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date: 11 August 2020

Cotton, Billy [William]locked

  • Alyn Shipton

Extract

[William]

(b London, May 6, 1899; d Wembley, March 25, 1969). English bandleader, drummer and entrepreneur. His father was a bandmaster and he was a chorister at St Margaret’s, Westminster, before joining the 2nd Battalion, City of London Regiment as a drummer boy. Cotton was later commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps. From 1922 he worked in dance bands in London and Brighton and co-led the San Prado Band at the 1924 Wembley British Empire Exhibition. He made his first broadcast the same year. He formed his own London Savannah band, playing first in Brighton and later in Southport (from 1925), and by acquiring music for US dances from liners docking in Liverpool, he helped introduce such music to Britain, including the Black Bottom. The band with which he played at the Astoria Hotel, London (1927), contained a nucleus of musicians (most notably the pianist Clem Bernard) who stayed with him for many of his subsequent performances, at Ciro’s club in London and Paris (...

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