Winifred Atwell

  • Real Name: Winifred Atwell
  • Birth Date: February 27th 1914
  • Birth Place: Trinidad
  • Winifred Atwell was an accomplished and versatile pianist who was idolised by the British public throughout the 1950s. She had studied the piano since she had been a small child although she later became trained as a dispenser in the expectation that she would be employed in her father's pharmacist shop. By the age of 30 she became aware that other local musicians had gained further musical training abroad and, encouraged by this, in 1945 she left for the USA.

    By the late 1940s she had gained a place at London's Royal Academy of Music with ambitions of becoming a concert pianist. However, in order to finance this initiative she worked during the evenings at London's clubs playing piano rags. By 1950 her popularity had spread nationally and she began recording with Decca during 1951- before the advent of any record sales 'chart'.

    Her music also worked well on TV where she made regular appearances. She would normally start her act by playing a classical piece on a grand before transferring herself to what she called 'my other piano' which was an old 'honky tonk' upright. It was on this that she recorded many of her most successful numbers including her two #1's and the now legendary 'Black And White Rag' which has been used as the signature tune of BBC's 'Pot Black' snooker programme for several decades.


    The 1958 EP shown here (DFE6464) was one of Winifred's most popular and finds her playing some chart favourites of the time on her honky tonk upright piano. This is just one of the myriad of EPs that were issued. They were a good choice for those of us that wanted a little more than you got with a single, but didn't want to pay the price of a long player.

    Despite her continued popularity, her record sales slumped at the end of the 1950s. She made several attempts, probably mistakenly, to revitalise her sales by pandering to popular trends like the 'Twist'. Her 'Tops In Pops' medley of 1960 included 'Seven Little Girls Sitting In the Back Seat', 'Oh! Carol' and even 'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans'.

    Winifred married a former comedian, Lew Levisohn, and as her recording career faded in the UK she and her husband emigrated to Australia. She began concentrating more heavily on Classical music than she had done in London and frequently toured with symphony orchestras. She continued to give well attended concerts up until the time of her retirement in 1978. Sadly, Winifred Atwell died during 1983.

    1950s & 1960s 45rpm UK Discography

    • Listings include UK 45 singles releases only
    • Note that Winifred had many earlier issues available only on 78rpm
    • Collector's Items are shown In Red

    Decca F10448 1955 Song Of The Sea/ The Black Mask Waltz  
    Decca F10476 1955 Big Ben Boogie/ Winnie's Waltzing Rag  
    Decca F10496 1955 17th Century Boogie/ Stranger In Paradise  
    Decca F10609 1955 The Ugly Duckling/ Brazilian Rhapsody  
    Decca F10634 1955 Let's Have A Ding-Dong Pt1./ Pt.2 #3
    Decca F10681 1956 Poor People Of Paris/ Piano Tuner's Boogie #1
    Decca F10727 1956 Port-Au-Prince/ Startime #18
    Decca F10762 1956 Left Bank/ Rampart Street Rock #14
    Decca F10785 1956 Bumble Boogie/ St. Louis Blues  
    Decca F10796 1956 Make It A Party Pt.1/ Pt.2 #7
    Decca F10825 1956 Garden Of Eden/ Moonlight Gambler  
    Decca F10852 1957 Let's Rock 'N' Roll Pt.1/ Pt.2 #24
    Decca F10886 1957 Spaceship Boogie/ Jane Street  
    Decca F10924 1957 Streets Of Sorento/ The Hope Waltz  
    Decca F10944 1957 Swedish Polka/ Tickle The Ivories  
    Decca F10956 1957 Let's Have A Ball Pt.1/ Pt.2 #4
    Decca F10987 1958 Raunchy/ Dugga Dugga Boom Boom  
    Decca F11015 1958 The Portrait Painters Of Paris/ Syncopated Sadie  
    Decca F11036 1958 At The Woodchopper's Ball/ Lazy Train  
    Decca F11073 1958 Let's Go Pt.1/ Pt.2  
    Decca F11088 1958 Golden Carol/ Christmas Morning  
    Decca F11097 1959 Lonely Piano/ Boy On A Carousel  
    Decca F11143 1959 Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll/ Hawaiian Cha Cha #24
    Decca F11170 1959 Amore Mio/ Candlewick  
    Decca F11183 1959 Piano Party Pt.1/ Pt.2 #10
    Decca F11195 1960 Rumpus/ Silver Shoes  
    Decca F11208 1960 Top In Pops Pt.1/ Pt.2  
    Decca F11226 1960 My Old Man's A Dustman/ Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be  
    Decca F11274 1960 Nicolette/ Melody In 'G'  
    Decca F11296 1960 Old Pi-Anna Party Pt.1/ Pt.2  
    Decca F11399 1961 Winnie's Piano Party Pt.1/ Pt.2  
    Decca F11454 1962 Johann's Twist/ Mexican Twist  
    Pye 7N15444 1962 Game Of Chance/ C'est L'Amour  
    Pye 7N15489 1962 Twist Party Pt.1/ Pt.2  
    Pye 7N15499 1963 Theme from 'War Lover'/ Pony Tail  
    Pye 7N15516 1963 Bossa Nova Boogie/ Mississippi Mud  
    Pye 7N15587 1963 Theme from 'The Cardinal'/ Nights In Jericho  
    CBS 202006 1965 Snow Bells/ Flea-Market Of Paris  
    CBS 202228 1966 Mexico City/ Late Call  
    CBS 202401 1966 Games That Lovers Play/ Suddenly It's Winter  
    Decca F12698 1967 Party 68 Pt.1/ Pt.2  
    Philips BF1789 1969 Oh What A Lovely War Pt.1/ Pt.2  

    Return to UK Artists Biography Index