I think I have featured Billy Cotton in a previous blog but I expect the files have long since elapsed so here are some more from a recent find - an Ace Of Clubs label release from the early 60's. A mixture of standards, sickly ballads, cockney knees-up and novelty songs that was typical of his radio and television shows of the 50's and 60's. Also appearing here are Alan Breeze, Doreen Stevens and the Bandits.
"Billy Cotton, whose theme song was "Somebody Stole My Gal", was one of the most famous British dance band leaders. As both a drummer and vocalist, he had the talents to either stand in front of a band or back it up. Cotton's group was known not only for its dance numbers but a well-mounted comedy skits as well. He began his career as a drummer in the Royal Fusiliers at a mere 15 years old and by 18 had received a commission in the Royal Flying Corps.
As might be expected, military music was only a part of the picture and by night he would be behind the drums in various camp combos. After the war his syncopation was at first limited to the activities of a bus conductor and he also worked at jobs such as a butcher's roundsman and a millwright's assistant. Meanwhile a few gigs trickled in such as a spot with Gilbert Coombes and his Fifth Avenue Orchestra in Kilburn.
In the early '20s he was hardly riding high in the music business; typical pay for a trio job of that period was a bit less than 10 bucks. Eventually Cotton set his sights on starting his own band, including his cousin Laurie Johnson whose talents included promotion as well as the violin. By 1925, Billy Cotton and his London Savannah Band was landing extended stints at venues such as the Southport Palais, with the fine players Syd Lipton and Joe Ferrie in the band on violin and trombone respectively. During the two year life of this job, Cotton evolved from presenting simply dance music to mounting more of a visual stage act."