[Dixielandjazz] Ben Featherstone

Bill Haesler bhaesler at bigpond.net.au
Sat Jan 6 14:45:21 PST 2007

>............ a distant cousin........is researching her husband's family and
has dug up a relative of his who was (is?) an Aussie musician, Ben Featherstone.
Do  any of you folks in Oz know of Ben?  Any details about him?<

Dear Rae Ann,
Benny Featherstone (1912-1977) born on Tasmania [a large island at the
bottom of our vast continent] was an Australian jazz legend in his own
lifetime. Inspired by the visiting Ray Tellier San Francisco Orchestra, (who
came to Oz [1926-27] for an 18-month long engagement at Melbourne's St Kilda
Palias De Danse and introduced jazz to the establishment) he was a gifted
musician who played ALL the instruments professionally, except banjo and
guitar.  From 1927 he became a working musician who excelled in the jazz and
swing yet, strangely, shunned the Australian jazz revival in the 40s. He
tried bop, but it was obviously not for him and became reclusive in his
later years. I met him once when I was a jazz teenager, but at that time
knew him only as an ex hot-dance band musician.
It was not until after his death that his friend, jazz collector Ernst
Grossman, wrote a lengthy biography that we realised what a titan Benny was
in his day.
He recorded, and a tribute video (compiled as I recall by Melbourne jazz
entrepreneur Dianna Allen) was issued privately. Graeme Bell, who knew and
jammed with Benny in the 40s, loaned me his copy some years back.
I have loads of information about him, but it is far too long to post on the
I can compile what I have and send it to you snail mail.
This may take a little while, as next week's projects are already piling up,
starting today with our regular Sunday arvo pub job.
Kind regards,

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