Jazz time Scotland

The youngest member of the Two Red Shoes house-band Colin Henderson https://www.northern-scot.co.uk/Entertainment/Back-to-where-it-all-started-4414.htm https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/satch-mackenziecolin-henderson/ joined the band at 16 after this recording which included his father and uncle Billy and Bobby Henderson. He and Roger Niven https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/spiggy-topes-aberdeen-band/ were recently recorded together at Elgin Jazz Club https://soundcloud.com/morayjazzclub Roger also recorded with former band mate, Graham Walker, on this jazz EP http://circusfm.com/music/we-are-circus-fm

Two Red Shoes Album: https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/two-red-shoes-album-2/

Petal cars and jazz contest:

When the Silver Beetles accompanied singer, Johnny Gentle, in the small town of Forres,  jazz and swing was the style of popular tunes most listened and danced to in the north of Scotland. In 1959, the only beetles that were on the lips of Forres folk, was in relation to the “Beetle drive and social evening” as there were special prizes to be had for the best drawing of a Beetle, none of which resembled John, Paul, or George. Back then, promoter Albert Bonici  https://bonici.wordpress.com/ wouldn’t have guessed that his reputation would have highlighted by booking The Beatles in 1962 to tour Scotland when he built his “Beetle”. He dubbed the vehicle such as it “looked like a beetle” though not sure if he was eluding to the bug or the VW. The Beatles early incarnation as the “Silver Beetles” more likely would have been inspired from the “Crickets” with Buddy Holly…

It was a big year for music promoter Albert Bonici who was instrumental in organizing the 1959 Jazz Festival in Elgin’s Drill Hall. Seventeen bands  competed for the Silver Trophy as North-East Scotland’s Jazz band champion.  By then, Albert Bonici established the LCB Agency bring popular music and entertainment to the area. He was also running the family’s ice cream and concessions business besides working at the family owned Park Cafe. Another one of his varied interests was aerodynamics and used scrap metal to build petal bikes…

Albert Bonici and his "Beetle" circa 1959

Francis Drake who became part of Albert Bonici’s Two Red Shoes Ballroom in 1960, drove Bonici’s Beetle in competition during 1959 Elgin Gala days. Albert built vehicles that were road worthy to compete in the petal car competition that summer whilst working with the Elgin Gala Association to help sponsor events which also included the Elgin Jazz Festival and Gala Queen competition.

Cooper Park track 1959

Albert who graduated college with a degree in electrical engineering was fascination with airplanes and aerodynamics and the petal car competition was a good way to test his skills and knowledge. His brother-n-law Stanley Williamson told me that Albert piqued his interest in metals after having purchased old airplane parts. After the pedal car competition, Stanley who also built a car, went on to create a scrap metal business that is still successful. Albert became occupied with having his dance hall built and promoting music and various events including the Jazz Festival that continued into the 1960s. The Cooper Park track built in 1959, no longer exists.

Note: Albert Bonici who often read books and magazines on aerodynamics, famously caught an airplane to meet up with Brian Epstein in Liverpool to rebook the Beatles in ’63. In his early years, he was well-traveled, spoke several languages, taking boats from the UK to visit his family in Italy during the summer expeditions away from his studies in Scotland. After graduating college, he boarded a cruise ship to New York in 1948 where he visited family and likely enjoyed some of New York City’s jazz clubs, having been a keen jazz fan. By the 1950’s, Albert’s prefered mode of travel were airplanes and would venture out on small airplanes to do business with the family’s ice cream concessions that spanned the north of Scotland, including the islands.


One of Bonici's petal cars in downtown Aberdeen

One of Bonici’s petal cars in downtown Aberdeen

Though traditional and folk music had long been a hallmark of the Scots, Jazz was the popular music of the day and Albert Bonici was a fan. He and wife Betty would often travel south to attend dances featuring a live band in the 1950s and after successfully hosting Ray Ellington’s band in north-east Scotland, he got in the business of promoting music by the mid ’50s. Though using various local halls for his music venues, he also built a small stage in the family owned “Park Cafe” to present local musicians like Harry Robinson https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/harry-robinson-musiciancomposer/ and Alex. Sutherland https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/alex-sutherland-band/. In 1959, a year before opening his own dance hall, Two Red Shoes Ballroom, Albert worked in conjunction with the local council to help promote Elgin Gala festivities which included a mini car race [above] and a Jazz Festival. Below are clippings from Albert Bonici’s scrapbook of the Gala Events…



There was also crowning the Gala Queen. Albert would host beauty contests in the following years at his Two Red Shoes Ballroom.

There was also crowning the Gala Queen. Albert would host beauty contests in the following years at his Two Red Shoes Ballroom.

TRS bandleader Alex. Sutherland and vocalist Alyson Armstrong were featured on the Two Red Shoes Album produced in one day [Norco Records Ltd]

TRS bandleader Alex. Sutherland and vocalist Alyson Armstrong were featured on the Two Red Shoes Album produced in one day [Norco Records Ltd]

Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen were one of the popular jazz acts who Albert Bonici enjoyed.

Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen were one of the popular jazz acts who Albert Bonici enjoyed.

Through the 1960’s the Two Red Shoes “house-band” https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/two-red-shoes-album-2/ created jazz medleys of popular songs each week though “pop” music was moving from swing and traditional jazz to beat tunes which was said to be influenced by skiffle, folk, doo-wop, and American rock-n-roll.

Johnny Dankworth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4T9muPmFH0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nkq4-U0o_g

Ray Ellington Quartet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2YoUHpuiVQ

The Quarrymen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjfKX4yyX0k

Lonnie Donegan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtj0kfHQOUo

Metrotones http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0NZUb-pt40

Cliff Richard http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-3p84gWVNU





My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. With a fascination for the beat music era that took place throughout the UK, my research investigates the late '50s through early 1970s. Relying on interviews, the Albert Bonici archives, and other resources, I continue to gather materials to tell the story of a special time in music in the mid 20th century. Scottish promoter, Albert Bonici, brought many of the top beat music acts to Scotland which delighted music lovers during the early days of the beat music era. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and remembers the contributions of promoter, Albert Bonici, a man with a vision who, with the help of his family and staff, created a happening that is still fondly remembered by those who attended dances and concerts. Besides other local resources and interviews, SCOTBEAT presents exclusive photos, adverts, and documents from the A Bonici Archives [circa 1960s]. Unless otherwise agreed, materials are not to be used for financial gain and ask that you respect the terms below. Materials presented are not to be used for financial gain without consent. © 2014-2019 SCOTBEAT.wordpress.com. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be copied, redistributed, broadcast or published in any form without crediting this blog and/or copyright websites mentioned. All correspondence, flyers, programs, and photos from the Bonici Archives are not to appear in print other than through the propietor of SCOTBEAT. Use of the site signifies your agreement to all of these terms without condition. Please reference https://scotbeat.wordpress.com when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you. http://en.gravatar.com/scotbeat

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Posted in 1960's pop music

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