Roy Plummer ~ 1919 -1983
Guitarist & 50’s Session Musician
Roy Plummer (Right) – playing on the left is Terry Usher Tutor to ‘Jack’ Duarte, later John W Duarte. Who could be the 3rd Guitarist – Curly Clayton? or Jack?
This was taken in the late 40s or very early 50s. Roy was born 18 July 1919
Annie Ross (vcl), Bob Burns (cl), Tony Crombie (p), Roy Plummer (g), Lennie Bush (b). Recorded in London, on August 24 & 28, 1956.
The Pioneer Corps Dance Band was stationed in Bradford, with Nat Gonella on trumpet. We followed them all over the City. It was a bit comic because the Band was conducted in full Military Style by the Band Sergeant Major, a strict disciplinarian who allowed improvisations only very occasionally, in ‘suitable’ numbers. Being a Military Man, he worked regulation hours and when his Duty was finished he’d pack up & go. Whereupon the Band would let rip. The Guitarist was Roy Plummer, who taught Guitar for 2/6d a lesson. He is now forgotten although in fact he had the 1st Band on Radio Rhythm Club – for 4 weeks, after which Harry Parry took over. For me, his eternal claim to fame is that he had played with Django Reinhardt.
Roy Plummer was a good friend of my late father who played Bass for him in the 50s in lots of Bands, but Dad never took the step of going Professional, having 4 kids to support. In fact, we always called Roy, “Uncle Roy”, and used to stay at his house in Chislehurst, Kent, but then lost touch after he emigrated to Australia with his 2nd wife & new family. However, my parents kept in touch with Roy’s 1st wife. I remember going to see her with them when I was about 15, and she put on a Jazz Guitar record, (Joe Pass, For Django by the way), which I loved on 1st hearing, and as an aspiring player that I was turned towards playing that style, along with raiding my Dad’s collection, and even buying a few records of my own! Later on I was thinking of going to live in Australia, and was determined that if I did I would track down Roy, who Dad said was the best player in Britain, but I never made it there, so didn’t realise that little plan of mine. I notice that in the poll featured Roy got many more votes than Bert Weedon– well there’s a thing!!! My older brother is still in touch with Roy’s son Max Plummer and even went to see him recently. I once briefly got my hands on a record by Kenny Graham’s Afro-Cubists with Roy on Guitar, so actually got to hear him. Very post-bop, cool sort of style- quite unusual for a British Guitarist in the 50s I should think. Some of the other Guitarists on your web site who I saw were Dave Goldberg, who did very occasional Jazz Gigs in London in between his Session work. I saw him with Phil Seaman just before he died – he was great. Judd Proctor was a great be-bopper as well. Oddly enough I know of Tony Marshall, because he lives in Brittany, where I spend several months a year, and saw him play at a Jazz Festival there backing a singer, whose name escapes me. I didn’t get to speak to him, but may come across him again, as I go to the Festival every year, usually with my Guitar to join in the Jam Sessions they have. Nick Powell
Curly Clayton was an ‘old school’ Session Guitarist who owned a small 3-track Studio in Highbury. He produced some early demo Tracks by the Rolling Stones –
Curly Clayton Sound Studios, Highbury, London, England
– Soon Forgotten (James Oden) -unverified
– Close Together (Jimmy Reed) -unverified
– You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover (Willie Dixon)
We went to see a Record producer called Curly Clayton. he had a Studio in Highbury London, and was a great rival of Joe Meek – who also had a Studio just up the road.
BMG – Magazine – Back Issue – 1949 – 09 Curly Clayton
Tracks 08, 09, 12 and 13
Ralph Sharon Sextet – 6th June 1952 (Melodisc)
Jimmy Skidmore (ts), Alan Graham (vibes), Ralph Sharon (p), Roy Plummer (g), Joe Mudele (b), Harvey Bard (d).
Jo Hunter – trumpet
Kenny Graham – tenor
Joe Temperley – tenor
Eddie Mordue – tenor, clarinet
Norman Fantham – tenor
Don Honeywill – baritone
Dill Jones – piano
Roy Plummer – guitar
Sammy Stokes – bass
Phil Seamen – drums
Donaldo – bongoes
Judy Johnson – vocal & maracas
23 October 1953
Kenny Graham’s Afro-Cubists – June 4th, 1951 (Esquire)
Jo Hunter (tp), Kenny Graham (ts), Ralph Dollimore (p), Roy Plummer (g), Cliff Ball (b), Dickie Devere (d) + maracas & conga
Chloe*/Over The Rainbow*/Skylon*/Dome Of Discovery*
“The original front line had been enriched by the addition of Roy Plummer, while the replacement of Pianist Jack Honeyborne by Ralph Dollimore had added a 2nd writing talent to the Band as well as strengthening its solo potential. The percussion department too had been organised to a high degree of efficiency; the departure of Guy Warren had reduced the number of Afro-Cuban percussionists to two men though extra men often featured in sessions at the 51 on an irregular basis, and this relaxing of the barrage of cross-rhythms, which at times threatened to engulf the entire band, allowing the splendid work of of the Band’s orthodox drummer, Dickie Devere, to be heard to much better advantage”.
