Al Bowlly left an indelible mark on music; he has been described as ‘the most popular vocalist in Britain’ in the 1930s.
With suitably suave suits, stylish combed back hair and gleaming smile, housewives swooned to his bestsellers Goodnight Sweetheart and The Very Thought of You.
Bowlly’s Latin looks came courtesy of his Greek and Lebanese parents.
He introduced, with great effect, an intimate touch to his performances by using a small portable microphone.
Radio was essential to the creation of Bowlly’s success; fans could often hear his recordings on Radio Luxembourg and the BBC.
His dreamy voice earned him a place as one of the UK’s top vocalists; whilst he also enjoyed some success in the United States, even gaining a show on NBC.
But when was killed by a German bomb, press reaction was fairly muted, as not to give the air raids a propaganda boost.
Like so many others, he was killed in a huge terror raid in April 1941 which German radio described as “the night of judgment over the British capital.”
Nearly 500 planes came over an eight-hour raid – the biggest ever recorded till that point.
Al Bowlly was right underneath the Nazi raiders.
His flat was struck parachute mine, sending brickwork, plaster, and glass flying everywhere – Bowlly was hit by the bedroom door, with the impact against his head proving fatal.
His last recording, cut a fortnight before his death, was a version of Irving Berlin’s comedy song on Hitler When That Man is Dead and Gone.
He was buried a mass grave at Hanwell Cemetery, where his name is given as Albert Alex Bowlly.
On Wednesday 25 June 1941, the BBC paid tribute with the broadcast The Song Ended: Gramophone Tribute to Al Bowlly.
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