Carroll Gibbons

Last updated

Carroll Gibbons
Carroll Gibbons cigarette card circa 1934.JPG
Image of Gibbons from the W.D. & H.O. Wills Radio Celebrities cigarette card series
Background information
Birth nameCarroll Richard Gibbons
Born(1903-01-04)January 4, 1903
Clinton, Massachusetts, United States
DiedMay 10, 1954(1954-05-10) (aged 51)
London, England
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s)Pianist, bandleader, composer
Instrument(s) Piano
Years active1920s–1954

Carroll Richard Gibbons (January 4, 1903 May 10, 1954) was an American-born pianist, bandleader and popular composer who made his career primarily in England during the British dance band era. [1]


Early life and career

He was born and raised in Clinton, Massachusetts, United States, [1] one of three children of Peter and Mary Gibbons. In his late teens he travelled to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music. [2] In 1924, he returned to London as a relief pianist with the Boston Orchestra for an engagement at the Savoy Hotel in the Strand. [2] [3]

He liked Britain so much that he settled there, and after becoming painist with the Sylvians, featuring members of the Savoy Orpheans, he later became the co-leader (with Howie Jacobs) of the Orpheans, the resident band at the Savoy Hotel until their contract ended in 1927, when they embarked on a tour of Germany. [2] On his return, he became Director of Light Music at His master's Voice Records, and the bandleader of the New MayFair Orchestra, which recorded for the Gramophone Company on the HMV label. [1] [2]

In 1929, Gibbons appeared in the British film Splinters as "Carroll Gibbons and His Masters Voice Orchestra". Ray Noble led the New Mayfair [sic] Orchestra starting in 1929. [4]

The 1930s

Gibbons made occasional return trips to the United States but settled permanently in England, though he did spend a couple of years (1930–1931) in Hollywood, where he worked as a staff composer for MGM films. [1] He took joint leadership of the Savoy Hotel Orpheans in 1931 along with Howard Jacobs, taking sole leadership in June 1932. [2] The group recorded hundreds of popular songs (many of which were sung by Anne Lenner) between June 1932 and his death in 1954, all featuring Gibbons on piano. Starting in about 1931, he also recorded many sophisticated records featuring a piano-led small group playing pop tunes and medleys under the name of Carroll Gibbons and his Boy Friends, of which some contained tracks by singer Hildegarde. [1]

As a composer, Gibbons's most popular songs included "A Garden in the Rain" (1928) and "On the Air" (1932). The latter was covered by Rudy Vallée in 1933 and by Lud Gluskin in 1936. Gibbons' instrumental numbers "Bubbling Over" and "Moonbeam Dance" were also quite successful in the United Kingdom. Gibbons and his orchestra had a weekly show on Radio Luxembourg in the 1930s, sponsored by Hartley's Jam. [4]

Marriage and death

Gibbons' grave in Brookwood Cemetery Carroll Gibbons Grave.jpg
Gibbons' grave in Brookwood Cemetery

Gibbons married Joan Muriel (née Lidstone) in 1951. [5] He died at the London Clinic in May 1954 at the age of 51, of a coronary thrombosis. [6] He is one of several famous musicians buried in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey, England. [7]


Specialist dance band radio stations, such as Swing Street Radio and Radio Dismuke, continue to play his records. Gibbons also features regularly on the weekly Manx Radio programme Sweet & Swing , presented by Jim and Howard Caine. The UK 1940s Radio Station, a dedicated Internet radio station, also regularly plays Gibbons's records. [8]

Selected filmography

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jack Hylton</span> Musical artist

Jack Hylton was an English pianist, composer, band leader and impresario.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ray Noble</span> English jazz and big band musician

Raymond Stanley Noble was an English jazz and big band musician, who was a bandleader, composer and arranger, as well as a radio host, television and film comedian and actor; he also performed in the United States.

Benjamin Frankel was a British composer. His best known pieces include a cycle of five string quartets, eight symphonies, and concertos for violin and viola. He was also notable for writing over 100 film scores and working as a big band arranger in the 1930s. During the last 15 years of his life, Frankel also developed his own style of 12-note composition which retained contact with tonality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Palm court</span> Interior design concept

A palm court is a large atrium with palm trees, usually in a prestigious hotel, where functions are staged, notably tea dances. Examples include the Langham Hotel (1865), Alexandra Palace (1873), the Carlton Hotel (1899), and the Ritz Hotel (1906), all in London; and the Alexandria Hotel in Los Angeles, Palace Hotel, San Francisco, Britannia Hotel in Trondheim and the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Capitalizing on their popularity, some ocean liners also had palm courts, notably the RMS Titanic (1912).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Hall (bandleader)</span> Musical artist

Henry Robert Hall, CBE was an English bandleader who performed regularly on BBC Radio during the British dance band era of the 1920s and 1930s, through to the 1960s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Way You Look Tonight</span> 1936 song by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields

"The Way You Look To-night" is a song from the film Swing Time that was performed by Fred Astaire and composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics written by Dorothy Fields. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936. Fields remarked, "The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry. The release absolutely killed me. I couldn't stop, it was so beautiful."

