One of London’s favourite singers and a bass player from the Ballymote area who went on to play with The Beatles, Duke Ellington and countless other stars in Britain are going into the London Music Hall of Fame.
Denise Pelley and the late Jack Fallon were announced as the 2015 Hall inductees by Jack Richardson Music Awards (JRMA) chair Grant Stein on Thursday. The JRMA chooses inductees into the Hall.
“We don’t do what we do for any fame or glory,” Pelley said Thursday, adding she hoped she could speak for other musicians. “We do it because we love it and we love to share our love of music — which just makes getting an award like this that much more touching to receive.”
Born in Nova Scotia, Pelley arrived in London when she was about six months old. Her first public appearance was at the age of 12, when she sang folk songs at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. By 16, she had added rhythm and blues and Motown tunes to her repertoire.
She became a professional after high school, when she joined a Michigan show band.
“We rehearsed and played almost every day,” Pelley once told The Free Press. “We did everything from pop hits to R&B classics, Motown and funk. It was a great experience that turned me into a professional. I learned how to pace myself.”
But two years on the road was enough. Pelley returned to London and gravitated toward jazz and jazz musicians. She performed for 2 1/2 years in a legendary nine-piece house band at the old Bumpers club and later had a steady gig with pianist and Hall of Famer John Noubarian and bassist Darryl Stacey at the old 99 King St. venue.
As a blues, gospel and jazz singer, Pelley has won numerous awards and performed with orchestras in her hometown and as far off as Portugal and Germany. Her 1998 jazz debut CD Trust The Moment won national acclaim. Later albums included the gospel-flavoured I’m Home and Live At The Grand, which was recorded at the iconic London theatre with a 12-piece band.
Locally, she has performed at TD Sunfest and at the old Royal Canadian Big Band and Bluesfest.
As an actor, she has been on the Grand Theatre stage in London and taken the one-woman show Jazzabel to NYC.
Fallon was born on Oct. 13, 1915 in the London area and died on May 22, 2006 in London, England where he had lived most of his life
The bass player, fiddler and impresario would have been 100 later this year. Admirers see that detail as making it fitting the man of two Londons goes into the London Music Hall of Fame as a 2015 inductee.
Fallon is probably the only musician — and certainly the only London Music Hall of Fame inductee — to have played with The Beatles and Duke Ellington and Lena Horne and Noel Coward and Bob Hope and Sarah Vaughan and Django Reinhardt and jazz legends Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron and country stars Tex Ritter and Tennessee Ernie Ford and bluesmen Big Bill Broonzy and Josh White — and a host of others.
Off-stage, he booked gigs for The Rolling Stones and The Beatles early in their careers.
Perhaps Fallon’s most widely-heard track is Don’t Pass Me By off The Beatles’ White Album. That’s Fallon playing fiddle in 1968. The Beatles had lured him out of semi-retirement.
Fallon started his career decades before in a family band playing dances and events in Middlesex County.
Growing up in the Ballymote area, Fallon became part of the London dance band scene. In the 1930s, he studied with Bruce Sharpe — the founder of Orchestra London’s forerunner — and played in the Frank Crowley band. He would have known of such other Hall of Famers as the Lombardo brothers and Alf Tibbs.
Fallon stayed in Britain after playing in an RCAF band, the Streamliners, during the Second World War.
He remembered recording with The Beatles fondly. Paul McCartney was at the controls and Ringo Starr played piano. “George Martin, who I had met before . . . had jotted down the 12-bar sequence,” Fallon wrote in his memoirs. “They were nice guys, just Liverpool lads.”
Previous Hall inductees include Richardson, Noubarian, punk bands Demics and ’63 Monroe, blues singer Georgette Fry, country stars Marie Bottrell and Tommy Hunter and the Lombardo Family — bandleader Guy and his brothers Carmen, Victor and Lebert Lombardo, and their younger sister Rosemarie (Lombardo) Rogers.
Pelley and Fallon, who has family in London, will be formally inducted at the 2015 JRMA gala April 12 at the London Music Hall, 185 Queens Ave.