Jeff Rowena – Jazz Guitarist
Jeff Rowena passed away 02 November 1992. Jeff was born in Oldham in 1923 to Rhoda Smith and Stanley Thompson and had two half brothers: Sydney and David. Jeff was married to Betty and had one daughter Rosita. Jeff passed away in 1992 of Emphysema caused by smoking and club atmospheres. Jeff’s stepfather was Maurice Smart who was mentioned in Ian Fleming’s “The Spy Who Loved Me” Rowena’s nephew is the Musical Director of The Empress Orchestra. In 1986, Vanity Fare rep resented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Dreamer” featuring (ex Jeff Rowena vocalist) Jimmy Cassidy. Eve Graham later went on to sing with the New Seekers. Rowena (female anglo saxon name) – wasn’t Jeff’s real surname (his mother’s was Smith and from the birth certificate his father is named Thompson).
1960-1964 Jeff Rowena Five appeared at the Tottenham Mayfair/Royal Dance Hall
Tony Bushell – drummer for the Jeff Rowena 5 – became a stockbroker. Gordon Mailer – pianist with the Jeff Rowena 5 – left to form his own ‘Gordon Mailer Trio’ with Bobby Smith and Pat Osborne.
Georgie Fame used to perform at Tottenham Court Royal in the early 60’s. There was a revolving band stand and on the other side was the Jeff Rowena 7 who were the favourites at the time.
Resident at the Royal. namely Jeff Rowena Five. I think they were there around 1960 through 1964. and their bass player George Boarg
Jeff Rowena Five and Johnny Howard Band
Jeff was my half uncle and I have started up a Facebook page for Jeff and fans of the band (Jeff Rowena). There are links to some of the discography that you mention and some photos of the band (etc) on his page. I’m attaching a photo of the Jeff Rowena Quartet which you might like to use. I was always told Jeff preferred playing Jazz to Pop but don’t know much about that period. Most of the material on Jeff’s band relates to the later incarnations of the band so it would be good to hear from anyone who knows more about his earlier work. Best regards Martin
|Jeff Rowena Group: UK instrumentalists|
|Pye 7N15328||1961||Peanut Vendor/ Bullfight|
|Pye 7N15365||1961||Ambush/ John Peel|
|Pye 7N15423||1962||La Cucuracha/ Ten Ton Caroline|
|Oriole CB1787||1963||Dance Baby Dance/ Diddle De Dum|
|Oriole CB1797||1963||Dance Baby Dance/ Love Me Once Again|
|Oriole CB1810||1963||Diddle De Dum/ Lovely Water Melon|
|CBS 202460||1967||Eleanor/ Short Skirts|
I remember Jeff and Jimmy in the early 1960’s at The Empire Leicester Square. I used to work in the West End at the time and myself and a friend used to go in the afternoons when they used to have what I think would have been called “Tea Dancing”. Jeff shared the revolving stage with Ken Macintosh and his band.
I met Jeff quite a few times and Jimmy, both lovely guys. Jeff and I used to talk guitars. Jeff went back to Ilford, then the Empire London then Swansea Jimmy Cassady died last year. Allen Taylor lead guitar in the jeff Rowena band for 7 years.