Top of the regular range of Hofner archtops, the Committee was designed to impress. It was introduced as a UK-only model around 1953/54. The Committee sported the over-large “Frondose” Headstock up to 1963, when this was replaced by a President size Headstock, but still retaining the impressive “tulip” style mother of pearl inlays in the Fascia. Birds-eye Maple veneer was almost exclusively used for the body back & sides, with carved solid Spruce body Tops, although these seem to have been replaced with laminated Tops during the 1960’s, particularly on the Electric version. As with the President, a full-depth body Electric version was available from about 1957, with a Thinline Model appearing in late 1959. Twin Pick-ups were fitted on these, with 4-rotary Controls plus a large 3-way Selector switch taking over from the Hofner Consul in 1963. This arrangement changed to 3-rotary Controls plus Selector switch in 1967. The Committee retained its single Venetian (rounded) body cutaway throughout its production span, which ended around about 1969.
The Guitars name is derived from the Committee of 6 Top British Guitarists of that time (including Ivor Mariants) who were consulted by Selmer/Hofner during the Naming & Design process, and who helped with the introduction of the Instrument onto the 50’s music scene.
There are varying accounts of whom the members of the Committee were, but if you choose any 6 out of the following, you won’t be far out: Bert Weedon, Ike Isaacs, Denny Wright, Roy Plummer, Judd Proctor, Frank Deniz, Jack Llewellyn, Freddie Phillips.
Ike Isaacs, Jack Llewellyn with Bert Weedon holding his Golden Hofner Electric C1960 with original Black Bar Pickups
Jack Llewellyn may have a Grimshaw fitted with a DeArmond Pickup.
Various members of our family have just become aware of you wonderful Website and articles about Dad so I though I would make contact and say thank you! I am Rosamund , eldest child of Roy’s 2nd family and I have played Principal Piccolo in the Sydney Symphony for 26 years now….no Jazz flowing through my veins alas. I have been a fairly regular visitor to the UK for many years now, having studied flute with Peter Lloyd, the then Principal in the LSO and since, on tour with the SSO including the Proms last year. I see Max every time I visit…he now lives in Petersfield having retired from a long career at United Music publishers…and Roy’s gorgeous grand-daughter Nikki who works as a freelance Art Director in London with her partner Kelly. Max’s sister (and my lovely half-sister) Diane now lives in Spain with her husband Neil and next-door is my cousin Alain, Roy’s nephew…as you can see, we are spread all over the world but keep in very close contact and see each other regularly. My brother Alan is a Classical Guitarist living & working in the mountains just outside Sydney with his wife Annie ( a Flute player) and son Eugene who is studying Piano. My youngest brother Ted (who also found you on the internet) is not a Musician but was a good Pianist when he was a child…his son Oliver (11) is a great little Bass player and looks eerily like Roy in a favourite photo of him playing….same hands & facial expression. Another of Roy’s grandchildren, my son Andrew, is about to move to London to study Composition at the Royal College on a full scholarship. Roy would have been very proud don’t you think? My 15-year-old daughter Edwina plays piano & sings but Writes stories , and wants to be the JK Rowling – yes please. Anyway , just to say how much we have all enjoyed reading what you wrote about Dad and learning much more about him and the musical world in which he lived, especially my Mum Julie, who lives nearby in Bondi. Would love to come and hear you play next time I am in your hemisphere! All the best, Rosamund Plummer 2011
The sound of the Billy Burton Orchestra filled the rooms of legendary Sydney nightclubs such as Chequers and The Chevron Silver Spade Room. Billy Burton, a world-class Trumpet player, left England in 1958. After he arrived in Sydney, he and his Orchestra provided music for visiting International Artists such as Stevie Wonder, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones & Tony Bennett. Roy Plummer was a member of the Band. The Chevron Hotel in Sydney was the City’s 1st major Hotel in the International Style. Opened in September 1960 as the Chevron-Hilton, the hotel played host to most of the celebrities and dignitaries visiting Sydney through the 1970”s. Its Silver Spade Room was a popular dining room and music showroom. The Hotel was demolished in 1985.
Melody Maker Jazz Polls – Guitar
1. Ken Sykora (1923 votes)
2. Dave Goldberg (1234)
5. Ivor Mairants (410)
6. Ike Isaacs (324)
10. Cedric West (40)
11. Roy Plummer (31)
1. Ken Sykora (49.4%)
4. Dave Goldberg (6.7)
5. Ike Isaacs (6.4)
6 Ivor Mairants (4.2)
10 Roy Plummer (0.7)
Roy with Hofner Committee Acoustic Guitar Circa 1957