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"A unique South African"
By Eric Kieswetter


Henry Holloway started his broadcasting career in 1974, and up to now (mid-2007) he has devised, researched, compiled, scripted, produced and presented literally thousands of music programmes on South African and overseas radio stations, notably the BBC. Henry's long-running series on Glenn Miller (21 half-hour programmes in 1974, 51 in 1984 and 115 in 2004/5/6) have all been acknowledged by international experts as world records in each instance at the time. His 60 programmes of one hour each on Les Brown in 2001/2 has also been acknowledged as such.

The American music fraternity, especially, has credited Henry in a most practical way by presenting to him, on March 2 2003, in Los Angeles, their “Golden Bandstand Award”, for devoting more than 30 years of his life in promoting (on radio and personal presentations) the only art form to emerge from America, jazz, and particularly the Big Bands, for which Henry has long been acknowledged as a world authority. Henry is not just the only South African to ever receive this prestigious award, he is one of just two non-Americans in history to be so honoured. As a matter of interest, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton are just five of the 50-odd persons who've been so acclaimed.

In 1999 Henry was also honoured in America . The National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences invited him to a special Guinness World Record event in Beverly Hills .Les Brown had just been nominated to that hallowed distinction for leading his Band of Renown for 60 years, and a special celebration was organised at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel . One thousand American music VIP's (and Henry Holloway) were present, and Steve Allen, the Master of Ceremonies, not only invited Henry to sit at his table, but paid tribute to Henry's broadcasts of American music at the very beginning of the evening's programme. A charming end to this story must be added: on that same day, September 28 th 1999 , Steve Allen had invited Henry to lunch, and then video-taped an interview.

Receiving the “Golden Bandstand Award” in America had tremendous spin-offs in South Africa for Henry. He received congratulatory letters from many people, including world-famous persons like Nobel Peace Laureate and the country's Ex-President, Mr F.W. de Klerk, another Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, legendary golfers Gary Player and Ernie Els, and jazz fan extraordinaire Cyril Ramaphosa, who just happens to be a billionaire businessman. From these letters photo sessions eventuated, as could be expected, gleefully pounced upon by newspapers.

Another direct spin-off from this award was a month-long lecture cruise in early 2004.The owners of the ultra-luxury liner, “Constellation”, offered Henry a contract to present audio-visual lectures on Glenn Miller, “The Other Big Bands” and “My Legendary Music Friends”, while the ship sailed across the Atlantic from Puerto Rico via the Scandinavian capitals and then up the Baltic to St. Petersburg, returning to Dover, England.

Henry's legendary music friends also came his way as a result of his radio broadcasts during their 30-year existence (at that time). People like Count Basie, Les Brown, Bob Crosby, Doris Day, Neal Hefti, Sammy Cahn, Teddy Wilson, Steve Allen, Terry Gibbs, Sammy Kaye, Dr. Paul Tanner, George Montgomery, Milt Bernhart, Ray Evans, Frank Chacksfield, Johnny Desmond, Buddy de Franco, Herb Ellis, Tex Beneke, Paula Kelly, Abe Most, Dodie O'Neill, Larry O'Brien, Hal Shaper, George T. Simon, Ralph Carmichael; these and others Henry can name “friends” or “very good acquaintances”.

Late in 2004 Henry received a second invitation to lecture for a month on a cruise liner, this one the "Saga Rose", from Southampton , England , across the Atlantic to the Caribbean , Mexico and South America , returning to the United Kingdom .

In 1984, during Henry's year-long radio series on Glenn Miller, Henry was interviewed on American television, because he was the catalyst in "solving" Glenn Miller's disappearance in December 1944. This is a long and fascinating story, and you must read Henry's autobiography for the details. Just to mention that a British researcher named Roy Nesbit has written a book titled "Missing, believed killed", published by Sutton in the UK in 2002, about it, and Henry features in this remarkable saga.

Three other television documentaries have been made about Henry, the first one on May 3 1996, and the other two just before and after he had been honoured with his "Golden Bandstand Award" (December 2002 and March 2003).

