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Edmundo Ros OBE

Blue Collar Rat


Rat No. 641. Initiated on 4 October 1964

Proposer: Arthur Scott. Seconder: Ben Warriss

Edmundo was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad; the son of William Hope-Ros, the owner of a multipurpose store and Luisa Urquart, a teacher. Both his parents were also born in Trinidad. Edmundo was the eldest of four children and an illegitimate son, Hugo, who's birth caused his parents to separate. At 14 years old Edmundo joined the British Army as a bandsman. After three years as a drummer he left the army and moved to Venezuela where he stayed for a decade. He joined the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Vicente Emilio Sojo.

In 1937 he travelled to London where he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Music. Sadly his grant was insufficient for him to maintain a decent life style so he gigged with Don Marino Bareto and his Latin band. Following an overseas tour Bareto was not allowed back into Britain so Edmundo took charge of the Bareto Band at the Embassy Club. His next venue was at the St Regis Hotel Cork Street which had another band led by George Shearing. The Edmundo Ros Rumba Band then moved to the Coconut Grove. With his good looks and soft voice he attracted some of the high-flying ladies in the land. In fact when he moved to The Bagatelle, one of the finest restaurants in Britain, a high society divorce case named him as co-respondent. Happily, it was proved that he was not involved. During the 11 days of the case Edmundo did not say a word. The late Queen Mother was heard to remark "No, of course he did not say a single word, he is a gentleman, he is one of us". From that moment on Edmundo said "I became Senor Edmundo Ros".

Edmundo married his first wife, Britt Johansen in 1950. They had two children Douglas and Luisa. In 1951 Edmundo bought the Coconut Grove. His house rules stated that no one whose name did not appear in Debrett's could become a member. In fact his address book contained the names and phone numbers of the British Royal Family, nobility, counts, peers, dukes and those with power and influence. Ladies wearing large hats or trousers were also not admitted. By now Edmundo had become a household name with regular BBC broadcasts from the Coconut Grove and from The Golden Slipper Club, which in truth was a BBC studio, The Paris in Lower Regent Street. Edmundo then formed a partnership with the Arthur Murray School as an outlet for his Dance Academy in Leicester Square.

Certain Bandleaders who worked for the BBC were not allowed to present their own programmes because, either their accent was not good enough or they could not work unscripted. Edmundo was clear for both. He had taken great trouble from the day he arrived in England to cultivate a BBC accent. He was, in fact, a self-admitted snob and Royalist. Throughout his career Edmundo always ensured that his musicians were treated with the utmost respect but, like the clientele, they had to stick to the rules.

Edmundo married his second wife Susan Smith in 1971. In his illustrious career Edmundo has received countless awards and honorary fellowships including the Freedom of the City of London, and of Javea and Trinidad. He was also a member of the Chelsea Lodge of Freemasons

In 2000, at the age of 90 he was award an O.B.E. by the Queen.

Edmundo died peacefully in his home in Javea, with is wife and children around him
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