Glenn Miller celebration in Worthing

Ray McVay
Ray McVay

The Glenn Miller Orchestra, led by Ray McVay and featuring the Swing Time Jivers and the Polka Dot Dolls, will be keeping the great Glenn Miller sound alive.

They will be appearing at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing on Sunday, August 19 at 3pm.

Back in the late 30s-early 40s, Glenn Miller and his Orchestra packed the dance halls in the States. The band enjoyed a string of hits including In the Mood and Tuxedo Junction as well as Moonlight Serenade, Chattanooga Choo Choo, American Patrol and many other songs and melodies that have stood the test of time.

World War Two brought the Miller magic to the UK. In 1944, the band’s musical style and showmanship immediately endeared them to British audiences. They played 80-odd concerts around the country and performed around 40 radio broadcasts between July and December of that year.

On December 15 1944, Glenn boarded a single engine C-64 Norseman aircraft to travel to Paris where he was to make arrangements for a Christmas broadcast. Tragically, the plane never reached France and was never found.

Ray recalls: “I was probably about 12 when I first heard Glenn Miller. My dad was a big Glenn Miller fan. He was a musician and I used to go every Saturday afternoon to the record shop. We would see what they had in, and we would always pick out the Glenn Miller stuff. My dad would buy the old 78s. I just picked up from there. When I heard things like In The Mood, well… they just stay with you. I just thought it was fantastic.”

Ray admits he can’t put his finger on just what it was exactly that made Glenn Miller so special, in fact unique: “But I loved the way he varied some of the music. He would be playing jive for the jivers and then you would have the serenades for the older people that liked to slow-dance to them. He just got it right when he was setting out his programmes.

“I had to go to New York when I wanted to get the OK for my own Glenn Miller band. I rang them up and said what I wanted to do, and they said they would ring me back. They did and they said to come over and talk about it. That was 88-89.

“They were great. They were pleased to meet me and get to know a little bit of my pedigree. I was doing all the Come Dancing at the time, and I was picking up awards for being the most popular band for dancing. I said that if I was going to do it, I wanted the permission to do Glenn Miller’s versions. I wanted the original arrangements, and that was part of the agreement.”

And so the band was born – and they are keeping very busy.

Now celebrating its 30th year, the orchestra has built itself into something of an institution as it tours the top provincial venues in the country as well as satisfying a demand for Miller’s music in Europe, Asia and South America.

Tickets on 01903 206206 and online at worthingtheatres.co.uk.

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