On the 24th of June 1992, the American Ambassador in South Africa at the time, Mr William Swing, officially opened Henry Holloway's music studio, "Swingdom". As swing (particulary in the Big Band idiom) is Henry's "bag", the names coincidence is truly remakable.

In late 1998 GSE Claremont Records produced a CD in honour of Henry reaching 25 years (at the time) in music broadcasting. Henry was asked to select the tracks (all Swing Era classics) and also to write the sleeve notes.

Henry's radio programmes were first broadcast on the "English Service" of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. The English Service later became known as Radio South Africa . Henry's first long-running series after his 1974 Glenn Miller series was "Back to the Big Bands", which ran for six years. It was broadcast just after the 7 pm news on Saturday evenings, and launched Henry into fame. Many other programmes and series were launched by Henry during those heady eighties, and two of these series were beamed abroad, mainly to America . One was titled "The Big Bands" and the other "Music in the sun". It meant that people in other countries could hear Henry and his expertise.

While Henry's 1974 radio series, "Miller Magic", was running its course, so many South Africans wrote complimentary letters and made telephone calls about it that Henry decided to form a "Glenn Miller Appreciation Society of South Africa", which he did in November 1974. People from as far away from Johannesburg (where Henry lived at the time) as Cape Town and Port Elizabeth flew in for the opening, which proved to be the start of a number of societies and clubs which Henry founded over the next 25 years, and most of these organisations exist to this day. For instance, in 1977 Henry founded "The Big Band Society of South Africa", because he soon realised that there were so many other great big bands in the world (apart from Miller) that needed to be perpetuated. Then Henry founded other societies like "The Audio Visual Society of South Africa" (in1988) and "The Jazz Society of South Africa" (in 1990). At this stage the Glenn Miller lawyers in America wrote to Henry and forbade him to use the name "Glenn Miller" (THAT is a LONG story !) so Henry formed "The Light Music Society of South Africa" and put all the above-named societies under its banner. He also founded "The Nostalgia Light Music Supper Club" in 1990, "The FMR Music and Dance Club" in 1995, "The Exclusive Club" in 1997 and "The Riverside Music Club" in 1999.

In 1983 Henry led a group of jazz/swing fans on a very successful extended tour of America .They visited many music "shrines" there, and a number of world-renowned people welcomed them: Tex Beneke, George T. Simon (who took them on a walking tour of New York City ), Dr. Paul Tanner (who drove them all over Southern California in a small bus), Billy May, Sammy Cahn, Sammy Kaye, George Montgomery and Larry O'Brien (the current leader of the official Glenn Miller Orchestra) to mention just a few.

In the late 1970's and early 1980's, Henry and his then wife, the famous singer Eve Boswell, went to the United Kingdom many times, and Henry was drawn into the top circle of performers in that part of the world. Dame Vera Lynn, Dame Cleo Laine, Lord Delfont, Sir John Mills, Cliff Richard, Morecambe and Wise; these are just a few of the many legends whom Henry got to know through Eve. Also American stars Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.

After nine years' marriage, Henry divorced Eve Boswell in 1985, and married Marilyn Verster in 1986. Marilyn was Radio South Africa's "Golden Girl" for 21 years, first as Editor/Presenter of "Woman's World", a daily actuality programme on which Marilyn interviewed many famous people, like Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Liberace and Sir Tim Rice (Andrew Lloyd-Webber's lyricist), and then as the programme's manager.

Many dozens of articles have been written about Henry in newspapers and magazines in South Africa , and about a dozen in American and British publications.

From 1965 up to the present day, Henry Holloway has organised, promoted and presented probably a hundred or so "live" concerts and dinner-dances in mainly Johannesburg and Cape Town , but also in large towns like Vereeniging, and smaller towns like Clanwilliam and Caledon . He has presented not only the very top musicians on stage, but has also given up-and-coming ones early opportunities.

Eric Kieswetter - July 2007(Mr Kieswetter was one of South Africa's leading arrangers, saxophonists, organists, accordionists and clarinettists for about 40 years from the late 1930's. He died on September 18 2007).


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