Dance Band Encyclopaedia


Val Howarth

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Bandleader and Violinist
Born:  1902,  Bury (near Manchester), England.
Died:   1979
Full Name: Valentine Buxton Howarth

Val Howarth made his name directing bands on cruise liners such as the Mauritania, the Homeric and the Lancastria from the 1920s onwards. He was a classically trained violinist who, at some point in his career, played in the Halle Orchestra and is understood to have been a child prodigy.

The accompanying photograph, taken from the Melody Maker for May 1928 shows Val and his "Lancastrians" on board the RMS Lancastria (described as a new "Cunard" liner).
The musicians are named as:
Val Howarth (leader, saxophones & violin); Les Hayes (clarinet, saxophones & violin); Billy Brown (piano, banjo & arranger); Ernie Price (piano); Frank Hopper (violin); Ron Freeley (banjo & 'cello); Stan Kendall (drums & 'cello); Eric Stead (trombone & string bass).
Although the number of musicians match the number in the photo, it is nigh impossible to determine who is who because of the variance of instruments.
I would be very grateful if anyone can let me know which musician is which. Val Howarth himself is in the back row in the centre, holding a tenor saxophone.

In 1933, Val and his current band were playing on the RMS Homeric and at the same time recorded four titles for Columbia. These are listed below.  

To download & hear these, right-click on the titles and choose "save target as". Once downloaded  to your computer, you can play them.

Val Howarth's Lancastrians.jpg (90020 bytes)

ColumbiaCB635.jpg (76255 bytes)

R.M.S. "Homeric" Dance Band (leader Val B. Howarth). Val Howarth -as-vn dir: unknown t /tb /as-vn /ts-vn /p /g /sb /d /Sam Browne -v.                                                                                         Southampton, June 2, 1933

   WA-13620-4    Talking To You About Me - vSB                                           Columbia CB-634
    WA-13621-3    I Wish I Had Wings - vSB                                                      Columbia CB-635
    WA-13695-1    My Love Song - vSB                                                              Columbia CB-634
    WA-13696-1    Have You Had A Good Day Today? (6/8) - vSB & ch        Columbia CB-635

My thanks  to Val's granddaughter, Heather King, for providing details and identifying  Val on the photo.