Cruising to the music

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EVER since he started music lessons at school, Bob Malinowski was determined to make it his career.

The Nottingham-born father of three landed his first professional job on bass guitar in 1967 at the Oxford Galleries Ballroom in Newcastle and he has never looked back since.

In 1968 he joined the Queen Elizabeth for its final year of Transatlantic crossings and Caribbean cruises.

Crossing the pond gave Bob an amazing opportunity - to study double bass in New York with renowned musician David Izenson.

He said: “New York was fantastic - an absolute haven of music. It was everywhere you went.

“The reason a lot of musicians went onto cruise ships was to get to New York.”

In 1969 Bob transferred to the QE2 for sea trials, its maiden voyage and then a year of cruising.

On board he met his wife Lyn, a ship’s purser, who was responsible for running the clerical side of things, including embarcation.

Bob said: “Cruising was a fantastic experience and the Caribbean was very pleasant!

“On the ship there were about 25 musicians of a very high standard and I was mixing with them and learning all the time.

“It couldn’t have been better.”

After touring Europe together, Bob and Lyn got married in Geneva and settled there for a while.

Lyn was working for the United Nations and Bob played ski resorts during the winter and hotels in Geneva and Lausanne during the summers.

He also studied music at The Conservatoire and during that time played to many stars including Charlie Chaplin, Bing Crosby, David Niven and Elizabeth Taylor.

The couple then moved to Japan for a year and Bob played in Tokyo’s top club, the Copacabana.

This was followed by a stint in Hong Kong, during which time they witnessed the sinking of the Queen Elizabeth after it caught fire in the harbour.

Bob explained: “The ship had been bought by a Chinese multi-millionaire who was refurbishing it to put it back into service.

“We went to his offices and told them I’d worked on there. We were taken on board for a day and treated like royalty.

“But the next day we saw the ship go up. It turned out I was the last original crew member to have been on it before it sank.

“It was so sad - it was such a beautiful ship.”

In 1973 the couple moved back to Geneva and their first son, Stefan, was born. He followed in his father’s footsteps and is now a musician in Oman.

But it was in 1974 that Bob had his first taste of Scarborough, thanks to the first of many summer seasons at the Floral Hall.

He said: “It was a fantastic time. The Floral Hall, Spa, Futurist and Opera House were packed out for every show and musicians were coming here from all over the country.

“There was also a lot of live music in hotels too.”

Bob recalls the “close-knit, family atmosphere” of the Floral Hall and how sorry he was to see it go.

“The atmosphere in there was fantastic and it was such a shame to see it close,” he said.

At the end of the 1974 season Bob joined Gene Pitney on tour, travelling around the UK, Australia and New Zealand doing stadium gigs.

Bob and Lyn’s second son, Nick, was born in 1975 and the family settled in Scarborough in 1978, having fallen in love with the town. Nick now lives in London and works as an actor, having appeared in a number of theatre and TV shows including Dr Who.

And in 1982 the couple had a daughter, Lisa, who became a professional dancer in the UK and abroad and is now a beauty therapist at the Verbena Spa in Helmsley.

Bob says his career highlights of the 1970s and 1980s include two Royal Variety Shows at the London Palladium, many TV and radio broadcasts and several trips to entertain British Forces abroad.

He said: “One of the most interesting trips was to Belize. We were taken by helicopter into the middle of the jungle.

“We were in the middle of nowhere and it was all very makeshift.”

Since settling in Scarborough Bob has played many summer seasons in theatres with stars such as Les Dawson, Les Dennis, Michael Barrymore, Lenny Henry, Peters & Lee, Jimmy Tarbuck, the Nolans and Ken Dodd.

He has run jazz clubs at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and Central Hotel, which is now Beiderbeckes, and played for many years with the George Bradley Big Band.

In 2004, following the death of Geoff Laycock, Bob reformed the Geoff Laycock Big Band which has been running ever since.

The 19-piece band is still going strong, but is struggling to find venues of the right size, so Bob says he would welcome any offers or suggestions.

He is currently involved in Jazz Legend, an eight-piece band which includes three members of the Spa Orchestra.

The band performs shows with narrations, each one covering particular periods of swing music. These include the Life and Music of Frank Sinatra which took place on Sunday and the George Gershwin Story, which will be held at Beiderbeckes on February 27.

Bob also plays at the hotel with his own trio in Marmalade’s Restaurant and has also been involved with various bands at the Cotton Club, which has just restarted for 2011 at the Grand Hotel.

These events involve dancing to live music and have proved very successful.

Bob and Lyn are also well known in Scarborough for running Kaleidoscope Pram Shop since 1979.

It has been based at various locations around Scarborough over the years and has been in Somerset Terrace for the last 16 years.

Bob said: “We’re seeing different generation of the same family coming in now, which makes me feel old!

“We get grandparents coming in who bought prams for their own children from the shop, which is really nice.”

When Bob isn’t busy with the shop and his music he also loves motorbike touring, especially out on the Moors.

He fell for the Scarborough area years ago and says he is so glad he settled here, with everything it has to offer - not least the lively music scene.