CD's and DVD's


Harry Davidson was born in Rolleston Road, South Croydon Surrey on the 16th July 1892.
He learned to play piano, violin, cello and organ early in life.  Having taken up music as his career, he played organ for several years until he realised an ambition shortly before the outbreak of the war when in 1914 he formed his first 15 piece light orchestra and played at the old Shaftesbury Pavilion
in London's Shaftesbury Avenue and also at London's fashionable Ciro's Club providing music for dancing.
After the war in 1919, Harry was appointed musical director at the Tyne Theatre, Newcastle where he had a 25 piece orchestra. In 1924 he moved to the Majestic Cinema at Leeds where he became deputy condustor and resident organist, it was from here he made his first broadcast.
In 1929 he was appointed resident organist at the newly built Commodore Theatre at Hammersmith, London. The Commodore had a very fine 18 piece orchestra directed by Joseph Muscant who by the early 1930's had established a pattern of regular Saturday afternoon broadcasts for the BBC and became one of the most popular orchestr's in the country. Harry Davidson's big chance came in July 1934 when Joseph Muscant left Hammersmith to take over the Troxy Broadcasting Orchestra and Harry was appointed conductor of the Commodore Grand Orchestra and went on to enjoy enormous success making regular weekly broadcasts.
The outbreak of the war in 1939 changed many things. The Commodore Grand Orchestra was disbanded but Harry managed to keep these superb musicians together, taking the orchestra on tour for concerts and summer seasons and by 1942 was again broadcasting regularly for the BBC on such programmes as Music While You Work (109 edition's in the first year of the programme) and Morning Music  but it was in November 1943 that his greatest success was to come.
The men in charge of light music at the BBC,  Fred Hartley and Douglas Lawrence needed a programme to "fill in" for a couple of weeks whilst Sandy MacPherson and one of the "staff" orchestra's were on holiday. Their idea for the programme needed someone with an unrivalled knowledge of light music and Harry Davidson was immediately co-opted to help with the formulation of such a programme.
Harry was not at all sure a programme such as Hartley and Lawrence proposed would be a success but having 'cajoled' most of the London music publishing houses into letting him sort through their long forgotten scores which were housed in their cellars and attics, he eventually acquired much of the music he was seeking for the programme.
On the night of 2nd November 1943 during an air raid from the old Methodist Mission Hall in Marylebone Road the very first edition of "Those Were The Days" was broadcast.  From this first broadcast Those Were The Days was an immediate success with radio audiences , with the result that a programme which had originally been scheduled for approximately six weeks continued to enjoy tremendous popularity for over thirty years. With MC's such as A.J.Latimer and Charles Crathorn and orchestral arrangements by such people as David Caryll, who was "house arranger" for Francis,Day & Hunter, the programme brought enormous success to Harry Davidson and for many years he toured the country playing for dances and dance festivals.  He also made mover 200 recordings for the 'Columbia' record labeland devoted almost all of these for Old Time Dancing.
For almost a quarter of a centry, Harry conducted nearly every performance of Those were the Days, a remarkable achievement by any standards. His pianist and deputy condustor was Sidney Davey who had been with Harry since his 'Commodore' days before the war. When Harry was forced to give up conducting due to ill health in November 1965, it was Sidney Davey who took over the baton and continued withy the Davidson Orchestra each Saturday evening until the final broadcast by this wonderful orchestra on Saturday 23rd April 1966. From then on Sidney Davey and his orchestra continued with the programme until 1975, which was a remarkable tribute to the original concept of the founders of the programme.
Those were the Days was to change the face of our social dance scene and set the standards for a whole generation of dancers. The programme encouraged people like F.J. Mainey with his newly formed International Sequence Dance Circle to standardise and teach the old time style throughout the world and firmly establish Old Time Dancing and Music,as a unique part of our culture and heritage. Harry Davidson was the father of Old Time Music, the long forgotten and neglected tunes of his youth were to become the very essence of old time as we know and love it today.
Harry Davidson died on 2nd February 1967 aged just 75, a great loss to the world of light music and to Old Time Dancing in particular. He was one of the most outstanding personalities in music of the 20th century. Sadly we shall not see his kind again, but his music will live on. So in reproducing these broadcasts you can once again listen to Old Time Music at itsm very best  played by the Master himself  Harry Davidson & His Orchestra