The Imminent Immigrant: (1952-1959)
Brian Shaw [+]
Louisiana State University
Nick Smart [+]
Royal Academy of Music
Kenny arrived in London during the “Great Smog” of 1952. The professional music scene in London at the time was centered around Archer Street, where players gathered in hopes of getting work in dance bands and night clubs. Following a short-lived job at the Post Office, the musicians he encountered and his short stay in a rooming house serendipitously led to him meeting his future wife, Doreen Yeend, over the telephone. He had early musical associations with the successful bands of Roy Fox, Carl Barriteau, Buddy Featherstonhaugh, and Tommy Whittle, with whom he would make his first professional recording. This period was followed by the birth of the Wheelers’ two children, Mark and Louann. Kenny embarked on a tour with Woody Herman before eventually getting his big break: an invitation from John Dankworth, one of the most successful English bandleaders of the time.