|Intro||Solo pianist of popular music, recording artist|
|Was||Musician Conductor Pianist Jazz musician Bandmaster|
|Birth||18 August 1896, Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.|
|Death||16 March 1958, West Sussex, South East England, England, United Kingdom (aged 61 years)|
Charles Leonard "Charlie" Kunz (August 18, 1896 – March 16, 1958) was an American-born British musician popular during the British dance band era.
Life and career
Kunz was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, 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 England 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 1921 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. 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".
Kunz's rhythmic piano style remains unique, a relaxed flowing interpretation of popular melodies played with subtle soft and loud accents, a style 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)
- 3) Pat Sparkes (1942–1958)
Kunz has inspired many young musicians. Hawaiian musician Kala'e Camarillo often uses Charlie Kunz as a stage name.