Ivy Benson

Ivy Benson was born in 1913, in Holbeck, a suburb of Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Ivy Benson was born in 1913

She was a really achieved musician on electric organ, piano, saxophone and clarinet, and led a renowned all girls band was a UK one-off lasting over 40 years and having in excess of 250 girls playing in it; it was a unique entertainment phenomenon. The interest in music came from her father, who played several instruments in the Leeds Symphony Orchestra and other smaller ensembles as diverse as theatre pit bands and a musical comedy group “The Ten Loonies”.

Under his careful tuition Ivy learnt to play the piano from the age of 5; by the time she was nine she was performing on the BBC’s “Children’s Hour”, and in local working men’s clubs below the name of “Baby Benson”. Her father had higher ambitions for his daughter, wanting her to turn out to be a concert pianist; however preferred the extra well-liked music and progressed towards the clarinet and alto saxophone.In her early teens she won a scholarship towards the Leeds College of Art, but then moved on to function within the Montague Burton tailoring factory, continuing to play at social and dance events in her spare time.Right after spending three years with Edna Croudson’s Rhythm Girls she toured with Teddy Joyce along with the Girlfriends, and in the late 1930’s moved to London where she soon formed her own small groups. In 1940 the nine piece “Ivy Benson and her Rhythm Girls” was formed for an all girl revue “Meet the Girls” starring the comedienne Hylda

Ivy Benson in ClactonThroughout the second world war she fronted a variety of different sized bands, from 12 to 23 piece, at times with a string section. She recruited the majority of her brass players using the aid of Harry Mortimer, a leading figure, a cornetist and conductor in brass band music in the UK. Numerous of the existing male band personnel had been then involved within the war leaving many opportunities for Ivy and her girls to turn out to be establish; she played leading ballrooms and theatres all over the country, a high point becoming a 22 week stint in the London Palladium with leading acts for instance comedian Max Miller and Jimmy James, and piano duo Rawicz and Landauer.In 1943 the band was appointed the BBC Resident Dance Band, which designed good anger and outrage amongst other leading male band leaders, notably Billy Ternent. Nevertheless, she had one terrific supporter in Joe Loss who stood by her all through her career.The war produced an additional difficulty for Ivy which became a main problem to her during the war years – the influx of American GI’s. Ivy was to lose lots of of her girls to romance and marriage, and on some occasions had been identified to lose a complete section overnight.

Ivy Benson And Her All Girl Orchestra

Comments: Ivy Benson formed her first band in 1939, but this clip I would think is from the 1940’s, as I have quite a lot of other recordings by the band from around this time, the British Bands to me always sound quite different from the American bands around this time….

More than 250 girls played with the band during it is 40 year life, some starting from the age of 15 years of age, with Ivy getting employer, musical trainer and, as 1 of the girls reported “the mother hen searching immediately after her young”. She was a strict but fair boss, but with such a large group of young girls to manage and take responsibility for, she would at times want to use the strict side of her nature, keeping the girls in line with her signature tune – “Lady be good”.In 1946 Ivy Benson and her Ladies Dance Orchestra were booked for the first post war broadcasts on BBC Tv, but was forced to withdraw soon after the Stoll Theater group, fearful of the repercussions of this All Girl phenomenon, threatened to cancel her contracts. Not to be out carried out, she began her initial tour of Europe, taking the girls to Berlin with ENSA, shortly after the Allied Forces had liberated the city. This was the commence of extensive tours of the American bases in Germany. 1 of the highspots was a concert with Josephine Baker in Bavaria and in 1960, Ivy was playing at the Lido, Hamburg, throughout the time the Beatles had been at the Indra Club, just across the road.

The band survived the radical adjustments which were to affect all substantial bands from the 1950’s; growing costs and alterations within the publics demand for modern day popular music altered the music industry for good. Ivy adapted her style, focusing on the nostalgic sounds of the war years. She began to do summer seasons, along with the Isle of Man proved to be one of her most popular locations, with as much as 6000 in her outdoor audiences in the Villa Marina Gardens.The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 brought on Ivy to alter the name of the band to Ivy Benson and her Showband. She had, on occasions, to field the odd application from male players, but would say they could have the job if they could get into a dress size 10-16!By this time the excellent days of live significant band music was gone. The range theatres had closed and dance hall had been now Discotheques.

Throughout its last years, the band played primarily at private functions; show woman to the last, the final gig was at London’s prestigious Savoy Hotel in 1982.Ivy continued with summer seasons for a even though but retired to Clacton-on-Sea, where she worked tirelessly for the charity “Age Concern”. She had confounded critics who said the girls could not sound as excellent as a man’s band, and outlasted most of them.

Ivy Benson passed away in May 1993.

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