Charles Leonard Kunz (August 18, 1896 – March 16, 1958) was an American-born British musician popular during the British dance band era, and who became a pianist.
Kunz was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States, the only son of Margaret T. (Wehr) and Leonard Kunz, a master baker who played the French horn. He made his debut aged six and made his first appearance as a prodigy aged seven. During World War I he led his own resident band, while working in a munitions factory.
He came to the United Kingdom in 1922 as a pianist in a small dance band. He was to remain there until his death from a heart attack in 1958. He is buried in Streatham Vale Cemetery. He was such a distinctive and popular pianist that he abandoned his orchestra to concentrate on his piano playing, both at music hall venues and on the BBC. Two of Britain’s most famous female vocalists were with his orchestra in the 1930s: Vera Lynn and Welsh songstress Dorothy Squires. His best known crooner was George Barclay.
Kunz was the pianist in a dance band which was led by the drummer, Ed Krick. The band came to London in 1922 to play a residency in the London Trocadero. The band returned without Kunz to Pennsylvania after a successful run at the ‘Troc’ and, until 1998, still got together for sessions for retirement homes, renamed as ‘The B Flats’.
His debut as a soloist came in 1934 at the Holborn Empire, London followed by countless variety theatres in Britain and the Continent, after playing in hotels, restaurants and ballrooms. The same year saw the beginning of what was to become a continuous output of solo records of “Charlie Kunz Medleys”. His signature tune was “Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie”, and his closing theme was “Pink Elephants”.
He became the highest paid pianist in the world, earning up to £1,000 a week. His piano transcriptions sold widely in the teaching of piano-playing. Kunz’s playing style was a relaxed flowing interpretation of popular melodies played with subtle soft and loud accents, which he called “melody and rhythm with expression”.
He was married three times:
1) Amanda Dysher (died) (one son Joseph)
2) Eva Dorothy “Nin” Lloyd, a fashion model (1923–1939) (two sons Peter and Gerald) In 1939 he was living with Eva in Elmer Road, Chichester Area.
3) Pat Sparkes (1942–1958)
He is buried in Streatham Park Cemetery in London.
This album was released shortly after his death. It was the farewell to a great pianist of the music hall era…. listen to the master of ragtime and honky tonk piano !
Listen and enjoy !
Charlie Kunz (piano)
Alternate frontcover from France:
01. Medley 1: (8.01)
01.1. Let The Great Big World Keep Turning
01.2. Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me A Bow-Wow
01.3. The Galloping Major
01.4. I’m Shy, Mary Ellen
01.5. Katie Connor
01.6. Get Out And Get Under
01.7.If Should Plant A Tiny Seed Of Love
01.8. The Army Of Today’s All Right
01.9. Ship Ahoy
02. Medley 2: (7.22)
02.1. In The Twi-twi-twilight
02.2. She’s A Lassie From Lancashire
02.3. The Lily Of Laguna
02.4. You Made Me Love You
02.5. Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay
02.6. I’ll Be Your Sweetheart
02.8. For Months And Months And Monhs
02.9- Goodby, Dolly Gray
03. Medley 3: (8.00)
03.1. On The Good Ship
03.2. Wait Till The Clouds Roll By
03.3. Darling Mabel
03.4. The Ship I Love
03.5. Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy
03.6. I Was A Good Little Girl Till I Met You
03.7. I The Good Old Summer Time
03.8. Oh ! Oh ! Antonio
04. Medley 4: (8.26)
04.1. Following In Father’s Footsteps
04.2. After The Ball
04.3. Two Little Girls In Blue
04.4. I Used To Sigh For The Silvery Moon
04.5. Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly
04.6. P.C. 49
04.7. Three O’Clock In The Morning
04.8. Are We To Part Like This
04.9. Waiting For Robert E. Lee