SPRIG OF ACACIA LODGE No. 43
Eulogy for Edmundo given by W.Bro.Bernard Phillips
I first met Edmundo, when in 1986, a number of UK Freemasons residing in this area, wished to set up English speaking Masonic Lodges in Spain. Together with our wives, once a month we would meet at Benidoleig for the Men to discuss Masonic Business, and the Ladies to socialize over coffee and cakes. My instant impression was that here was an English Gentleman. More English than the English themselves. A stickler for etiquette and he epitomised what you expect of a Freemason.
It was at these meetings and at many social occasions that I learnt so much of his full and fascinating life.
Born on 7th December 1910, in Port of Spain, Trinidad, he became a typical teenage rebel and was shunted off to the Army where he played percussion in Military Bands. Obviously this was not entirely to his liking for at the age of 17 years he “Left” to go to Caracas to play as a timpanist in the Symphonic Orchestra of Venezuela
He Emigrated to UK in 1937, on a scholarship to study classical music at the Royal Academy of Music. His ambition was to study Law, but circumstances prevented this and I think to the benefit of the whole world.
Edmundo’s talent was recognised early on, as he was asked to play drums by Fats Waller at a recording session in 1938. He was so proud of this recognition, that he never cashed the cheque signed by Fats Waller himself. – and the family are still looking for it !!!
He established his own Rumba Band in the 40’s, cutting very successful records, and his performances at London Bagatelle and Coconut Grove Clubs, became the stuff of legend. His radio broadcasts for the BBC to South America brought a new dimension to his career, and he became a much enjoyed radio personality.
This “New Sound” during the depressing days of the war and immediately afterwards brought relief to the masses, and he became a favourite of the Royal Family, The Princesses (as they were at that time) dancing to his rhythms. During his career there were occasions when he was the soul of discretion thus enhancing his reputation.
Leaving the Bagatelle Club he opened his own Club renaming The Coconut Grove in Regent Street as “The Edmundo Ros Dinner and Supper Club”, It became an immediate success being the “in place” for everyone visiting London. He almost single-handedly introduced Rumba and Samba to the UK.
In his Illustrious career, he received countless awards and Honorary Fellowships, including the Freedom of the City of London- He was one of the few people entitled to drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge !!!
Edmundo retired in 1975 and he and Susie moved here to Javea. He played a farewell concert in 1994 with the BBC Concert Orchestra, and in 2000 he was awarded the OBE for services to Music which was presented by the Prince of Wales, who asked him where he could get a good dance ???
There is so much more to Edmundo, he was a very active member of the famous Grand Order of Water Rats, a charity supported by so many famous entertainers and which has achieved so much support to many. And to whom the family are so grateful
He became interested in Freemasonry in the 40’s when he became aware that many of his friends belonged to the Brotherhood. They in turn recognised his potentiality, His joining was not without incident and may I say, at another time this makes an interesting story. However under the sponsorship of a Charles Topper, he joined the Cheyne Lodge No. 4443 in London and went through the Chair in just 6 years.
Of course to belong to one Lodge only was not enough for Edmundo – he became a member and progressed through the Chairs of 5 other Craft Lodges – 2 Chapter Lodges – Rose Croix-
Mark and was an Honorary member of others. He was the Vice President of the Masonic Boys School, Life Governor of the Masonic Girls School, Grand Patron of the Masonic Hospital, Life Governor of the Masonic Benevolent Institute and so the list goes on.
He also received London Grand Rank.
He and I were Founder members of Sprig of Acacia Lodge, which was consecrated in 1989 and he went through the Chair in 1995, carrying out his ceremonies with the same aplomb as he did in his musical career. He became an Honorary Member of the Lodge in 1999. He received many Provincial Grand Honours
My personal highlights was when I witnessed the Installation of Douglas, his son, in the Chair of Poulters Lodge in the splendid surroundings of Poulters Hall London. The ceremony being entirely carried our by Edmundo.
He will be sadly missed by all that were touched by his music, kindness and friendship, plus of course all his Masonic Brethren.
Lastly I must thank Fred and the staff of the Benimeli Home for the kindness, care and dedication to Edmundo’s welfare during his stay.
What a Man !! What a Life !! – He will leave a void in so many of our lives, and I feel very privileged to have been amongst his circle of friends.
