To all and sundry, near and far, banjoists in particular:

I am trying to pull together some facts about the life of the banjo player and composer Bert Bassett.  Although he was rated as being up there with the best, he gets no mention in our Player Biographies, which is a serious gap.  He was particularly active in the years just before WWI, and became the editor of BMG in the 1930's.  There is a short account of his activities in his section of the Original Recordings, but that one leaves a lot out. 

He died on 21 April 1937 and his death was mentioned in the BMG editorial of May 1937.  I was expecting there would be an obituary of him in the June (or July) edition of BMG, but those two are missing from our John Field Memorial Library. 

Does anyone have a copy of the BMG obituary, or an obituary from any other fretted instrument magazine?  Or anything?

In grateful anticipation,

Regards

Tony

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Tony, I have no facts to add but I like his compositions and have enjoyed listening to the few recordings of his that I've heard. I hope something comes of your inquiry,

Tony, there was an introduction to Bert Bassett, the 'new editor' in the March/May (cannot remember which) issue of the B.M.G. written by TBJnr. Bill Brewer's 'The Banjo in Britain'  B.M.G. articles c1954, will have a reference to BB, and then, if my memory serves me right, TBSnr, as the 'Bath Chairman' mentioned, with photographs, the ever sunny afternoons, playing the banjo with various banjo luminaries, including BB in the early years of the 20th century in his 'Bath Chair' articles in the early 1960s. Essex mentions him as being a member of the CE Pierrots, BB played at Le Touquet with the troupe led by  Kate Moss of 'Floral Dance' fame. As you say, his omission from the player biographies is a situation which needs rectifying. I think that there is enough material scattered hither and thither to do the job it just needs tracking down and collating. I'm still getting my breath back from doing the Morley bio with Anthony Peabody and at present I am working on some very exciting new material to add to that project, otherwise I would take BB on myself.

Thanks, Richard.   That was very helpful.  I have scoured through all the BMGs in the John Field library and I probably have enough now to do him justice, but none of it is very personal.  TBSnr reports on a visit by BB in which he made himself more ill (iller?) than he normally was by drinking gallons of the spa water.  So BB was not a well man, in spite of which he seems to have been very active across right from the start, what with public performances, recording, composing and editing BMG, not to mention keeping up to date with all the instruments he played. He was there at every major function and played in every significant ensemble - right to the end.  And yet we only know this from the programme billing.

Does anyone know if he was married?  I am sure he will remain an enigma.

Regards

Tony 



Richard William Ineson said:

Tony, there was an introduction to Bert Bassett, the 'new editor' in the March/May (cannot remember which) issue of the B.M.G. written by TBJnr. Bill Brewer's 'The Banjo in Britain'  B.M.G. articles c1954, will have a reference to BB, and then, if my memory serves me right, TBSnr, as the 'Bath Chairman' mentioned, with photographs, the ever sunny afternoons, playing the banjo with various banjo luminaries, including BB in the early years of the 20th century in his 'Bath Chair' articles in the early 1960s. Essex mentions him as being a member of the CE Pierrots, BB played at Le Touquet with the troupe led by  Kate Moss of 'Floral Dance' fame. As you say, his omission from the player biographies is a situation which needs rectifying. I think that there is enough material scattered hither and thither to do the job it just needs tracking down and collating. I'm still getting my breath back from doing the Morley bio with Anthony Peabody and at present I am working on some very exciting new material to add to that project, otherwise I would take BB on myself.

BB had tuberculosis from which he is said to have died, he also seems have had some kind of deformity (Scoliosis?) so he faced difficulties beyond the norm in his life. His father may have worked for Essex I think but as you say there is virtually no personal detail available which also applies to most of the other banjo virtuosi of the time. Nowadays we are used to being privy to the most intimate details of the lives any so called 'celeb' but this was not the case in those days. I'll try to remember if I have got anything relating to BB, he deserves a decent write up. Of his compositions I like the 'Patagonian Picnic' and 'Jumbo Rag' also 'A C--n Song', he wrote quite few good tunes which also deserve more exposure.



TONY BRYAN said:

Thanks, Richard.   That was very helpful.  I have scoured through all the BMGs in the John Field library and I probably have enough now to do him justice, but none of it is very personal.  TBSnr reports on a visit by BB in which he made himself more ill (iller?) than he normally was by drinking gallons of the spa water.  So BB was not a well man, in spite of which he seems to have been very active across right from the start, what with public performances, recording, composing and editing BMG, not to mention keeping up to date with all the instruments he played. He was there at every major function and played in every significant ensemble - right to the end.  And yet we only know this from the programme billing.

Does anyone know if he was married?  I am sure he will remain an enigma.

Regards

Tony 



Richard William Ineson said:

Tony, there was an introduction to Bert Bassett, the 'new editor' in the March/May (cannot remember which) issue of the B.M.G. written by TBJnr. Bill Brewer's 'The Banjo in Britain'  B.M.G. articles c1954, will have a reference to BB, and then, if my memory serves me right, TBSnr, as the 'Bath Chairman' mentioned, with photographs, the ever sunny afternoons, playing the banjo with various banjo luminaries, including BB in the early years of the 20th century in his 'Bath Chair' articles in the early 1960s. Essex mentions him as being a member of the CE Pierrots, BB played at Le Touquet with the troupe led by  Kate Moss of 'Floral Dance' fame. As you say, his omission from the player biographies is a situation which needs rectifying. I think that there is enough material scattered hither and thither to do the job it just needs tracking down and collating. I'm still getting my breath back from doing the Morley bio with Anthony Peabody and at present I am working on some very exciting new material to add to that project, otherwise I would take BB on myself.

If you have a look at the Pathe video of Raymonde's banjo band playing Blaze Away, I'm sure that BB is featured towards the end playing plectrum banjo. From his stance, It shows that he may have the deformity mentioned by Richard....Steve.

I see what you mean about posture.  But I think that banjo he's playing is a bass banjo,not to be confused with the contra-bass banjo beside him, The head on BB's banjo is too big to be a plectrum banjo. He's playing with a plectrum but so is the 5-string banjo player and the tenor players and the mandolin-banjo player.



Steve Harrison said:

If you have a look at the Pathe video of Raymonde's banjo band playing Blaze Away, I'm sure that BB is featured towards the end playing plectrum banjo. From his stance, It shows that he may have the deformity mentioned by Richard....Steve.

A few lines in the March 1910 Issue of The Cadenza (America's BMG) state " Master Bert Bassett, "the boy banjoist" of London, England, is filling many engagements at swell functions in "the big town across the water". His repertoire includes both popular and standard selections."

Tony or Richard, do you know whether Bert is short for Bertram or Albert,?  Do you know his middle name, date or place of birth? With a few data points to get started, I might turn up some info in a genealogical search.

Hi Shawn, I don't know whether or not it is Albert or Bertram but I'll try to find out, meanwhile here is the June 1937 obit from the B.M.G.

Shawn McSweeny said:

A few lines in the March 1910 Issue of The Cadenza (America's BMG) state " Master Bert Bassett, "the boy banjoist" of London, England, is filling many engagements at swell functions in "the big town across the water". His repertoire includes both popular and standard selections."

Tony or Richard, do you know whether Bert is short for Bertram or Albert,?  Do you know his middle name, date or place of birth? With a few data points to get started, I might turn up some info in a genealogical search.

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