b. Henderson Rowntree, 22 November 1912, West Hartlepool, County Cleveland, England, d. 24 June 1944, Southsea, Hampshire, England. A popular dance band vocalist of the late 30s, with a powerful, rich voice, Henderson served an apprenticeship in marine engineering before winning a local talent contest in 1935. After singing briefly with bands led by Jan Ralfini and the Dutch trumpeter Louis de Vries, he worked for Harry Leader with whom he made his first recordings in June 1935. Nearly a year later, Henderson joined Joe Loss, whose band was resident at the Astoria, Charing Cross Road, London and broadcasting regularly. During his five years with Loss, Henderson built up a substantial following, especially with the female audience, and had a thriving fan club. His most memorable record is probably ‘Begin The Beguine’, which was recorded with Joe Loss in July 1939, and issued on Regal Zonophone Records, backed by ‘My Prayer’. It is said to be the only record by a pre-war crooner to sell more than a million copies. Like most of the upwards of 250 records he made throughout his brief career, his name did not appear on the label. In 1940, shortly before he went into the Merchant Navy, Henderson also recorded several titles with Harry Roy and his band and the Organ, The Dance Band And Me. Ironically, after spending much of his time in the Navy abroad, and being torpedoed on two occasions, he died back home in Southsea in 1944 after being hit by a piece of shrapnel from a flying bomb. His recordings continue to be re-issued, mainly on cassette by an appreciation society which was formed in the north of England in 1990.
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