The following information is published in the Edmundo Ros Web Site
1910 – 2011
Edmundo Ros was born in Trinidad in December 1910. The family moved to Caracus, Venezuela. Edmundo’s musical career started in the army, then he became the tympanist in the Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. He moved to London in 1937 to continue classical studies, but popular music was to become his career. He played drums in Fats Waller recordings, played percussion and sang in Don Marino Barreto’s Cuban band and formed his five-piece Rumba Band in 1940, and the rest is history.
Edmundo’s Rumba Band with strange rhythms was a smash hit in London, although the Nazi bomb almost hit the club. His first recording for Parlophone was Record of the Month in June 1941 (Harlequin HQ CD 15). The contract with the famed Bagatelle Restaurant opened the doors for Ros to high society. All the leaders of Allied Countries and the Royal Family came there to dine and listen to Edmundo’s Rumba Band. In 1951 Edmundo bought the famous Coconut Grove and named it “Edmundo Ros Dinner and Supper Club”. Only those mentioned in “Who’s Who” were allowed in the club. The Club was world famous and the BBC had regular radio broadcasts there. In the late 1950’s Ros got a smart idea of recording Broadway musical melodies arranged to different Latin rhythms: the mambo, cha cha cha, rumba, samba, baion, bolero, valse creole, meringe, guaracha, and the conga. He also made a series of TV shows for the US and European markets. The 1960’s was the the peak of Edmundo Ros’ popularity and commercial success.
Edmundo retired in 1975 and moved with his wife Susan to Javea, Alicante, Spain, where he lived until his death on 21st October 2011.
In 1994 Edmundo conducted and sang with the BBC Big Band with Strings at The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. The other conductor was Stanley Black. The concert was broadcast over BBC Radio 2 and it was such a success that a Japanese recording company invited them into a recording studio in London to make yet another Edmundo Ros CD.
Edmundo Ros was awarded the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, in the 2000 New Year’s Honours List!
The Edmundo Ros Club
In 1951 Edmundo Ros bought a club in Regent Street, the Coconut Grove, which was very popular during the war. The address, 100 Regent Street was not quite right because the in-clubs at that time were in Mayfair. Ros changed names , and when it was finally Edmundo Ros’ Dinner and Supper Club, the stream of the right people and the Rolls-Royces turned there. Along came the BBC and the club became world famous.
Standards at the club were kept extremely high. Edmundo’s notebook included all the names of the British Royal Family, the nobility, the counts, the pears and dukes. These people and those mentioned in “Who’s Who” could get membership in to the club. The guests had also to be properly dressed. The Ladies coming from the tea party in Buckingham Palace were not allowed to wear their broad hats. When women began to wear trousers like men, Ros decided not to accept them
“Once a very well-known madame, the wife of Sir Cecil Hardwick, tried to enter the club dressed in pants. My reception had their orders, and she went to another night club very cross and hurt. She told everybody what an idiot Edmundo Ros was! There was a newspaper reporter listening and I got the biggest publicity you can think of:: a photo of her and the words: “Edmundo did not allow in…..marvellous! ” King Hussein of Jordan, a Latin music aficionado, with his party was denied entrance because one of his party, film star Peter O’Toole, was not properly dressed and did not accept the tie offered to him.”
Regular royal guests during the Club Era were Princess Margaret, Monaco’s Prince Rainier and Prince Bertil of Sweden.
The club had 24 musicians and 53 employees, one of which had polishing the silver as his sole job. Ros says that all those details–you could not smoke the pipe before twelve o’clock–made the difference, and it was terribly important in England. The business was excellent until 1965 when gambling became legal in England. Ros noticed the difference immediately in the takings and sold the club.
Affiliations and Honours
Ros was a Freeman of the City of London, having been admitted to the Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Poulters on 5 January 1965 and subsequently clothed with the Livery of the Poulters’ Company on 22 June 1965. He was a Freemason, imitated into the Chelsea Lodge No 3098 and a Founder Member and Worshipful Master of Lodge of Ascension No 7358. On retirement a member of Sprig of Acacia Lodge No 41, Javea, Spain.
Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music (1991).
In the 2000 New Year’s Honours List, Ros (then aged 90), was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). He turned 100 on 7 December 2010.