Obituary: Vernon Elliott

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The Independent Online
The story of Vernon Elliott's meeting with the Guyanese dancer Ken "Shakehips" Johnson [obituary by John Pilgrim, 30 November] is wrong on several counts, writes Val Wilmer.

As Johnson's biographer, I spent a lot of time with Vernon and Nora Mukle to ascertain exactly when this took place. Eliott was at college and still carrying his double-bass about in 1936 when taken to the Shim-Sham Club by a neighbour. Having played in a couple of dance bands, he sat in for a few tunes with the American pianist Garland Wilson and made an impression on Johnson, who was in the audience. This was by no means a regular job, and Johnson, who had been fronting a touring band for just a few months, was a long way from the established figure he became when he went into the Cafe de Paris three years later.

The Cafe was not bombed until March 1941. By then, the Shim-Sham was long gone, Elliott had been called up, so could not have remained active in music, and, despite the constantly repeated myth, Johnson and one of his saxophonists were the only musicians to lose their lives.