Roy Willox (with Arthur Greenslade & Ronnie Verrell) – ‘First Recordings’ – 1945/6

Roy Willox – First Recordings

(Privately produced by Eileen Mann. 14 minutes. EP review by Sebastian Scotney)

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This is a little piece of history. We covered the passing of Roy Willox (1929-2019) when he passed, including my personal memories of the transformational / galvanising / alchemical effect which his presence could have on a sax section.

Simon Spillett reviewed the book which Eileen Mann and Andrew Willox produced in his honour (links to both pieces below).

Here’s a quote from Simon’s review: “Not for nothing did Hollywood score legend John Williams ask for him by name when assembling the orchestra to record the Harry Potter movie soundtracks, a rare honour in the sometimes unseen and anonymous world of film music.”

Now we have Roy’s very first recording, made when he was just sixteen years old. The date of recording is stated as either late 1945 or early 1946. We hear in embryo the sound and presence of a player who made his mark at the highest level for decades. Willox is already such a strong an unflappably confident player here, and there is also tonal variety: he goes at one point for a growly sound which is highly effective.

The other players here are pianist Arthur Greenslade, then aged 22 and drummer Ronnie Verrell, then 19. Given the state of the acetate (there is a picture showing visible flaking), the sound quality that Dave Bennett and Martin Haskell have been able to derive is surprisingly good. The confident and upbeat vibe extends to Verrell’s drumming: he certainly doesn’t hold back…

There are detailed sleeve notes by Eileen Mann. Later in life, trumpet king Derek Watkins was to invent the moniker that would stay with Roy Willox for the rest of his life: “Cannonball Elderly”. Like all of us, even he was young… once upon a time. And here’s the proof.

Copies can be obtained from by emailing Eileen Mann : eileen (at ) kandemann (dot) uk

LINKS: RIP Roy Willox from 2019

Simon Spillett’s review of “I Think We Have a Find: A Biography of Roy Willox” by Andrew Willox and Eileen Mann

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