NME Poll Winners – The 1950s

The jazz newspaper New Musical Express launched in 1952, a jazz newspaper which grew from the ashes of the Accordion Times and Musical Express. In mid-November, it famously launched the UK’s first singles chart, a top twelve.

I think they launched the NME Poll in 1952, with the poll winners’ party a couple of months later, but honestly NME’s own timeline on their website is a bit sketchy. I’ve done my best to make sense of it, but I’m not sure I fully understand it!

1952

The party for the 1952 awards, held at the Royal Albert Hall, 19 April 1953, presented by Scott Brady and Mary Castle.

  • Dance Band: Ted Heath and His Music
  • Female Vocalist: Lita Roza
  • Outstanding Musician: Ronnie Scott
  • Small Band: Johnny Dankworth Seven
  • Male Vocalist: Dickie Valentine

1953

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, 25 April 1954, presented by Nat ‘King’ Cole. I believe the NME article actually unintentionally omits the 1954 results.

1954

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, 14 February 1955, presented by Nigel Patrick.

  • Large Band: Ted Heath and His Music
  • Male Vocalist: Dickie Valentine
  • Small Band: Ronnie Scott and His Orchestra
  • Female Vocalist: Lita Roza
  • Musician of the Year: Eric Delaney
  • Vibraphone Player: Victor Feldman
  • Piano Player: Bill McGuffie
  • Trumpet Player: Kenny Baker
  • Vocal Group: Stargazers
  • Alto Sax Player: Johnny Dankworth
  • Bass Player: Johnny Hawksworth
  • Clarinet Player: [illegible] – NME website says Carl Barriteau, but this is an error
  • Baritone Sax Player: Harry Klein
  • Trombone Player: Don Lusher
  • Arranger: Reg Owen
  • Tenor Sax Player: Tommy Whittle
  • Guitar Player: Bert Weedon
  • Outstanding Drummer: [illegible] – NME website says Jack Parnell, but this is an error
  • Band You Would Most Like To See At The NME Pollwinners’ Concert: Johnny Dankworth’s Orchestra

These results are listed in the 1954 article on the NME website but a scan on the 1955 page, so this is the 1954 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1955.

1955

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, 29 January 1956.

  • Outstanding American Feminine Singer: Doris Day
  • The World’s Outstanding Musical Personality: Bill Haley
  • Top Male Singer: Dickie Valentine
  • Outstanding American Male Singer: Frank Sinatra
  • Outstanding British Musical Personality: Dickie Valentine
  • World’s Outstanding Singer: Frank Sinatra
  • Outstanding British Feminine Singer: Alma Cogan
  • Outstanding British Male Singer: Dickie Valentine
  • World’s Outstanding Vocal Group: Four Aces
  • Large Band Section: Ted Heath and His Music
  • Favourite Disc Jockey: Jack Jackson
  • Small Bands: The Kirchins
  • British Vocal Group: Stargazers

Dickie Valentine and Alma Cogan both had their commercial peak was in 1955, so this is the 1955 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1956.

1956

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, early February 1957, presented by John Gregson.

  • Large Band: Ted Heath
  • Small Band: The Kirchins
  • Musician Of The Year: Eddie Calvert
  • Favourite American Singer- Female: Doris Day
  • Favourite American Singer- Male: Frank Sinatra
  • Female Dance Band Vocalist: Rose Brennan
  • Male Solo Singing Star: Dickie Valentine
  • Female Solo Singing Star: Ruby Murray
  • Favourite Musical Personality: Dickie Valentine
  • Most Promising New Band: Ronnie Scott
  • Vocal Group: Stargazers
  • Male Dance Band Vocalist: Robbie Britton
  • Outstanding Popular Singer In The World: Frank Sinatra

The correct date for this one is harder to judge, but Eddie Calvert had three hits in 1956 and only one the following year, so I believe this is the 1956 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1957.

1957

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, presented by Tony Wright and Roger Moore.

  • Favourite American Female Singer: Doris Day
  • World’s Outstanding Popular Singer: Pat Boone
  • Favourite American Male Singer: Pat Boone
  • Favourite British Female Singer: Alma Cogan
  • World’s Outstanding Vocal Group: The Platters
  • British Large Bands: Ted Heath
  • Favourite British Male Singer: Dickie Valentine
  • British Musical Personality: Tommy Steele
  • World’s Outstanding Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • British Vocal Groups: King Brothers
  • British Disc Jockey: Jack Jackson
  • Small Groups (Skiffle): Lonnie Donegan
  • Small Groups (Traditional) : Chris Barber
  • Small Groups (Modern Jazz): Tony Kinsey

Connie Francis‘s commercial peak was in 1957, and that was Cliff Richard‘s first year of hits, so this is the 1957 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1958.

1958

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, presented by Pete Murray.

  • Favourite US Female Singer: Connie Francis
  • World’s Outstanding Popular Singer: Elvis Presley
  • Favourite US Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • World’s Outstanding Vocal Group: Everly Brothers
  • World’s Outstanding Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • Outstanding Vocal Personality: Frankie Vaughan
  • Favourite Male Singer: Frankie Vaughan
  • Small Group: Lonnie Donegan
  • Favourite Female Singer: Alma Cogan
  • Vocal Group: Mudlarks
  • Outstanding Instrumental Personality: Eddie Calvert
  • Large Band: Ted Heath
  • Favourite New Singer (Under 21): Cliff Richard
  • Favourite Disc Jockey: Pete Murray

Connie Francis‘s commercial peak was in 1958, and that was Cliff Richard‘s first year of hits, so this is the 1958 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1959.

1959

Held at Wembley’s Empire Bowl.

  • World’s Outstanding Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • World’s Outstanding Female Singer: Connie Francis
  • World’s Outstanding Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • World’s Outstanding Vocal Group: Everly Brothers
  • Favourite British Male Singer: Cliff Richard
  • Favourite British Female Singer: Shirley Bassey
  • Favourite British Vocal Group: The Mudlarks
  • Favourite British Vocal Personality: Frankie Vaughan
  • Favourite British Instrumentalist: Russ Conway
  • Favourite British Large Band or Orchestra: Ted Heath
  • Favourite British Small Group: Lonnie Donegan
  • Favourite British Disc Jockey: Pete Murray
  • Favourite British New Disc or TV singer: Craig Douglas
  • Favourite British Disc of Year: Cliff Richard, for Living Doll
  • Favourite British Artist for Poll Concert: Marty Wilde

Living Doll was first released in July 1959, so this is the 1959 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1960.

See also

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