Ray Ellington was born of an American father and Russian mother in London on 17 March 1916. On leaving school, at fourteen, he joined his uncle's business as an apprentice cabinet maker. Meantime, he took up the drums and started accepting gigs with various small groups; in addition, his distinctive vocal contributions went down very well.
His big break came in January 1937 when he joined Harry Roy and His Orchestra as the band's drummer, replacing Joe Daniels. His vocal talents were put to good use too, from the time of his first session when he recorded "Swing for Sale." Through records and many radio broadcasts, the name of Ray Ellington began to become known in many households across the country. Come the war, Ray was called up in the spring of 1940 when he joined the RAF as a physical training instructor.
On his demobilization, Ray resumed his career, initially working in small groups led by Tito Burns. After a while he fronted his own be-bop group, playing at the Bag O'Nails club. Early in 1947, he rejoined the Harry Roy band for a few months.
The Ray Ellington Quartet evolved when Ray joined the Caribbean Trio, a touring group comprising Dick Katz on piano, Lauderic Cayton on guitar and Coleridge Goode on bass. Their concert debut took place on Sunday 7 December 1947 when they appeared on one of Ted Heath's London Palladium Swing Sessions. In addition to radio and television broadcasts (TV having resumed, having been so rudely interrupted by the war), a recording contract with Parlophone was secured. It is thanks to many of Ray's Parlophone, Decca and Columbia records made between 1948 and 1955 that we are able to enjoy here forty varied and entertaining sides.* There were a few personnel changes within the quartet over the years from May 1949; Lauderic Cayton was the first to go (he was replaced by Laurie Deniz)
For the last decade of his life, Ray Ellington continued to lead small groups. He played at the exclusive White Elephant Club in Chelsea and enjoyed a long-term residency at the prestigious London Hilton "Roof Top" restaurant in Park Lane. Ray Ellington died on 27 February 1985, three weeks short of his 69th birthday.