Kenny Ball’s son revives jazz band
- Credit: Archant
A note from the legendary Kenny Ball was all it took for his son to carry on his legacy.
The world-famous jazz musician, formerly of Emerson Park, passed away almost a year ago to the day.
But his band has been revived by his son Keith in the guise of Kenny Ball Junior and his Jazzmen.
The 53-year-old, who lives in Hornchurch, said it was something he had to do.
“My dad left me a letter asking me to carry on the band. I couldn’t say no,” Keith said.
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“We were so close. For the last 18 months of his life, we saw each other practically every day.
“He also told me face to face that he didn’t want the band to die so I didn’t really have much choice.
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Kenny died on March 7 last year aged 82 after a battle with pneumonia. He originally found fame in the 1960s when his song Midnight in Moscow became an international hit.
Kenny and the Jazzmen performed at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and toured the world, notably performing to thousands of people in Moscow in 1984 at venues such as Red Square.
A UK-wide tour starts in May at the Grand Theatre in Swansea.
Kenny says the band is a “continuation of my dad’s work rather than a tribute act.” “It’s all the same members,” he added. “It’s still the same powerful music.
“We’ve brought back hits from the 60s that my dad had stopped playing and there’s a lot of the newer stuff too.
“We’ve been a bit quiet because there’s been a change in management but now we’re ready and raring to go.”
Keith, who has been in showbusiness for three and a half decades himself, had been accompanying his dad on stage prior to his death.
He said: “I love fronting the band.
“I’d like to think I’ve picked up my dad’s musical ability. I mainly play the drums but I’ve also learnt to play the piano and trumpet over the year.”
The bands new manager Steve Hughes, is keen to do as many shows as possible - something Keith is not averse to - and there is the possibility of touring in Germany and Poland, places where they have always been well received.
Ball junior admits he was worried about the reception they would receive, but says it has been almost universally positive.
“It’s daunting stepping into his shows and I was worried about that at first. But everyone has been really supportive and the crowds have been excellent at all the shows we’ve done since dad passed away,” he said.
“I’ve even been told my voice sounds like him which is amazing. He’s such a legend.
“He was so talented, everyone loved my dad and he had such a great reputation which I need to carry on.”
A fly on the wall documentary on the band is being filmed which is due to be aired on Sky Arts later this year.
For more information on shows and dates visit www.kennyball.co.uk.