Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Les Loups - Harry Fleming

A composite picture of Harry Fleming's group for the Hansa Theatre in Hamburg.
Harry Fleming or Flemming ( both versions seem to exist) was a well known entertainer of the first half of the XXst century. We learned about him while researching the Oscar Aleman story. It was Harry Fleming, who invited the Les Loups duo (Gaston Bueno Lobo and Oscar Aleman) to join his revue. In 1928 they became a part of Harry Flemings group. In this group Oscar Aleman learned to improvise. Harry Fleming, living in Denmark but travelling all over the world saw the duo playing in one of the popular dance clubs in Buenos Aires. Harry Fleming, born from the Virgin Islands, then part of Denmark, was an entrepreneur, (tap) dancer, adventurer, gigolo and boxer and led a revue with a 15-piece band. Famous musicians that appeared for some time in this band were Tommy Ladnier (tp), Herb Flemming (tb) (not a relative), Roy Butler and Albert Wynn. tb

Another promo picture with Los Lobo in front and the 8 Fleming Girls.

In Feb. 1929 the Los Lobos duo visited with the Harry Fleming group Spain. They played all around Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Sevilla and Cádiz) until finally settling in Madrid. They also performed with Harry Fleming in other countries like Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands and Germany, but mainly on the Iberian Peninsula and were billed in the revue as the “Hawaiian Guitarists” in white clothes and with flower garlands. Due to a financial argument Lobo and Aleman left the group.

Program for a German performance with his Yazz-Orchester ( sic).
I found an article in Storyville nº 71 (June 1977)( by Peter Darke and Ralph Gulliver) about Roy Butler, who played with Harry Fleming and is on the picture as the man with the saxophone at the right and above in the orchestra second from the right. It is a composite picture of Harry Fleming's Bluebirds and artists ( The eight girls are the 8 Fleming Girls) at the Hansa Theatre in Hamburg (Germany). Another picture shows the same group with again Les Loup in front of the orchestra on a prominent place. Harry Fleming is on the left and Florence Miller, a solo dancer is on the right. Roy Butler is the saxophone player to the right of the sousaphone.

He said: There ( = Paris), I joined Harry Fleming's Revue. He was an American from the Virgin Isles and he formed a large stage band with chorus, plus various name artists to assist. We played the Hansa Theater in Hamburg, the Circo de Precie Teatro in Madrid, to name a few. We went all over Spain, some dates in Holland, Belgium, France and Italy." The Defender, 26 October 1929, lists Harry Fleming's Blue Birds in Spain as Tommy Ladnier, trumpet, Herb Flemming, trombone, Roy Butler, Wilson Townes, saxes, Frank Ethridge, piano, 'Strappy' Jones, drums.

Harry Fleming promo picture on a flyer for a performance at the TeatroArriage in Bilbao ( Spain) ca. 1930

"Off and on I was with Fleming for about three years." Roy said. "Personally, he wasn't a bad fellow, just a bit unwise. >
He was always overspending money he didn't have. He'd hire a show into a city without having enough to get them there. The personnel of the band changed many times during the years I was with him. So did the artists. There was a British arranger with us, Bobby Wolly. I can't recall ever having made records with him but I don't rule it out because things were so hectic then with Fleming. We never knew if he was going to get enough money to get us to the next theatre or not! He went as far as he could and eventually nobody would hire him any more. He died very pitifully in Paris

Herb Flemming, not a releative of Harry Fleming, reorganized his International Rhythm Aces to tour in much the same fashion as Harry Fleming had done.Thanks to this article we also found a programme of Harry Fleming's 16 Bluebirds Revue for August 1930.

The bill is made for a performing of Flemings revue in the Teatro de 18 Julio in Montevideo ( Uruguay ) on Thursday the 24th of January. Les Loups is part of the appearance too. It might be possible that some of the artists mentioned on the bill are visible on the publicity picture.

This blog is also posted at my Keep Swinging blogspot ( ), both in English and in Dutch.


Anonymous Kevin Gauthier said...

I recently discovered that my grandmother went by the alias "Miss Estelle Dixon" (her stage name) who was one of the performers in 1929 that danced and sang with Harry. She just told us this story last week so we looked it up and found your site. She turns 103 in April and still sharp as a tack! An amazing woman who I continue to learn more and more about. Here is a pic of her while touring with Harry's group:

8:39 AM  

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