London native Lew Stone was an extremely popular bandleader, arranger, and pianist throughout the '30s. The self-taught musician also authored Harmony and Orchestration for the Modern Dance Band, a book that was the standard in its field against which all others were measured for several decades. In his late '20s, he spent a brief period playing piano for Bert Ralton, but this association ended when Ralton passed away while he was hunting in Africa. Stone farmed himself out as a freelance arranger for numerous bands for a period of four years, beginning in 1927. By 1931, Stone was working with Roy Fox in Piccadilly, enchanting audiences from the stage of the Monseigneur Restaurant. Stone stepped into the leader's position the following year, when Fox decided to move on.
As he formed his own outfit, Stone continued to utilize some of Fox's musicians, among them popular singer Al Bowlly, drummer Bill Harty, saxophone players Ernest Ritte and Joe Crossman, trombonists Lew Davis and Joe Ferrie, bassist Tiny Winters, and trumpeters Alfie Noakes and Nat Gonella. Stone's band, which played on the radio once a week, recorded a number of songs. These included "Call of the Freaks," "Tiger Rag," "White Jazz/Blue Jazz," and "Milenbourg Joys." Bowlly stayed with the band for two years, during which he was featured on "Isle of Capri," the bandleader's only hit on the other side of the Atlantic. He also sang on "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming," "Just Let Me Look at You," and "I'll Never Be the Same." Although Bowlly left Stone's band in 1934, he returned later in the decade for a short period. Stone went on to lead the Stonecrackers and the Novatones during the '40s. For a period of two years later that decade, he led the orchestra at the London Coliseum during the staging of Annie Get Your Gun. He and his band continued to play across England and Scotland during the '50s. By 1959 he was leading a sextet, which he continued to do through 1967. He also established the Lew Stone Entertainment Service at this time. During the course of his career, Stone served as musical director for more than three-dozen films and a number of theater productions. ~ Linda Seida