Janet Morris remembers . . . . . . .
THE FRANK CHACKSFIELD BAND in the 1930's
Local musicians include: Drummer- Bill Nash, Clarinetist- Les Englefield
Bass- Frank Glazier and our Frank standing at the microphone.
The above photo was taken at Hilden Manor, near Tonbridge, Kent, hence the logo "HM" on the music stands. It was a regular gig for some years along with other Kent and Sussex venues. It would be interesting to find out who the un-named members of the band are.
"This is how I personally remember our Frank"
One of Frank's first publicity shots,
taken by Les Englefield, at Frank's home in Battle where he lived with his mother.
Note: Janet remembers
going to Frank's home with her Dad and
listening to Frank play this very
piano, even at such an early age
she appreciated his brilliance,
and fabulous jazz.
Thanks to the magic of the Internet and an electronic meeting with a lady in Canada, I am able to show you a few pictures from her Family Album. She was born, and grew up in Battle in the 30's,
Janet Englefield, that was her name,married the late Gerry Morris and lives in Vancouver with daughter Gillian.
During a visit to Battle, Janet told my dad the fascinating story of how her father Les, a photographer, used to play in The Frank Chacksfield Band, and took photos at Frank's Wedding when he married Jeanne in 1947.
Charlie Chester, Arthur Haynes and the rest of the "Stand Easy" gang were there, and they embarrassed ten year old Janet by their 'clowning around'. They 'abducted' Jeanne,the blushing Bride while Arthur Haynes took her place, and then young Janet was made to hold his shirt-tail as if it were a 'veil'
BAND REUNION PARTY at FRANK'S HOME 1970
The Frank Chacksfield Orchestra
The son of a motorcycle engineer's assistant, Francis Charles Chacksfield was born at Battle, Sussex, on May 9, 1914. Frank showed an early talent for music and at the age of seven he was educated in piano, giving his first solo performance at the age of 14. "I was rather fearful that my life would be spent as a soloist, but about the age of 22, I was given the opportunity to lead a full orchestra. I then realized much more was in store for me."
That opportunity came after Frank joined the Royal Signals at the beginning of World War II. Just as he was assigned a post overseas he became ill. While he was recovering he was allowed to make a BBC broadcast. The broadcast led to his being posted to the Army's entertainment section at Salisbury. Over the next few years he had regular radio programs, many heard overseas. During his time he met a fellow musician, Charlie Chester. After the war the two co-lead a host of radio and studio bands before landing a record contract.
At the time of his Wedding Frank was the musical arranger for Charlie Chester's radio program. Charlie was Best Man at the Wedding.
Frank Chacksfield is best known for the group he formed in 1953, called the Tunesmiths. The orchestra signed a deal with Parlophone Records the same year. After a string of hits, including "Red Monkey," he assembled a larger band, adding strings. Chester and Chacksfield also became noted arrangers during this time for their bands and other popular bands. With the new band came a new sound, "Some people called it a lavish, sweeping style of violins, patterned after Mantovani. To tell you the truth, I am not quite sure how the sound developed, I am only glad it had!" Frank went on to say that, "We recorded "Limelight" and "Ebb Tide" and had no idea that years later they would still be requested on both sides of the Atlantic."
During the 1950's his orchestra continued to have success with movie themes and ballads such as "On the Beach," "Flirtation Waltz" and "Memories of You." The advent of Rock and Roll meant that Frank would never again enjoy such popularity with single recordings. However, he found a new medium, "mood records" (long playing records dedicated to soothing sounds and romantic themes). His "easy-listening" style helped established the era of mood music that won devoted fans the world over.
Record after record sold millions upon millions of copies, "We recorded more than we even thought we would, and people enjoyed what we were doing." Indeed the audiences did love his recording, albums such as "In Old Lisbon", "Donkey Cart" and those devoted to the works of particular composers (Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and even the Beatles) achieved Gold Records.
In the spring of 1993, Frank told me, "There has not been a day (since 1953) when I did not have a band. I am not sure I would know what to do without one." He broke most every engagement record in England, touring and recording until the 1990's. When Frank passed away, having suffered for some time with Parkinson's disease, as did Janet's Dad, he was survived by his beautiful wife, Jeanne, whom he married in 1947.
"If you remember nothing else that I have told you, do remember this: I had a fascinating life !"
Above notes from Mr. Dan Del Fiorentin
Footnote: Janet tells me that Frank wrote a song called "Primrose Hill" believed to be named after the place where Frank and Jeanne lived in the early years of their marriage. She still remembers the tune and some of the words. It would be interesting to know if there is a record, CD or even sheet music still in existence.
Frank Chacksfield & Les Englefield
Frank's Wedding in 1947