Saturday, 12 December 2009


Mulligan Melly, Bags Watmough, Chris Hamilton JazzmenIn recent years, being a jazz fan in Rhyl can feel a bit like being the only gay in the village. This hasn’t always been the case. The first time I heard a live jazz band was in late 1950s in Rhyl as a schoolboy standing outside the Bee Hotel, Bodfor Street. It was Merseysippi Jazz Band and you can guess where they were from.

Weekly sessions at the Bee were promoted by licensee Roy Muller and estate agent Stan Elson. The musicians were usually semi-pros from North West England and North Wales. Bigger names tended to turn up at Queens Ballroom, West Parade; there were one-nighters by Alex Welsh, Sid Phillips and Freddie Randall, and three extended visits by world-class modernist Tubby Hayes (pictured above).

In 1958 the Silver Slipper Ballroom, a converted ex-Robins Cafe on the northeast side of Queen Street (now boarded up) tried its hand at being Mardi Gras Jazz Club for a summer season and the promoter was once again Stan Elson.

[The names in the Mardi Gras advert are noted here for indexing purposes: Mick Mulligan, George Melly, Bags Watmough, Chris Hamilton Jazzmen.]