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Al Bowlly

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Maputo, Mozambique (1899 – 1941)

‘Al’ Bowlly was a popular singer in the United Kingdom during the 1930s, making more than 1,000 recordings between 1927 and 1941. His song “My Woman” was resurrected as a chart-topper in 1997 as Your Woman.
Bowlly was born in Maputo, Mozambique, 1899, to Greek and Lebanese parents who met en route to Australia and moved to South Africa. He was brought up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and killed by the explosion of a parachute mine outside his apartment in London, England during the Blitz.

Bowlly showcased a range of material unsurpassed by any contemporary other than perhaps Bing Crosby. He was also a true international recording artist. After a series of odd jobs across Europe in his youth, he gained his musical experience singing for a dance band led by Jimmy Liquime on a tour of India and Singapore during the mid-1920s. However, he fell out with Liquime and was fired whilst the band was still in India. Bowlly had to work his passage back home, through busking. Just one year after his 1927 debut recording date in Berlin, Bowlly arrived in London for the first time as part of Fred Elizalde’s orchestra. That year, “If I Had You” became one of the first popular songs by an English jazz band to become well known in America as well, and Bowlly had gone out on his own by the beginning of the 1930s. First, however, the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 resulted in Bowlly being made redundant and returning to several months of busking to survive.

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