Oscar Rabin Band

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The Oscar Rabin Band was a popular British dance band.


Oscar Rabin formed his first band with Harry Davis, the Romany Five in 1922, performing at the Palais de Dance in Derby. Rabin played violin, but during the next decade he formed a dance band in which he began to play bass saxophone. The band was expanded during the 1930s. Actor Sam Kydd began his career as the band's master of ceremonies.

Rabin, short and fat, never led a band, nor was he regarded as more than a journeyman musician. His role was to run the business side. His partner Harry, who occasionally played guitar, was good with audiences. (Harry's daughter Beryl Davis became a professional singer, and moved to the US.) Billy Nicholls Sr. was a singer and would duet alongside. However, the combination of the two men was a successful one and audiences took to them.

Key players[edit]

The band included Ken Mackintosh (alto saxophone), Bobby Benstead (trumpet), Ken Wray (trombone) Eric Jupp (piano/arranger), Kenny Clare (drums), Cecil Pressling (alto saxophone). The band usually consisted of fifteen members, with two or three vocalists. Occasionally popular instrumentalists joined the band, such as Don Rendell (tenor saxophone), Jimmy Deuchar (trumpet), and Arthur Greenslade (piano/arranger). Trombonist Ken Wray would later play with Ronnie Scott's big band. Vocalists included Dennis Hale, Marjorie Daw, Gary Gowan, Bernard Manning, Marion Davis, Mel Gaynor, Pattie Forbes, and Johnny Worth.

In 1953, Harry Davis left the band and the UK, breaking up a partnership that had lasted for 30 years, and went to live with his daughter and her husband in California. He was replaced by David Ede, a clarinet player who had been with the band for around five years. He was an arranger and formed a vocal quartet in the band. The band was invited to work at the Lyceum Ballroom on the Strand in central London, a job that lasted over five years. A residency involved six afternoon and six evening sessions per week.

Later history[edit]

In the late 1950s through the early 1960s, the band was resident at the Wimbledon Palais under the direction of David Ede and the management of Oscar's son Bernard. Personnel included Arthur Greenslade (piano), Sammy Stokes, Ron Prentice (bass), Freddy Adamson (drums), Don Sanford (guitar), Cecil Pressling (alto), Rex Morris (tenor), David Ede (alto and tenor), and Don Honeywill (baritone). The vocalists were Ray Pilgrim, Colin Day and Lorie Mann, with Mike Redway replacing Day and Barbara Kay replacing Mann. This was the period of the band's longest running BBC radio series, the Go Man Go program which ran weekly for four years. Sometime after 1957, Brian Haden joined the band, playing alto saxophone and clarinet.

In the mid 1960s, the band broke up after the death of David Ede, who drowned in a sailing accident off Blackpool. But the Rabin name in music was carried on with the Mike Rabin Band led by Oscar's grandson.