Going back to the big band days

The CC All Stars.
The CC All Stars.
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The recent picture spread (Time Of Our Lives, July 18) certainly hit a note with one reader, who recognised the dance band featured in the page.

Charles Crookston, of South Shields, said the band was the CC All Stars, which was his dad’s dance band.

Marcelle Curry got in touch about this photo.

Marcelle Curry got in touch about this photo.

Mr Crookston said the band was extremely popular with dance-goers, performing throughout the area at venues such as the Armstrong Hall, the Kings Hall and the Civic Hall, in Jarrow.

“You can see my dad (who was also called Charles) on the far right of the photograph, playing the accordion,” said Mr Crookston.

And although he was a multi-instrumentalist, the band leader’s instrument of choice was the double bass.

“He played all sorts of instruments,” reveals Mr Crookston. “He was self-taught, with the double bass being his favourite instrument.”

Such was the popularity of dance/swing bands, that Mr Crookston senior had four or five bands performing at the same time.

A fitter by trade, the talented musician, played until he died in his 70s.

His son remembers a few of the other people who performed in his dad’s band. They were Bobby Alton on clarinet, Jimmy Reid on drums, and, he thinks, Bobby Simpson on piano.

He said the band also featured a female singer, whose name evades him.

Do you remember seeing the band performing or indeed, can you name any of the other musicians who used get people up and dancing? If you can, please get in touch.

Also what do you remember of the golden days of the big band/dance/swing bands and the venues they used to play at?

Not too sure as to how many of the top American dance bands played over here, but if you did see some of the big band “big hitters” then how about sharing those memories?

Meanwhile, the same picture spread generated an email from Gazette reader Marcelle Curry.

“She writes: “Hi Peter, I’m the lady in the photo, behind the counter. My name was Marcelle Oley and I worked in my dad’s shop, Norman Oley general dealers, in Talbot Road, near the general hospital in South Shields.

“The photo in question was in the millennium book 2000, and given to all the babies born that year.

“It was taken by my sister Yvonne in 1960. My name was Marcelle Wilson when it was taken.”

Another reader, Michael Jerry, got in touch, asking me if I could include a very specific photo in the page.

As Michael explains: “I was in the South Shields DLI Cadet Band. In the 1960s we played on the football pitch before one of their games. Have you any photos please?

“I was the little drummer boy who played by myself before the band walked on the pitch.”

So far, a search of the Gazette’s photographic archive has drawn a blank, but I’ll keep looking. In the meantime, if anyone has any pictures of the event, please get in touch.

Also, if you have any requests of your own, be it for pictures or story ideas, then please get in touch.

Coming soon: A circus family’s search for their Shields roots, and much more.