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USA Trip


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Perpetuating and promoting music and performers
Founded by Henry Holloway at "SWINGDOM"
(officially opened by U.S.A. Ambassador Bill Swing)
September 2009

Dear members and friends,
As many of you know, I was recently honoured in the USA to perform as Grand Marshall on the Grand Parade at the annual Glenn Miller Birthplace Society's Festival. For me it was a stupendous few weeks which I would very much like to share with you. What follows, below, is an article written by highly respected writer, Bob Eveleigh .... and thereafter I have expanded on the many marvellous tributes that were paid to me by so many of the wonderfully kind friends whom I have made in the U S A music world over the years ........ and which I accepted with my deepest appreciation and a good deal of humility.


By Bob Eveleigh:

Here's a South African showbiz story aimed particularly at more mature folk, and especially those with an interest in big band swing music.

This is the music as purveyed over the years by bands like England's Ted Heath and America's Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Les Brown, Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw, among others.

Plus, of course, the "daddy of them all", the great Glenn Miller, whose legacy continues years after his death in mysterious circumstances during the Second World War in 1944, with official "Glenn Miller Bands" still performing in various countries around the world.

But talk about big bands and radio in South Africa, and attention automatically turns to Henry Holloway, the acknowledged expert in this musical genre, whose countless programme series on this country's national and regional English radio services have saluted not only Miller and his orchestra but many other personalities in this sphere of popular music over a 40-year-plus span.

In 2003, Henry was honoured in a very special way when he was voted into the American Big Band Academy's Hall of Fame, becoming the first South African - and still the only - to be accorded this accolade, which, up to this day, had gone to 60-odd American personalities, including such names as Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington and Tex Beneke, and flew to Los Angeles to accept the award, In fact, Henry is one of just two non-Americans ever who have been thus honoured.

But in June this year, another signal honour occurred when the 70's something broadcaster was invited to visit America once more to participate in the 2009 Glenn Miller Birthplace Society's Annual Festival.

Again, a most amazing recognition of a South African, since among the activities during the event, which is held in Miller's honour in his home town, a small community named Clarinda, in the US state of Iowa every year in mid-June, were two special honours: Henry was invited to be a member of the prestigious Discussion Panel, along with other top Miller authorities like, this year, Dr Alan Cass, acknowledged as THE world authority on the person Glenn Miller; Ed Polic, considered THE world authority on the music of Glenn Miller; and Jan Eberle, the singing daughter of the late Ray Eberle, who sang in Glenn Miller's civilian band between 1938 and 1942.

So there was Holloway adding his more than ten cents worth to the discussion that day on-stage to a capacity attendance of Glenn Miller fans from around the world.

The next day came the second honour as Henry was driven down Clarinda's main street in an open horsedrawn vehicle as Grand Marshall at the head of the celebratory Miller Grand Parade - like the Panel Discussion, the first time a South African has been feted in this way. In fact, no non-American has ever before been chosen as their Grand Marshall.

Another highlight of this trip for Holloway was a dinner given in his honour in LA by Ginny Mancini, widow of the composer and bandleader, Henry Mancini, and which was attended by, among others, veteran singer and film star Tony Martin (now 96 years of age!) and Betty Rose, widow of another famous composer and conductor, David "Holiday for Strings" Rose. And megastar Julie Andrews and her film producer/ director husband, Blake Edwards, would have been there as well - but graciously apologized on the day of the dinner because Blake was unwell.

So it really was an exciting, one of a kind trip for Holloway, who now lives in Caledon with his second wife, also a radio personality, Marilyn Verster, who edited and presented the South African Broadcasting Corporation's Woman's World programme for 18 years. (Henry was previously wed to famed internationally-renowned singer, Eve Boswell).

Henry is still broadcasting on Fine Music Radio, which is also available on the internet at www.fmr.co.za every second Saturday at 17h00 South African time ( GMT+1 in the northern summer), so one wonders what other US honours are likely to come his way with his local fame continually appearing to go before him internationally.

Los Angeles June 6th.
The highlight of my stay in Southern California was the marvellous dinner-party which Ginny Mancini, wife of the legendary Henry Mancini, gave in MY honour at her beautiful penthouse on Wilshire Boulevard on June 6th. Apart from Ginny, Betty Rose and myself, 15 others, all famous in one or other music line, sat down at 8 pm for a sophisticated, sumptuous dinner, after an hour of cocktails. Look at just a few names:

Tony Martin, star of screen, radio and records (now 96 !!), Bea Wain, famous swing era band singer, who was voted "Best female band singer of 1938 in America", Terry Gibbs, probably the world's best living vibes player, Monica Mancini, lovely daughter of Ginny and Henry Mancini, who sings like an angel (do buy her CD's !), Patrick Williams, composer, arranger and conductor (he has worked with Frank Sinatra and other greats) who conducts (and sometimes arranges) Monica's albums nowadays.

Gregg Field, drummer for Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald, among others, who now produces Monica's albums (Gregg just happens to be Monica's husband !), "the other" Ray Charles, famous for his choir work (The Ray Charles Singers), Pat Longo, arguably America's most dynamic big band leader nowadays, David Bernhart, President of the Big Band Academy of America, Ellen Donaldson, who administers the catalogue of her father, the famous composer, Walter Donaldson, and John Tumpak, leading music journalist, who has just written a new book, which has a chapter on me in it !!!

The one big regret was that Julie Andrews and her husband, movie producer Blake Edwards, had to cancel at the last moment, because Blake(who is wheelchair-bound) was unwell. Julie faxed a lovely letter of apology to Ginny, who sent me a copy. Julie has since sent me an inscribed picture of herself.

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