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Ray Noble (12/17/1903 - 4/03/1978)

Band Leader, Pianist, Actor

Ray Noble was a popular English bandleader/pianist and the first to become a success in America. At age 21 he became the staff arranger for the BBC Dance Orchestra and the following year, music director for HMV Records. His successful recordings led to an invitation to appear with his vocalist, Al Bowlly, in 1934 at the Rainbow Room atop New York’s RCA building.

His American band at various times included such future stars as Glenn Miller, Claude Thornhill, Charlie Spivak, and Bud Freeman. He made several popular recordings in the U.S.: “Isle of Capri,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” and “Love Locked Out,” Noble’s composition with lyrics by Max Kester. “Linda,” with vocalist Buddy Clark, hit number one on the charts.

While in the States Noble went to Hollywood to appear in The Big Broadcast of 1936 and ended up playing a comedic Englishman in A Damsel in Distress. After disbanding the orchestra in 1937, he appeared in both musical and comedy roles on the radio shows of Burns & Allen and Edgar Bergen.

Noble composed his first song, “Goodnight Sweetheart” in 1931, followed by “Love Is the Sweetest Thing” (1934). Although his output was relatively small, “The Very Thought of You” (1934), “The Touch of Your Lips” (1936), “I Hadn’t Anyone Till You” (1938), and “Cherokee” (1938) became jazz standards.

-- Sandra Burlingame



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