Albert Alick Bowlly: Age 42 | Cause Of Death: BOMBING

Real Name: Albert Alick Bowlly 

(Born: Jan 7 , 1899 in Mozambique, Died: Apr 17, 1941 in London)

The most popular vocalist in Britain during the 1930s, Al Bowlly showcased a range of material unsurpassed by any contemporary other than Bing Crosby. He was also a true international recording artist: born in Mozambique to Greek and Lebanese parents, he was raised in Johannesburg, but gained his musical experience singing for a dance band led by Jimmy Liquime in India and Singapore during the mid-’20s. Just one year after his 1927 debut recording date in Berlin, Bowlly arrived in London for the first time, as part of Fred Elizalde’s orchestra. That year, “If I Had You” became one of the first popular songs by an English jazz band to become renowned in America as well, and Bowlly had gone out on his own by the dawn of the ’30s. During the next three years, he recorded over 500 songs and appeared with orchestras led by Ray Noble and Lew Stone. A visit to New York in 1934 with Noble resulted in more success; he appeared at the head of an orchestra hand-picked for him and Noble by Glenn Miller (the band included Claude Thornhill,  Charlie Spivak and Bud Freeman, among others). 

 During the mid-’30s, such songs as “Blue Moon,” “Easy to Love,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “My Melancholy Baby” were sizable American successes — so much so that Bowlly gained his own radio series on NBC and traveled to Hollywood to film The Big Broadcast of 1936, which also starred one of his biggest competitors, Bing Crosby. He was back in England that same year, appearing with his own band, the Radio City Rhythm Makers, as well as the orchestras of Sydney Lipton, Geraldo and Ken Johnson. Partnered with Jimmy Messini, Bowlly also branched out onto the London stage during the early ’40s with an act called Radio Stars with Two Guitars. It was his last venture before his death in 1941, the victim of a German bomb exploded outside his apartment. Fifty years after his death, a British musical named Melancholy Baby toured the country with much success. — John Bush, All Music Guide 

…Seriously, there used to be an old clothes shop here in the Portobello Road.  There was an old lady who served there. Sadly, I think she’d been rather the worse for drink etc., over the years, (at least, her looks suggested that, anyhow). Nevertheless, I was chatting with her one day, looking for vintage pairs of spats to buy.

In the course of the conversation she told me, wondering whether I’d ever heard of him, that she’d been married to Al Bowlly and said that the reason he was killed the way he was (he was found ‘uninjured’ in bed, killed by ‘blast’ from the WW2 bomb) was that he’d been too hungover or drunk to get out of bed when the air raid-siren went off…~ Earl.

“Someone once told me that the cause of death was fright and not injuries sustained as a result of the bomb blast – and that is what I originally noted here.  A visitor to the site, however, has provided me with evidence to the contrary.  Bowlly was asleep in bed when the bomb struck his apartment building.”

(by Richard Thompson)