Kenny Ball

22 May 1930 – 7 March 2013)

Last updated Sunday September 27, 2020 at 22:34:16

Listen to Kenny playing with the Sid Phillips' Band - Strut Miss Lizzie/At a Georgia Camp Meeting
           recorded at Abbey Road 5th January 1954

My thanks to John Westwood

If you can't see a music player above, click here to download the music file

07/03/13 - The jazz legend, Kenny Ball, died peacefully at the age of 82 at 7:35 am on 7th March 2013 in Basildon Hospital from pneumonia. Betty and his three children were at his bedside.

Ken's son, Keith Ball, has been 'fronting' the Jazzmen whilst Ken has been in hospital. Ken's wish is that Keith and the jazzmen carry on Kenny's music which Kenny has been playing for the past 55 years.

Les Squires
Kenny Ball Management

07/03/13 -

A phone call from Peter Vickers and emails from Pete Lay & Norman Gibson inform me that Kenny Ball has died after suffering from pneumonia. There's are obituaries at -

The Telegraph

The Guardian

Daily Mail

Listen to Radio 4 interview with John Bennett

10/03/13 -

He was a tremendous influence on me when I first started playing. Thank goodness I now play with a band who try to recreate his music. I still enjoy listening and trying to play Kenny Ball's music. I for one am sad he isn't around anymore.

Laurie Cooper.

10/03/13 -

We "jazzers" have lost a lovely man not to mention a great exponent of "Good ole Trad Jazz". I first meet Kenny round about the late 50's, when , accompanied by the members of my first Band "The Milenberg Jazzmen" we trotted along to the "Romano's Ballroom" in Belfast for his first concert in Northern Ireland. What a time we had , not only listening and dancing to the band , but also spending about 40 minutes or so talking to Kenny and the "boys". We became firm friends after that night and I was invited to join Kenny on Stage later in the "Ulster Hall", also in Belfast. Meeting up on a regular basis over the years at various Festivals etc. A very sad loss indeed. I last spoke with Kenny at the last 3B's concert in the "Waterfront" Concert Hall in Belfast around 2001, and Kenny was telling me about his illness then. My father , bless him, died earlier from the same illness.

George Moore

10/03/13 -

April 25th 2008 was the last occasion I was privileged to have a face to face conversation with one of the greatest trumpet players this country has produced; we were in Kenny's dressing room at the Liverpool Olympia in West Derby Road Liverpool 6, the original Liverpool Iron Door were promoting an event ‘Dancing Through The Years’ Kenny Ball, John Bennett, Chas McDevitt (Freight Train) Craig Douglas (Only Sixteen) and many more were on the bill.

Kenny remarked that the Olympia (Originally the LOCARNO) had not altered since he last played there, apparently his last appearance was with Sid Phillips and his Orchestra paid £30 per week, he talked about his time with the Charlie Galbraith band before he and John Bennett formed Kenny Ball's Jazzmen. We talked about the 1960s when the Kenny Ball Jazzmen played regularly at the Iron Door club 13 Temple Street Liverpool 2 particularly about one special Sunday night, the jazzmen were always booked for two consecutive nights( i.e. Friday to Saturday or Saturday to Sunday). The club had closed, most of the band were chilling on the stage in the basement, tinkering on the piano was ‘Clarence’( Dave Martin). David was still dressed in his bowler hat and was wearing his brightly coloured silk waistcoat, he was employed at the club to play the piano during the interval or band change over, he was playing a tune he suggested Kenny should seriously think of playing the song as part of the bands repertoire, Kenny agreed, he immediately assembled the band on stage and started to arrange the number; back down in London he played the tune to Lonnie Donnigan who suggested a few tweaks Kenny and the band recorded the song the rest is history they named the number ‘SAMANTHA’.

Geoff (Irondoor) Hogarth.

