Bernie Fenton

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b. Bernard Shaw Fenton, 17 November 1921, Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, d. 17 November 2001, England. In the 30s, Fenton began playing piano in and around his home town, including playing in Bert Clegg’s…
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Artist Biography by

b. Bernard Shaw Fenton, 17 November 1921, Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, d. 17 November 2001, England. In the 30s, Fenton began playing piano in and around his home town, including playing in Bert Clegg’s band in Mexborough, and also in neighbouring Nottinghamshire before moving to London. Throughout the 40s, Fenton worked with several band leaders, including Johnny Claes, Oscar Rabin, Sid Millward and Tito Burns. Towards the end of the 40s Fenton was a charter member of London’s famed Club Eleven, a hotbed of the burgeoning British bop scene. Here and elsewhere in the city, he worked with John Dankworth, Laurie Morgan, Joe Muddell and other pioneers, such as Tony Crombie, Tommy Pollard, alto saxophonist Johnny Rogers and Ronnie Scott. He spent some time in the bands of Paul Adams and Harry Parry before becoming a staff musician and arranger in the music publishing industry. With the advent of commercial television in the UK, he became a successful writer of advertising jingles.

In 1985, a BBC television documentary in the Arena series reunited Fenton with other Club Eleven veteran alumni, among them Lennie Bush, trumpeter Leon Calvert, Crombie, Dankworth, Morgan, Muddell, Rogers (by now a Yorkshire hill farmer), Scott, trumpeter Hank Shaw, pianist Norman Stenfalt, and drummer Flash Winston. Fenton, who also played organ, continued to perform throughout his late years with several bands, including the Glenn Miller tribute band led by Herb Miller. Fenton’s long service in the jingle mines obscured the significant role he had played as a founder of British bop.