In 1961 they had a hit with "Wheels—Cha Cha", a version of the String-A-Longs' hit "Wheels". Other hits included David Rose's "The Stripper" in 1958, "Sucu Sucu", "Must Be Madison", "The Theme from Maigret" and "March of the Mods (The Finnjenka Dance)" of 1964.

In April 1951 Elizabeth Batey, vocalist with Joe Loss, fell and broke her jaw. Joe was badly in need of a replacement and remembered hearing Rose Brennan on radio during a visit to Ireland. Within days he had located her and, before a week was out, she was in Manchester rehearsing with the band. She stayed with Loss for fifteen years, before giving up show-business in the mid 1960s. She wrote many of the songs she recorded with Joe Loss under the name Marella, and co-wrote songs with John Harris. Her co-vocalists with the orchestra from 1955 were Ross MacManus (father of Elvis Costello)[6] and Larry Gretton.

The Joe Loss Orchestra carries on under the musical direction of Todd Miller, who was a vocalist with the band for 19 years before Loss' death. In 1989 Joe Loss became too ill to travel and in 1990 he entrusted the leadership to his longest serving band member, trombonist and player manager of many decades, Sam Watmough and to Todd. The orchestra has been in constant operation since 1930 and in 2015 it celebrated its 85th anniversary.

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


  1. ^ Seidenberg, Steven; Sellar, Maurice; Jones, Lou (1995). You Must Remember This. Great Britain: Boxtree Ltd. p. 132. ISBN 0-7522-1065-3.
  2. ^ McCarthy, Albert J. (1971). The dance band era: the dancing decades from ragtime to swing: 1910-1950, Part 3. Chilton Book Co. p. 147. ISBN 9780801956812. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  3. ^ Franklin, Rosalind; O'Neill, Cynthia (2004). When the nightingale sang: a nurse's life in the 1950s and 1960s. Meadow Books. pp. 142–3. ISBN 978-0-9515655-3-7.
  4. ^ "Joe Loss Quartet at Barbican".
  5. ^ Erik Skytte (9 August 2005). "Joe Loss". Find A Grave. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  6. ^ Don Wicks: The Ballad Years. 1996

External links[edit]