Born in London, he learned the violin as a child before joining cinema orchestras providing the accompaniment to silent movies. When living in Edinburgh in the early 1920s he began playing in the band led by Murray Hedges, before joining the Billy Cotton Band in 1925 and making his first recordings. He also recorded with Ambrose's orchestra in the mid-1920s. He left Cotton to form his own dance band in 1931, and the following year became the resident bandleader at the Grosvenor Hotel in London.
His band started recording in 1932, first for Zonophone and then Decca, and made regular appearances on BBC radio after 1933. Among his musicians were Ted Heath, George Evans, and Billy Munn. His daughter Celia Lipton, who later made a career as an actress and singer, joined as vocalist in the 1940s. After serving in the forces, he returned to the Grosvenor Hotel, and continued to lead the orchestra there until 1967. He later formed his own entertainment agency, and served as musical director for various venues and cruise ships.
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