Reginald Dixon MBE (1904 in
Sheffield – 1985) was a theatre
"Mr Blackpool" Dixon was best known as resident organist at
Tower Ballroom, where he played the Wurlitzer organ from 1930 until his
retirement in 1970, only interrupted by military service in the
Royal Air Force during the second
world war, when he attained the rank of Squadron Leader.
Sheffield on 16 October 1904 in very humble surroundings, his
first musical job was as pianist-cum-musical director at the
Stocksbridge Palace cinema, at £3 a week.
It was before the
“talkies” arrived, and every situation in a film had to have its
own mood music.
He was organist on the Wurlitzers of the West End Birmingham, the
Regent Dudley and in Preston before securing the job at the Tower
Ballroom, Blackpool, in 1930. Before the month was out he made the
first of over 2,000 broadcasts. Within a few years his records were
selling at the rate of 50,000 a year, and fan mail was arriving
from all over the world. His signature tune of “I do like to be
beside the seaside” was as well known as the Tower itself.
The present Wurlitzer installed at the Tower dates from 1935
(installation started in December 1934). After his arrival, Dixon
realised that the existing instrument was not powerful enough for
the massive ballroom. Dancers regularly complained that they could
not hear the instrument well, especially when the ballroom was
full. He set about persuading the management of the benefits of an
improved instrument. The new instrument was actually designed by
Reginald Dixon himself and (with a few updates) is the same
instrument still there today. The Wurlitzer company presented him
with a gold watch to mark the opening of the new 'Wonder
Wurlitzer', and in 1938 he was voted the UK's number one theatre
organist. His fee at this time was £2,000 per annum.
Dixon continued at the Tower until his retirement in 1970, when he
was succeeded by Ernest Broadbent. Sunday afternoon concerts
continued until 1976 when the current policy of all-day dancing was
introduced by the then Tower owners, EMI. A year later in 1977
Broadbent was succeeded as chief Tower organist by Phil Kelsall.
The original, smaller Wurlitzer was enlarged as a 'twin' and
installed in the Empress Ballroom Blackpool under the aegis of
Dixon's farewell tour lasted ten years after retirement from the
Tower Ballroom. He also had a successful recording and broadcasting
career spanning 50 years. Concerts had been arranged for 1981 but
he had become too ill to fulfil the engagements. His final recording
was released in 1981, made on the Wurlitzer Organ of the Thursford
Collection in Norfolk.
Reginald Dixon (Tower Organist) is not to be confused with Organist
Dr. J.H. Reginald Dixon F.R.C.O.
Dixon died on 9 May 1985 and was cremated at Carleton
The BBC TV
in episode Quarantine Arnold Rimmer
is taunting quarantined crew.
"I've got to organise your daily provision of musical
entertainment. I think you're going to like it: It's a
perpetually-looped tape of "Reggie Dixon's Tango Treats.""