George Melachrino was a musician, composer of film music, and musical director who was English born of Greek and Italian descent. He was an accomplished player of the violin, viola, oboe, clarinet and saxophone.

Louis Stone known professionally as Lew Stone was a British bandleader and arranger of the British dance band era, and was well known in Britain during the 1930s. He was known as a skillful, innovative and imaginative musical arranger.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Three X Sisters</span>

The Three X Sisters were an American all-girl harmony singing trio initially known as The Hamilton Sisters and Fordyce. They were on stage singing together in New York City, on Broadway, as early as 1922 and formed their trio in 1924, which was composed of Pearl Santos and Violet Hamilton from Cumberland, Maryland, and Jessie Fordyce from Brooklyn, New York. They were known on NBC radio as "radio's foremost harmony trio."

"Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" is a popular song written by Irving Berlin for the 1935 film Top Hat, where it was introduced by Fred Astaire.

Federico "Fred" Díaz Elizalde was a Spanish Filipino classical and jazz pianist, composer, conductor, and bandleader, influential in the British dance band era.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paul Specht</span> American dance bandleader

Paul Specht was an American dance bandleader popular in the 1920s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">So Rare</span> 1957 single by Jimmy Dorsey with Orchestra and Chorus

"So Rare" is a popular song published in 1937 by composer Jerry Herst and lyricist Jack Sharpe. It became a no. 2 chart hit for Jimmy Dorsey in 1957.

Anne Lenner was an English vocalist, who sang with the British dance bands of the 1930s and 1940s. She is most closely associated with Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Orpheans, a band who regularly played at the Savoy Hotel in London, with whom she made many studio recordings. The British bands played a softer version of the swing jazz popular in the USA during the 1930s and 1940s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Savoy Orpheans</span> Dance band

The Savoy Orpheans is a British dance band currently led by Alex Mendham. They were resident at the Savoy Hotel, London.

Philip Green, sometimes credited as Harry Philip Green or Phil Green, was a British film and television composer and conductor, and also a pianist and accordion player. He made his name in the 1930s playing in and conducting dance bands, performed with leading classical musicians, scored up to 150 films, wrote radio and television theme tunes and library music, and finally turned to church music at the end of his life in Ireland, a song from which period proved so popular that it reached No 3 in the Irish charts in 1973.

Charles Remue was a Belgian clarinetist, alto saxophone player and bandleader of early jazz, who, while leading a band called Chas. Remue & His New Stompers, recorded what are widely considered to be the first jazz discs by a Belgian band.

Debroy Somers was a British twentieth-century big band bandleader.

Julie Dawn was an English singer, singing with leading dance bands in the 1940s and 1950s, and making recordings and radio broadcasts. In later years she presented radio programmes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maurice Elwin</span> Musical artist

Norman MacPhail Blair, who most often used the pseudonym Maurice Elwin in his professional work, was a British dance band singer and songwriter who was popular between the First and Second World Wars. He used over 60 different pseudonyms, both as a singer and composer, including John Curtis, Maurice Kelvin, Donald O'Keefe, Guy Victor, and Max Wynn, as well as sometimes using the name Norman Blair.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 519. ISBN   1-85227-745-9.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Rust, Brian. The Carroll Gibbons Story (Sleeve notes). EMI. SH 167/8.
  3. "Sophistication 3". Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  4. 1 2 Ades, David; Bickerdyke, Percy; Holmes, Eric (1999). This England's Book of British Dance Bands. Cheltenham: This England Books. ISBN   0-906324-25-4.
  5. "Stock Photo - CARROLL GIBBONS (1903-1954) Anglo-American bandleader marries Joan Muriel at Marylebone Register Office on 26 June 1951". Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  6. "Ancestry - Sign In". Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  7. "Search Results for "carroll gibbons" – Brookwood Cemetery". Archived from the original on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  8. "The UK 1940s Radio Station Presenters". Retrieved 11 October 2019.
A book on Carroll Gibbon's hometown with an extensive section on the life and contributions of Carroll Gibbons. Written jointly with The Savoy in London.