The Kitkat Rascals Saxophone Band

Here is something special that a member of the Bass Sax Co-op discovered a few weeks ago. This marching saxophone band from 1930s England were called the Kitkat Rascals.

The description of the band’s medley goes like this:

Marching saxophone band play “a medley of well-known numbers”. They band march about set in a light-hearted manner. All the musicians are obviously white but wear ‘black-face’ makeup. They all wear bell boy style uniforms.

Modern viewers may find black-face make up racist.

From British Pathe

Kitkat Rascals Bass Player

    Source: britishpathe.com

The KITKAT RASCALS (issue title – GOING PLACES) 1937 video is hosted on the British Pathe website. The audio quality of the video is amazing. It has obviously been remastered. 

Another member of the Bass Sax Co-op knew of the group, and was able to provide the following biography of the Kitkat Rascals:

To those with an interest,

This is what I know regarding the Kit Kat Saxophone Rascals.

The Six Brown Brothers left Australia after a Tivoli tour March 12 1925, Tivoli management tried to get them back in September 1926 but asking price was 300 pounds a week and not financially viable for Tivoli.

So,

Tom Katz and His Saxophone Band were formed in 1927 by the leader of the Sydney Tivoli Orchestra and saxophonist Sam Babicci, but where the Brown Brothers only had Tom Brown appearing in black face the Tom Katz band all used blackface in their act, at least for the first few years of it’s life.

Sam Babicci lead the band on alto, Harry O’Brien on 2nd alto, Bill Saddler and Ted Case on tenor, Sonny Greatz on baritone and Jock Thompson on bass. (I once owned Jock’s 1927 Buescher bass)

Babicci left the group and took the rights to the name, the others reformed under the name Sid Sammons Saxophone Six, but later reverted to the former name, Tom Katz and His Saxophone Band. The personnel was now, Ted Case soprano and leader, Eric Frew alto, Jim Hearne and Frank Lundy tenor, Sonny Greatz baritone and Jock Thompson bass.

In 1934 the group left for England and started broadcasting over the BBC and in the next couple of years they were to appear at over 84 theatres. Tours on the European continent were also undertaken.

In 1936 the band broke up, with Thompson and Case forming the Tom Katz Saxophone Six with four English musicians. The other four, Frew, Hearne, Lundy and Greatz went on to form their own band;

The Kit Kat Saxophone Rascals

When World War II broke out, Frew, Lundy and Hearne all enlisted in the RAF in 1940.

I am always amazed at the wealth of knowledge the members of Bass Sax Co-op have. The depth and breadth of their experience is astounding.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

© 2009, Helen. All rights reserved.

Helen

Helen Kahlke is a professional horn player and sax teacher who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She plays soprano, alto, C melody, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones.

5 Comments:

  1. Hi Helen , it’s with sadness that i have report that my father Archie Taylor ( and Julia’s too ) has recently died . He Joined the Tom Katz six in 1937 when he was 14 – his father , Archie snr. was the tenor player with the act and took over as leader when Ted Case had a heart attack. Jock Thompson continued on Bass and also managed the act until they disbanded in the early 50’s. Whilst clearing out my dad’s effects we found a tape of the Tom Katz which we had no idea existed – I’m getting it remastered soon and I’d be happy for you to hear it . The attached picture has my father far left and grandfather 3rd from the left .

    • Hello Martin.

      I am very sorry for your loss of your dad.

      It would seem that your father’s life is an example of what we as musicians strive for: A lifetime full of music. But also a life complete with family to share the memories with, and who can continue to tell the stories that we have told through our musical journeys.

      I would be very honoured to hear the recording once it has been remastered. You can email me directly at: bassic.sax.info@gmail.com

      Warm regards,

      Helen

  2. Hi,
    My mother, no longer with us, was a dancer and toured with/alongside the Tom Katz Saxophone Six at one point – she was in an “all girls” dance troupe but I would need to look up the name I’m afraid. We have two or three photos in the loft – but the Tom Katz photo is a “publicity” photo rather than a personal photo unfortunately so your dad will have a copy no doubt! My mother was then called Frances Stratten (Frank/Frankie) – I think it was a really happy time for her – even though her father disapproved – she clearly liked the Tom Katz Saxophone Six “boys” and always had a smile when remembering those times. She would be 92 if she was still with us, so older than your father. He must have been playing as a very young man. Great to know he is still playing, please send my best wishes.
    Liz

  3. Hi,
    My Dad and Grandfather were members of the Tom Katz Saxophone Six, although my Grandfather is no longer with us, my Dad is still hail and hearty at 86 and is still playing the sax he had then!We have some old photos of them.I remember meeting Ted Case and his wife Bella when I was very little.
    Regards
    Julia

    • Hello Julia. Welcome to my site!

      I’m very glad that you dropped in and said hello, and shared your story. It’s wonderful to hear that you dad is still playing at the age of 86.

      Is your dad mentioned in the story mentioned above? What is his name? Being a vintage saxophone player, I love to hear stories of those old horns still being with their original owners. Please say “hello” to your father from me, and send him my warm regards.

      Thanks again for the visit….helen

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