Charlie Kunz

Charlie Kunz, "the Medley King," was born in Allentown, PA, on August 8, 1896. His father was a master baker who blew the French horn. As a youngster Charlie played piano, church organ, and E-flat alto horn. In 1914 he switched from playing classical to popular dance music. He worked as a milkman, cobbler, ribbon weaver, bookseller, and mechanic. During the First World War he was a boiler riveter and a bombshell builder. By the age of 19 Charlie Kunz was leading his first band and opening for Paul Whiteman and Vincent Lopez at a ballroom in Allentown. He came to England in 1921 with a group led by percussionist Ed Krick. The following year he led Paul Specht's Criterions at the Trocadero Restaurant in Piccadilly. Remaining in England after his friends had all gone home, Kunz formed his first all-British band and began performing at the Lyons Corner House in Piccadilly Circus. He then expanded his ensemble to 14 pieces and played the Grafton Galleries. Kunz sat in on piano with the Dix Band at the Olympia Dance Hall in West Kensington and tickled the ivories at Ma Merrick's 43 Club, an infamous sporting house and all-night den of iniquity operating on Gerrard Street, Piccadilly. Kunz then played the Chez Henri Club in Long Acre, found it to his liking, and stayed on for eight and a half years.