The Band in the 1970s
On 1 February 1973 Lieutenant Commander Ron Marlow was appointed
the Director of Music of the South African Navy Band.
The 1970s ushered in a new era of professionalism for the band.
Ron started recruiting professional musicians who had been playing
with various orchestras, military bands (including the Royal Marines
and Grenadier Guards), pop bands and the like.
Parade overlooking the historic Naval Dockyard
The late 1970s saw a dramatic increase of members in the band,
with the numbers swelling to an all time high of 76 musicians.
During Commander Marlow’s tenure, the first female musician was
appointed to the Band. Another first was his recruiting of trainee
musicians into the Band.
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 also 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 Conspiracy”.
Using the expertise gleaned from many years as a pop musician,
Peter soon had a group of musicians in the Band who proved to
be very successful and popular and in great demand throughout South
'The band celebrated its 25th anniversary
The band celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1979 making history
by being one of the first South African Defence Force Bands to be
involved in the inaugural Durban Military Tattoo; the biggest tattoo
ever to take place in South Africa.
The band’s annual tasking during the 1970s averaged 300
performances a year with the band travelling the length and breadth
of South Africa.
Additional highlights during this period included playing at the
annual Opening of Parliament, various State functions and being
involved with the 50th anniversary celebrations of South African
Celebrating 50 years of South African Airways
Commander Ron Marlow retired in 1989 with more than 35 years of
distinguished service in the South African Defence Force (later to
become the South African National Defence Force).
The Clive Sharrock Big Band
Chief Petty Officer Clive Sharrock joined the SA Navy Band in
1976 having left England where he ran his own band working mainly
with the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Clive and the Big Band entertaining Syd Lawrence and his wife at the Bandroom
Clive 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 the direction of Clive.
In the same year another highlight was playing a concert in the
SA Navy Band’s Bandroom for two very special people, namely the
famous British bandleader, Syd Lawrence and his wife who were on
holiday from England.
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 also on guitar and vocals.
Clive Sharrock, Ronnie Munro, Roger de Smet and Graham Merrill were
on trombone and the trumpet section included Ian Smith, John
Langford, Eddie Backhouse and Kurt Shramm and for a short time Mike
Oldham, who was to become Director of Music of the SA Navy Band.
Paddy Kelly and Robbie Bevan were ad-hoc musicians with the Band.
During 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
The Big Band was also 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.