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Dudley memories of seeing Louis Armstrong

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 31, 2014

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IN response to your big bands story such as Ted Heath and others that people may have seen.

I have seen Ted Heath on a number of occasions along with many other bands, such as Humphrey Littleton, Chris Barber, Harry Gold and his pieces of eight, Eric Delaney, Syd Phillips, Johnny Dankworth and his wife Cleo Lane, and many more at the Dudley Hippodrome on a Sunday night from 1954-57.

I was in the army in the Worcestershire Rgt at Bullford Camp, Salisbury Plain. While I was there Johnny Dankworth was appearing at a dance hall in Tidworth. There were some soldiers there from the Black Watch Regiment in their kilts. When one of them asked a young girl to dance, she said no and started to laugh at him in his kilt, so he gave her a slap and that started a fight between the Scots and the local lads.

My mates and I were trying to get out through a small door alongside Johnny Dankworth and his wife Cleo Lane, who was panicking. We got out and made our way back to camp.

About five weeks later I was home on a 48-hour pass, my mates had got tickets for the Sunday night at the Hippodrome, who to see – Johnny Dankworth? I told my mates about the fight. Before we went into the Hippodrome we went into Bellfields Cafe across the road for a coffee and who should be in there but Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Lane. He had his legs crossed and he had a hole in his shoe.

When I got back to camp I found that we were going to be posted to Germany. One day we were on a Naafi break when a lady from the WVS came to me and said: "Would anyone like to go and see Louis Armstrong at the Westfalenhalle Arena at Dortmund? I have 8 free tickets." Before she could move I snatched the tickets from her. They were for row D, four rows from the front. When we got to the transport shed the driver and his mate said they were coming with us even though they hadn't any tickets.

I said: "But I have only got 8 tickets."

"Then we will have to squeeze 10 into 8 because we're not sitting outside for 2 hours waiting for you lot to come out!" We found the seats and one by one we sat down pushing the arm rests down to make a bit more room. It's a good job the girl did not count the tickets or check them.

It was a fantastic night, and when Louis' trombone player Trummy Young played Stardust the hairs on my neck stood up. I will never forget it. I love your paper.

John Cox,

12 Kenilworth Court, Dudley.

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