10/03/13 -

Kenny will be sorely missed - he was not only a good hornman but really nice bloke with it. I last saw him at Charlie Galbraith's funeral in 1997. He then pronounced that he "wasn't ready to try on a wooden overcoat"was - and the last 15 years proved he was right! It's all a bit odd, because the first time I heard Kenny play was with Chas' then-new band - out of John Haim's Jellyroll Kings, (with whom we both played) which folded because of John's premature death.

John Westwood

10/03/13 -

Kenny Ball first sparked my love of jazz when I was 12 years old and I still possess the "Golden Hits" mono LP on the Golden Guinea label which was a Christmas present in 1963. Apart from one small jump on "Midnight In Moscow" it still plays very well. As a young teenager in the early 60s I didn't join any fan clubs for beat groups, but was a proud member of the Kenny Ball Appreciation Society, receiving a signed photo and a monthly newsletter. It was his "Someday You'll Be Sorry" which led me on to explore Armstrong, Oliver and Morton and the rest as they say is history.

I was also very lucky to be able to play in support spots at his gigs in this area. The Dobbs Gutter Jazz Band played with him twice at Ormskirk Cricket Club in the late 80s. Kenny and his band were all, without exception, charming and very friendly. This was what you got with Kenny--no "big star" act, just a very down to earth, extremely nice guy. This couldn't have been more clearly demonstrated than when I was with the Mathew St Ragtime Band, again supporting Kenny's band at a gig in an Irish bar (forgotten the name) in Hanover St, Liverpool in 1995. We played the first spot, followed by Kenny doing a long one of an hour or so, with the plan for us to finish the evening. Kenny , of course, blew an absolute storm for much longer than planned, finishing off with his typical big finale, by which time it was nearly 1 a.m. Our band all agreed, "We can't follow that--let's forget the last set." but Kenny then announced that we were coming back on, so we had to. As his band were leaving to get in their bus to travel south, we began playing "Dans Les Rues D'Antibes". Suddenly, Kenny was on the stand with us, trumpet in hand, saying "Can I join you? I haven't played this one for years" He stayed on until his bus was packed up and ready to leave. Among other things we played "Original Dixieland One-Step" and he somehow got the front line playing his own trill-riff arrangement in the last chorus, and we got it right!

Wonderful memories of a true giant of British jazz. I am confident that his name will be known, and his recordings played and viewed as classics for many, many years to come.

Phil Yates

10/03/13 -

Hi Fred - we are so sad to know Kenny Ball passed away this week. We had only been to see him recently with the 3 B's, and although Kenny didn't play the trumpet as much as he did in the past, he did play some short numbers and still had that great swing about him. We have truly lost a great jazz legend. Our sincere condolences.

Edith & Brian, Anglesey.

10/03/13 -

I remember when Kenny Ball was becoming famous and had had some hits he was on a radio programme, I think it was called Jazz Club and featured one band, Kenny Ball was on and I waited for the hit parade stuff, not one was played, he just played damned good jazz different to his stage performance.

Barrie Marshall

12/03/13 -

Kenny Ball's Jazzmen was my introduction to jazz during the days of Brian Matthews' Easy Beat and Saturday Club back in the early 60's. I've still got the recordings I took off the radio of his and other bands on Easy Beat and they're still exciting to listen to. I think the band of those days, with Dave Jones, Ron Weatherburn, Vic Pitt, Paddy Lightfoot, Ron Bowden and of course John Bennett, was the best he ever led. I'm sorry Kenny Ball is no longer with us, but his exciting, inventive, clear uncluttered and accurate playing lives on. I doubt any band will ever again inject such enthusiasm, originality and flare into the music that attracted and inspired the huge audiences of young and old, as it did in the “Trad Boom”.  

Yes, it's true that I had a bath every Sunday so that I could listen in peace to Easybeat on my transistor radio.  Also, many years after, I actually booked Kenny to play with The Panama at our then regular residency The Eagle & Crown, in Upton, Wirral. I was so nervous I could hardly play; After the gig, Kenny said to me "Oi, mate, you wanna stick a cork up your a**e"!  I did and it's still there. Not the same cork, though!

Jon Critchley.


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