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Appleton, Joseph Edward [Joe] (1903/4–1991), saxophonist, clarinettist, and bandleader, was born Joseph Edward Appleton-Thomas in Porus, Jamaica, on 2 June 1903 or 1904, the only son and one of two children of Joseph Appleton-Thomas, a road maintenance official. His parents were Jamaican. In ...

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Bilk, Bernard Stanley [Acker] (1929–2014), clarinettist and bandleader, was born in Pensford, Somerset, on 28 January 1929, the son of William John Bilk (1876–1941), journeyman carpenter and cabinet maker, and part-time church organist, and his wife, Lilian Lydia Amanda, ...

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Blake, Cyril McDonald [called Midnight Blake] (1897–1951), jazz musician, was born on 22 October 1897 in Trinidad, the son of Samuel Blake, cabinet-maker. He served in the merchant navy in the First World War and went to Britain on discharge. In October 1921 he was a member for engagements in ...

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Beryl Audrey Bryden (1920–1998) by David Redfern, 1990 photograph David Redfern / Redferns

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Bryden, Beryl Audrey (1920–1998), jazz singer and washboard player, was born on 11 May 1920 at 17 Rowington Road, Norwich, Norfolk, the only child of Amos Wilfred Bertram Bryden, a commercial traveller, and his wife, Elsie Maud Tyler Reeves Jones. She was educated at ...

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Campbell, Ambrose (1919–2006), musician and bandleader, was born Oladipupo Adekoya Campbell in Lagos, Nigeria, on 19 August 1919, the third of four sons in the family of six children of James, G. M., or Adekoya Campbell, a minister in the West African Episcopal church...

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Cann, Rita Evelyn [performing name Rita Lawrence] (1911–2001), pianist and singer, was born on 24 January 1911 at Heathfield, Box Ridge Avenue, Beddington, Surrey, the elder daughter and eldest of three children of Albert Sam Cann (1871–1930×34), an import–export merchant, and his wife, ...

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Rita Evelyn Cann (1911–2001) by Val Wilmer, 1990 photograph © Val Wilmer

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Desmond Adolphus Dacres (1941–2006) by David Corio, 1985 Getty Images

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Dacres, Desmond Adolphus [known as Desmond Dekker] (1941–2006), singer and songwriter, was born on 16 July 1941 in St Andrew, on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica. Little is known about his childhood except that after his mother's early death his father, desiring a proper education for his son, sent him to live with relatives in the quiet country town of ...

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Maxine Daniels (1930–2003) by Peter Symes, 1987 © Peter Symes

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Daniels, Maxine [real name Gladys Daniels; née Gladys Lynch] (1930–2003), singer, was born at 3 Raine Street, Stepney, London, on 2 November 1930, the ninth of thirteen children of Oscar Lynch (1882/3–1970), a seaman who served in the merchant navy during the First World War and who was known after 1932 as ...

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Dickerson, Isaac Perry (1850/1852–1900), singer and preacher, was born into slavery in Wytheville, in south-west Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, probably in July 1850 or in 1852 (sources differ). His formal schooling started as a teenager, following emancipation in 1865, and in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he worked for a Jewish shopkeeper whose son taught him to read and write. In 1867 he enrolled at ...

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Gonella, Nathaniel Charles [Nat] (1908–1998), jazz trumpeter and singer, was born on 7 March 1908 at 15 Edward Square, Islington, London, the fourth of seven children of Richard Henry Gonella (1871–1915), cab driver, and his wife, Elizabeth Susan Finnes. His father, who was of partly Italian descent, drove one of the first motorized ...

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Hall [married name Hall-Hicks], Adelaide Louise Estelle (1901–1993), jazz and cabaret singer, was born on 20 October 1901 in Brooklyn, New York, the elder daughter of William Arthur Hall, a piano and singing teacher at the Pratt Institute, New York, of African-American and Dutch descent, and his wife, ...

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Adelaide Louise Estelle Hall (1901–1993) by Walery, c. 1930 Getty Images – Walery

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Herbert Jansch (1943–2011) by Keith Morris, 1985 © Estate of Keith Morris / Redferns / Getty Images

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Jansch, Herbert [Bert] (1943–2011), guitarist, singer, and composer, was born on 3 November 1943 at Stobhill Hospital, Springburn, Glasgow, the son of Herbert Jansch (1911–1970), a builder's labourer then serving as a private in the Royal Army Service Corps, and his wife, Margaret Henderson Robertson (Maggie), ...

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Korner, Alexis (1928–1984), blues singer and guitarist, was born in Paris on 19 April 1928. His father was a former Austrian cavalry officer, and his mother was Greek. He was brought up in France, Switzerland, and north Africa. The family left France in 1940 in one of the last ships to leave the country during the Second World War and settled in ...

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Melly, (Alan) George Heywood (1926–2007), writer and singer, was born on 17 August 1926 at The Grange, St Michael's Hamlet, Toxteth, Liverpool, the elder son and eldest of three children of Francis Heywood Melly (1900–1961), wool broker, and his wife, Edith Maud (Maudie), ...