We Interview Kenny Ball
InterviewIt seems that the music of Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen have always been with Eric and Ern, allowing your sides to stop aching for a moment as you watched the two men at work. In August 2007, we managed to get this short interview with the man himself.
How did the band get together?
Quite simply we were broke. I had been playing in bands as a sideman but decided to form my own group and stride out on my own.
Have you kept most of the musicians from the original line up?
From the early line ups 2 are still playing with the Jazzmen. John Bennett who plays Trombone was a founder member of the group. Andy Cooper who plays Clarinet joined us in 1968 continues to play with us today
How did you break into TV?
Our big break on TV came via the BBC Jazz Programme.
How did you come to be on the Morecambe & Wise show?
We were asked to do the TV show by Eric & Ern, Sid and Dick. We were delighted to do so.
Initially you were not on every show. That happen in 1969. Were you asked to be the regular guest, how did you feel?
Terrific Working with Eric And Ernie was always a pleasure.
Was Eric or Ern a fan of jazz?
Both Eric and Ernie were fans of Jazz. Ernie in particular was a fan of the Big Bands.
Eric and Ern would often end the intro and hand over to you, sometimes giving you a chance to get an extra laugh. We recall you being naked on one show, tell us about that?
That was the Permissive episode, series 3 I think. That was a lot of fun. The camera cut to us and we looked naked hiding behind a piano. We had great fun filming that episode.
Did you choose the songs you did, or were they requested?
As with any professional engagement we discussed what we were going to play with the producer.
Were you given a set time to fill, or did you have as much time as the song needed?
We were given a slot of about 3 to 5 minutes to fill.
If you had a set time, did you have to re-arrange the songs?
Sometimes the songs would have to be re arranged to fit the slot, but this was no trouble.
Did you ever go on tour with them for summer seasons or other live events?
No, we never joined them on the road, we had our own commitments away from TV.
How did being regulars effect your popularity?
Exposure on a TV show such as Morecambe And Wise can only have a positive effect on your career and popularity. A career that is still going strong and popularity that is still growing.
Do you think that Morecambe & Wise helped to bring jazz more into the public eye?
Without a doubt. They helped to bring Jazz to the masses.
Were there any practical jokes behind the scenes?
Eric and Ernie were comedians and that carried on behind the scenes as well.
Were you ever laughing too much to play properly?
Rehearsals were a time to get the laughs out of your system. There were plenty of times when the giggles got the better of us during this time
What was the atmosphere like in the studio?
The atmosphere in the studio was always fantastic. It was great to be part of such a wonderful TV family.
Were your slots live, or pre-recorded?
Our shots were always live. That wasn't a problem. It was just like playing a concert.
Did you rehearse with them, or just turn up on the night?
It depended on our schedule. Sometimes were rehearsed with them sometimes we just turned up and played.
Did you ever have trouble recording your slot, intervention by others or bad equipment?
I don't recall any. They were always so professional.
Did you realise the level of the TV ratings at the time, and did it affect you?
Not Half!! No matter how good you are and how long you've been in the business playing to millions of people can be nerve racking!!
Did you meet the guests back stage, if so who was your favourite?
Of all the stars we bumped into I would have to say my favourite was Bruce Forsythe.
Did you get to watch the show before and after your slot?
Yes. If you had the chance to watch the country's best comedians at work, you would as well.
What are your memories of working with Eric and Ern?
Two of the nicest, humblest, funniest people I have ever met. Their wives and families were terrific.
What did you do when the show ended?
We would go to Eric and Ern's dressing room. We'd have a small libation and talk over the show with them and the producer.
What are you doing now?
We are still playing all over the country.
Where can people find out about you concerts and CD’s?
Most quality retailers will stock our CD's. You can also find out about what we are doing via our web site : www.kennyball.co.uk
© morecambeandwise.com 2007