Tamworth Bands - History 1960-1990
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Ronnie Hancox Dance Band

Ronnie Hancox Dance BandRonnie Hancox - The Dance Band for Dancers 1940-1967

Picture courtesy: Mike Hancox

Visit: www.ronniehancox.co.uk

Ronnie first became involved with a band when he picked up the drumsticks and accompanied the pianist during a band break at his own roadhouse “The Happy Hour” in 1939. He was not a trained musician but he had an innate sense of rhythm and dance.

Following the outbreak of war he was conscripted to work at the Coventry Climax wartime factory as the canteen manager because he was an experienced restaurateur. The roadhouse musicians approached him and persuaded him to form and front a small band which Ronnie accepted reluctantly. He was an excellent ballroom dancer and a good businessman and soon developed the size and scope of the band. In his younger days he had won the Midland’s Charleston Championship after having seen it danced only once. He was a perfectionist with a flamboyant sense of presentation, rare in the austere post-war days.

The performing artists the “Water Rats” made him a member and he raised funds for their charity. The band played locally at Maney Hall in Sutton Coldfield and at the Walsall Town Hall but the more prestigious engagements were the Young Conservative Balls, Hunt Balls and Young Farmers Balls. His most coveted engagement was playing annually for the “Come Dancing” television programme.

The band members were originally semi-professionals who all held responsible day positions. All their cars were sprayed white forming a white convoy led by Ronnie’s chauffeur-driven white Jaguar, all arriving in style at the evening’s venue. Later the band had their own custom built coach, designed in a state of the art luxury. The band’s uniforms were tailor made in the blue and white band colours of the music desks. Ronnie always dressed in either black tie or white tie and tails evening dress. His London tailor made his stage evening trousers in such a flattering line that sitting down was impossible.

In winter they played at local functions and during the summer they played the season in Torquay, Weston Super-Mare or Eastbourne, etc. In 1945, his personal attendance fee was £20 a night. In 1945, a bank manager earned approx £20 a week.

Ronnie, always known as ”The Governor” was a strict disciplinarian who discouraged
alcohol, wives or girl friends at the functions. All the instruments and amplifiers were packed into custom built wheeled containers which were handled by trained technicians.

In 1953 he auditioned Susan Maughan and so began her singing career. Ronnie advised his vocalists and he changed her name from Marion to Susan. Frankie Vaughn was also employed briefly in his early days.

Ronnie died in 1967, aged 63 years.

Many thanks to Ronnie's daughter Jean Hancox McIntosh


Memories

Jean Hancox McIntosh:

Ronnie Hancox Dance Band for Dancers
I am Ronnie's daughter Jean, now living in the Outer Hebrides. I have many memories of my Father's band days which actually began in the late 1930s when he picked up the drumsticks during the music break and accompanied the pianist at his own roadhouse "The Happy Hour".

He was not a musician but a terrific dancer with an innate feeling for rhythm. Previously he had won the Midlands Charleston competition. He had seen it danced only once, chose a partner at random and won - such was the man. His prize was a large silver salver, which I treasure.

Roderick Stopps* recalls:

"I can remember him in 1963-64 when he played for farmers' dances at Buckingham and Northampton".

H. Walker recalls:

Ronnie Hancox also ran a restaurant in Sutton Coldfield called the Kardoma and the band also played regularly at Maney Hall.

Jean Hancox McIntosh recalls:

Actually the Kardomah wasn't Ronnies restaurant but he did have three others, The 400 not sure where, The Snackery in Sutton and Ronaldo's in Walsall where Billy Cotton's band used to go when in the area. I remember the vocalist Alan Breeze had a very bad stutter when he spoke but when he sang there was no trace of it.

Susan Maughan Link to an external website., famous for her single 'Bobby's Girl', had earlier spent three years as singer with the Ronnie Hancox band and then a further year with the great Ray Ellington Quartet. She went on to obtain singing parts in numerous movies including the British rock and roll film 'What a Crazy World' starring alongside Joe Brown and Marty Wilde.

Ronnie at the seaside
David Andrews recently researched and wrote an article on the Winter Gardens, Weston super Mare which appeared in the Weston Mercury. Here’s an extract which mentions Ronnie Hancox.

In the mid 1950s Young Dancers' Nights were introduced featuring dancing to live big bands.

These proved popular and were renamed Teen and Twenty Dances around about 1958. Again these featured dancing to a big band advertised as dancing to rock, cha-cha and even the charleston with the message 'no squares allowed'. These were held on Wednesdays from 7-10pm and, as the bar was separate, you didn't have to be 18 to get in.

But music was about to change and, on July 18, 1962, Ronnie Hancox and his band played with a special guest. Gene Vincent became the first rock and roll star to play in Weston. He sang Be Bop A Lula.

Many thanks to David Andrews


Gigs
22/11/61
Atherstone Hunt Farmers Ball
Ronnie Hancox and His Band

Co-operative Hall, Nuneaton

12/12/61
Tamworth Young Farmer’s Club Dance
Ronnie Hancox and His Band

Assembly Rooms
9.00pm-1.00am
Admission: 7/6

13/02/64
Nuneaton Young Farmers Club
13th Annual Lokel Yokel's Superstition Ball
Ronnie Hancox and His Band
Queens Road Ballroom, Nuneaton
Admission: 10/-

29/10/64
North Warwickshire Young Farmers Annual Ball
Ronnie Hancox and His Band
Queens Road Ballroom, Nuneaton
Admission: 7/6

27/01/65
Atherstone Farmers Hunt Ball
Ronnie Hancox Band
Nuneaton Co-op Ballroom, 9.00pm-1.00am
Admission: 15/-

11/03/65
Atherstone Young Farmers Club Fancy Dress Ball
Ronnie Hancox Band
Queen’s Road Ballroom
Admission: 10/-

If you have any further information about this band please email: info@tamworthbands.com


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