Bertie King

Ben Bowers & Bertie King’s Royal Jamaicans

Bertie King  was born in Panama, and raised in Kingston, where he attended Alpha Boys School; there he was taught by Sister Mary Ignatius Davies, a woman who nurtured the talents of other Jamaican musicians of the time.

During the 1930s he led his own band, Bertie King and his Rhythm Aces, described at the time as “Jamaica’s Foremost Dance Orchestra”. In 1936 he left for England, sailing on the same ship as his friend Jiver Hutchinson. In London he joined Ken Snakehips Johnson‘s West Indian Dance Band, and later played with Leslie Hutchinson’s band. He also worked with visiting American musicians including Benny Carter, George Shearing and Coleman Hawkins. In 1937 he recorded four sides in the Netherlands with Benny Carter, and in 1938 he recorded with Django Reinhardt in Paris. In 1939 he joined the Royal Navy. He left the Navy in 1943 and formed his own band, also working and recording with Nat Gonella.

King returned to Jamaica in 1951, where he started his own band, known as the Casa Blanca Orchestra, playing in the mento style. Since there were no Jamaican record labels at this time, he arranged for his recordings to be pressed in a plant in Lewisham, England, owned by Decca Records.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *