business, singing and tap-dancing in the local Working Men's Clubs and at the age of 6, started taking piano lessons. For her ninth birthday she was given her first saxophone, a curved soprano, switching to alto two years later

Her first professional engagement, in 1949, was with the Royal Kiltie Junior Orchestra for a year, before joining her father's band which was now resident at the Pier Ballroom, Redcar.

In February,1952 she had her first spell with Ivy Benson's All Girls Orchestra as a deputy on lead alto for a six week tour of Germany, joining the band on a permanent basis on December 31st. at the Chelsea Arts Ball.

The next two and a half years were spent touring Europe and the Middle East, interspersed with theatres, one night stands and resident seasons at Lyon's Corner House, Marble Arch, London. In 1955, the band was booked for the summer season to play afternoon concerts in the Winter Gardens, Douglas, Isle of Man, and to play for dancing opposite the Joe Loss Orchestra in the Villa Marina Ballroom in the evening. It was here that she met her husband-to-be, the 2nd. Alto with Joe's band, jazz soloist Johnny Rogers; they married ten days later.

In order to settle down and start a family, they both gave up touring in the autumn of 1955 and joined Danny Mitchell's band in Redcar, remaining with him for eleven years, until ill-health caused Danny to retire. They then freelanced in Middlesbrough's thriving nightclub scene and also accompanied several shows at the Billingham Forum. Their last engagement was with John's band, which was resident for two years at the Hotel York in Redcar. They then sold their Redcar house and bought a small farm in Lealholm near Whitby, North Yorkshire, where they reared beef cattle and ran a small flock of sheep on the adjoining moor. At the time of going to press (May 2005) they are still there but have retired from farming.

Irene Mitchell

played Alto Sax
1949 to 1955
Irene was born on May 11th. May, 1933 in Stainforth near Doncaster. Her father, Danny Mitchell was a coal miner and part-time pianist/bandleader who retired from the coal industry after the War to become a professional musician. From the age of five Irene got her first experience of the entertainment

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