MAESTRO OF THE THEATRE ORGAN and occasionally,
the piano, WILBUR
KENTWELL, 1914-1981, ex-Parramatta High School
student. Wilbur's many albums include the Echoes
of Hollywood series Columbia, MGM, RKO,
1914 - 1981
MAESTRO OF THE THEATRE ORGAN
12th June, 2019
A page on the Collecting Books and
Magazines web site based in
Wilbur died on the night of 8th February, 1981.
This page attempts to document some aspects of
his life, and his record releases over the 1947
to 1981 period.
Covers and Recordings
Now on a
Biographical details appear
? = Details to be confirmed.
details (ref notes in brackets
refer to record cover).
* Wilbur was born 29th January,
1914, at Castle Hill, NSW. (DPW.1 ref)
* Studied the piano under Miss Lillian Harvey.
* Had a pivot-tooth? ( Bes McDonald ref)
* Wilbur began studying the organ at age 8, began
playing the pipe organ at his Castle Hill, NSW,
parish at age 12.
* Attended Parramatta High School 1927-32 (?),
may have repeated first year in 1928 (Bes
* First played the Wurlitzer organ at Sydney's
Prince Edward Theatre at age 14. (?)
* Organist at the New Lambton Theatre, Newcastle,
at the outbreak of WW2.
* During WW2, Sergeant Kentwell served as a Film
Projectionist in the A.I.F.
* After the war played theatre organs at the
Vogue, Double Bay and the Trocadero, with Abe
Romain's orchestra. (DPW.1 ref)
* Musical Director at Sydney radio station 2GB,
also worked at 2CH on the Humphrey Bishop Show.
Worked with, among others, Larry Adler, Joe E
Brown, Anne Ziegler, Webster Booth and George
* Worked on the Jack Davey Show. Note there is a
mention of Wilbur in 'Davey's Back!', an article
in the AUSTRALASIAN
POST dated 11 November, 1954.
* Composed atmospheric music for radio plays and
serials. (7564 ref)
* Musical Director of television station TVQ
(QTQ) in Brisbane, appointed August, 1959. (31664
* Played (? organ or piano) at the Regal
Restaurant in Brisbane.
* People who worked with Wilbur apart from those
mentioned elsewhere on this page, gleaned from
album covers, include the following. John
Stevenson and Don Savage (TVQ), Howell Whitehouse
(The Organ Centre, Brisbane), Alan Watson
(O'Donnell-Griffen, Brisbane), Ron Wills, John
Taylor, David Woodley-Page (RCA ?), Reg Robinson
(on string bass), Cyril Bevan and Alan Geddes (on
drums), Johnny Edgecombe (on guitar), Ken Hannam
* First solo artist in Australia to make a
Microgrove recording and use the multiple track
technique (7564 ref).
* Met Richard Rodgers in New York on April 1st,
1971, during a tour of the USA and the United
* Wife, Fay, and daughter, Carole Ann (DPW.1 ref,
then living at Elizabeth Bay).
Special thanks to Phil Paterson of
the Central Coast Swing Music Society who very
kindly supplied me with information and a pile of
photocopied album covers back in 1991, Mrs Bes
Macdonald who came up with the Parramatta High
first form school photograph from 1928 and Stephen
Fleay for his recent information, two fine photos
Parramatta High School, Sydney, 1st year, 1928
Wilbur Kentwell and Eric
Wynne on Double Bass, possibly on
Channel 9's Brisbane Tonight Show, 1960s.
** Note below
Frances Wynne, 2006:
I have been going through all my family
photo's and scanning them to the computer.
Amongst them I found the attached photo of Wilbur
Kentwell and my father Eric Wynne on Double Bass
(although the bass can't be seen). The photo
appears to be taken while they were playing in
the band on Channel 9's Brisbane Tonight Show. I
can't remember the year that the show was running
but sometime in the 60's I think. ... I have a
vague recollection that it was Wilbur Kentwell
who played the organ at the Regents Theatre in
Brisbane possibly in the 1940's or early 1950's.
... Eric Wynne was a well known bass player in
Brisbane during the 50's and 60's and was the
bass player with bands that supported various
overseas entertainers. Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley
Bassey, Johnny Ray, Tommy Hopper to name a few.
... Eric died in December 1976 from cancer.
Many thanks for your recollections and the
Stephen Fleay, 2007
Hi John; delighted to see your page about
Wilbur Kentwell... I met him on a number of
occasions in the early sixties.....one time at
QTQ channel 9, and several times when he visited
the Palm Beach Hotel (Gold Coast) and played my
Lowrey Holiday Organ.
Recordings were made, and some have survived
reasonably well.....Will attach an almost
complete version of "I've got Rhythm"
which has been run thru the restoration programme
I do not believe Wilbur played theatre organs in
Brisbane in the 40's and 50's. He was most
prominent as Organist for the (Sydney based)Jack
Davey radio shows during the 1950's....and
certainly did perform on Sydney theatre
organs......some info on this in the Australian
Theatre Organ web sites.
Your page has given added impetus to restore
these Lowrey Organ recordings......Wilbur also
sings some "oldies"....with reaction
from a lively late night audience at the Palm
Beach Hotel. I'll also scan a cuppla photos for
you.....to be continued.
Thanks for the MP3 recordings, Stephen, and
the two great photos. Details under the first
Queensland circa 1964. Wilbur had friends in show
Carol's Varieties. (I was organist for this show
in '63 and '64). Wilbur played for an ANZAC
service outside and also posed for a picture with
myself and a Lowrey Organ banner. As Wilbur was a
Hammond exponent at the time, it was good for
Lowrey Organs. I ended up with a Hammond, and
have the large Hammond Elegante in the house. It
was acquired in Europe and sadly there are no
qualified people in Indonesia to service it. -
|From Ade Gregg, 2008
Hi, Just saw your fab page on Mr. Kentwell;
filled in a bit of history for me, let me say. I
used to know a fellow who recorded him in
Newcastle and I restored his 10 inch LP
"Australia" by again Mr Kentwell;
interested? / I have also transfered a heap of
Wilbur's 78's which you do not have on your list
(at least 2 or more!) / I'm an audio Enginner and
would love to help in any way to bring back the
sound of Mr Kentwell in any way possible. / In
fact I've started a blog and have a 78 restored
The Continental (I know its a popular disc!) the
next one will be the Annie get your gun and the
Thanks, Ade Gregg
Oh BTW my page is at http://www.ade42.blogspot.com
Wilfred HÝsteland (Bergen, Norway) 2008 email@example.com
can't help, but hopefully someone reading this
will contact you.
From David, May, 2011.
I just did a random search and found your post.
Can I just say that I was totally 'gobsmacked' to see the photo of Wilbur Kentwell, playing the organ in the Rotunda in Millmerran. I was there that Anzac day, just a kid in the crowd, but I'll never forget it.
As time passed and I found myself in Brisbane, I met up with Wilbur and we became friends. In conversation, I mentioned the Anzac Day in Millmerran and he told me about how he came to be there, but I am totally stoked to have seen this photo. This is brilliant.