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The Oscar Rabin Band

This was one of the most successful dance bands of the 1950s. It had a star-studded lineup, three leading jazz soloists, three excellent vocalists and a brilliant arranger in the form of pianist Eric Jupp.

This particular Rabin band, from 1949 to around 1954 was no doubt the best one he ever had. The band was fronted by the elegant Harry Davis, while Oscar played the bass sax and kept an eye on the gate. It is rumoured that he changed his reed, every New Year's Eve, by borrowing a new one from the baritone player. It is also rumoured that Derrick Abbott, erstwhile first trumpet in the band, once celebrated his own particular New Year's Eve by stuffing Oscar's saxophone mouthpiece down the toilet.

Bobby Benstead was an elegant trumpet soloist, with a distinctive Harry James Rabin Brass Sectionstyle. Cecil Pressling, one of Britain's leading first alto players, led an excellent sax section, while Ken Wray, already a jazz name to be reckoned with, led the trombones.

Kenny Clare played drums in this band. He was under contract after leaving the Royal Air Force, something that held him back considerably when other bands began clamouring for his services. He went on to great things, of course, and married lovely Marjorie Daw, one of the band's vocalists, to accompany him on his way.

The other girl singer, Marion Davis, carved a career for herself in television and show business, marrying first tenor saxophonist Ronnie Keene and, later on, bass trombonist Kenny Clare - click to enlargeKen Goldie. Dennis Hale, the male vocalist, later on toured South Africa with Jack Parnell's band. He returned there to work as a solo artiste and met a tragic death in an automobile accident.

Harry Davis retired to California to be near his daughter, the singer Beryl Davis, who later on lost her house in the Los Angeles earthquake. Harry became a successful car salesman for the Cadillac car company and died peacefully a few years ago.

The Rabin band, like most big bands at the time, had an ever-changing personnel. The band of 1951 contained: Bobby Benstead, Bernie Sharpe, Murray Campbell, trumpets; Tommy Cook, Charlie Messenger, Bill Geldard, Bernard Ebbinghouse, trombones; Cecil Pressling, Johnny Hughes, Pete Warner, Vince Bovill, Roy Bull, saxes; Kenny Clare, drums; Frank O'Donnell, bass; Arthur Greenslade, piano; Dennis Hale, Marion Williams, Marjorie Daw, later on Pattie Forbes, vocals; David Ede, leader.

Oscar Rabin band with Joe Temperley - click to enlarge

The picture on the left shows the line-up of 1956.


The top picture, taken on tour shows, from left to right:

Back Row: The bus driver, Kenny Clare, Danny Moss, Bobby Benstead, Eddie Morris, Ken O'Donnell, Ronnie Heasman (with puffed cheeks), David Ede, Tommy Cook, Ron Simmonds;

Middle Row: Cecil Pressling, Marjorie Daw, Marion Davis, Dennis Hale, Eric Jupp, Oscar Rabin, Harry Davis;

Front Row, kneeling: Ken Wray, Roy Bull, Jack Waters.

Band lineup:

Marion DavisBobby Benstead, Ronnie Heasman, Ron Simmonds, trumpets;
Ken Wray, Tommy Cook, Jack Waters, trombones;
Cecil Pressling, David Ede, Danny Moss, Eddie Morris, Roy Bull, saxes;
Eric Jupp, piano; Ken O'Donnell, bass; Kenny Clare, drums:
Marjorie Daw, Marion Davis, Dennis Hale, vocals;
Oscar Rabin, leader, bass sax; Harry Davis, leader and compere.

The photo of the brass section:

Left to right: Ronnie Heasman, Bobby Benstead, Ken Wray, Jack Waters, Ron Simmonds.

Bottom photo, right, Marion Davis

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