The SA Navy Dance Band
The origin of the first light music ensembles in the South
African Navy Band dates back to the mid 1970s with the formation of
two ensembles, the Big Band and the “Pop” Group, in 1976 and 1977
The first leader of this
ensemble was Chief Petty Officer Clive Sharrock. Clive
joined the SA Navy Band in 1976 having left England where he had run
his own band working mainly with the British Broadcasting
Corporation. He started the South African Navy Stage Band in 1977
and soon after that the group made their first recording for the
South African Broadcasting Corporation under Clive’s direction.
In the same year another highlight for the group was entertaining
two very special people at the South African Navy Bandroom, namely
the famous British band leader, Syd Lawrence and his wife, who were
on holiday from England.
'All the musicians in this group were
considered South Africa’s finest'
The Big Band continued to
develop and included world class musicians such as Cecil
Ricca on drums; Mo Robinson on bass; Derek Hutton on piano;
and Ted Odden, Bob Mowday, Stan Murray, Colin Stanley, John
McBeath and Willie van Zyl on saxophone. Peter Lynch, who
was the arranger for the group, was on guitar and vocals,
while Clive Sharrock, Ronnie Munro, Roger de Smet and Graham
Merrill made up the trombones. The trumpet section included
Ian Smith, John Langford, Eddie Backhouse and Kurt Shramm.
The line-up included five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones,
guitar, piano and drums. All the musicians in this group
were considered South Africa’s finest.
Between 1978 and 1979 the Big Band completed a tour of duty
playing for the various South African troops stationed on the
borders of South Africa during the Bush War conflicts of the 1970s
The Band also played for many special naval occasions and was a
firm favourite of Admiral Bennett, the then Chief of the South African Navy. The Big
Band was a prominent feature of the many SA Navy Band concerts under
the baton of Commander Ron Marlow. The Big Band stopped functioning
as an entity in 1989.
1977 saw the introduction of
the South African Navy Band “Pop” Group. The leader of
the group was Petty Officer Peter Lynch, a British immigrant, who
had played in pop bands in England as well as the then Rhodesia (now
Zimbabwe). Just before joining the South African Navy Band, Peter
was a member of the very successful pop group “Peanut Butter
Using his expertise gleaned from many years as a pop musician,
Peter soon had a group of musicians within the Band who also
functioned as the “pop” group. They proved to be very successful and
popular and in great demand throughout South Africa.
The Big Band and “Pop Band” eventually fused in the early 1990’s
to form a new light entertainment music group including new talented
younger musicians with both Clive and Peter providing leadership.
They were very popular during the early 1990's at Diplomatic and
Naval Balls, Chief of Navy and Civic Functions etc. Peter died very
suddenly in 1994, still in his 40's, having been one of the Navy
Bands outstanding musicians and an inspiration to the younger
members. Clive continues to perform in several civilian Cape Town
bands as an outstanding trombonist.
Youth meets with experience - the Dance Band of the early 1990's From
left to right (back): Clive Sharrock, Peter Lynch, Cecil Ricca,
Riedewaan Finck (Front) Martin Nosworty, Mo Robinson
The Dance and Stage Bands today
Warrant Officer Willie van Zyl is currently the leader of the
Dance and Stage Bands. The line-up of these groups include four saxophones,
three trumpets, three trombones, piano, electric bass, drums and
vocalist. Over the last few years Willie has augmented these
ensembles with two of Cape Town’s finest jazz musicians, namely
vocalist Jeff Weiner (recently deceased) and keyboardist Andrew
Willie is also the arranger for these ensembles and the 14-piece
line-up is compatible with his arrangements. The music played and
written is well suited for the diverse audiences to which the
The Dance Band has performed at many prestigious naval events
including the annual Chief of the South African Navy’s Prestige
Ball. The Stage Band, like the Big Band of old, is once again a
regular feature on stage with the Concert Band of the South African