Saturday, April 21, 2018

Our Honeymoon

The 4 Bees

GEMS 3/4
Lacytown, Georgetown
British Guiana
US pressing?

Lead singer on this record is probably Gloria Beaton, wife of Norman Beaton.

During the 1950s Lacytown was one of the most musically creative spaces in the Guiana colony; Al Seales was one of entrepreneurs who ran their business in a single block in the Lacytown bordered by Robb Street, Wellington Street, Regent Street and King Street.  Also located in that block was Freedom House, the headquarters of the Peoples' Progressive Party [..] and "Point".  "Point" was at the corner of King and Regent Street and was the venue where independant musicians were hired by bandleaders for temporary assignments

Al Seales started his working life as a sailor on the Demerara River and was given a quatro by an Amerindian man. From the quatro he graduated to the banjo and joined the Washboard Orchestra in the 1920s.

As he acquired seniority and became a leader in the band, he took up the saxophone. His tutor was Gun Fernandez. Seales’ love for music was multidimensional. One of his first entrepreneurial ventures was a beer garden that featured a record player and a collection of contemporary jazz and pop records “which he got from old friends who were still working on ships coming from North America and Europe.”

This feature attracted a loyal clientele who constantly offered to buy the record player and the records. Seales, the entrepreneur who never drank or smoked, saw a business opportunity and a way to get out of selling alcohol. He opened General Electrical Musical Supplies (GEMS) at 40 Robb Street. After a few years, he purchased the property, which has remained in the Seales family since. Over the years the business grew from selling records and musical instruments to include a recording studio. Seales never established a pressing plant, so, his recordings were pressed by Melodisc in the United Kingdom.

Norman Beaton (1934 -1994), born in Georgetown, Guyana (then British Guiana), the son of a postmaster who became the country's chief postmaster, went to public school and teacher-training college before teaching there, rising to the post of deputy headmaster at a school in Demerara. At the same time, he followed his love of calypso music by forming the Four Bees vocal group and making 20 singles. The group toured Surinam and French Guyana with the revue Caribbean Cavalcade and Beaton himself was named Calypso Champion of Guyana.   Leaving Guyana for London in 1960, he landed a job as a teacher in Liverpool, becoming the first black teacher to be employed by the Liverpool Education Authority.

Further reading:
Musical Life in Guyana: History and Politics of Controlling Creativity, by Vibert C. Cambridge

1 comment:

  1. Norman Beaton was better known in Britain as an actor, starring in the popular TV comedy Desmonds, as well as appearing in many other TV shows, on stage and in films