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The Band that Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic

The Band that Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic [Kindle Edition]

Steve Turner
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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“They kept it up to the very end. Only the engulfing ocean had power to drown them into silence. The band was playing ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee.’ I could hear it distinctly. The end was very close.” —CHARLOTTE COLLYER, TITANIC SURVIVOR

The movies, the documentaries, the museum exhibits. They often tell the same story about the “unsinkable” Titanic, her wealthy passengers, the families torn apart, and the unthinkable end. But never before has “that glorious band”—the group of eight musicians who played on as the Titanic slipped deeper and deeper into the Atlantic Ocean—been explored in such depth. Steve Turner’s extensive research reveals a fascinating story including dishonest agents, a clairvoyant, social climbers, and a fraudulent violin maker. Read what brought the band members together and how their music served as the haunting soundtrack for one of modern history’s most tragic maritime disasters.


 The Band that Played On by Steve Turner is, surprisingly, the first book since the great ship went down to examine the lives of the eight musicians who were employed by the Titanic. What these men did?standing calmly on deck playing throughout the disaster?achieved global recognition. But their individual stories, until now, have been largely unknown. What Turner has uncovered is a narrow but unique slice of history?one more chapter of compelling Titanic lore.

Turner, a music journalist, pursued living relatives of the band members and squeezed all that he could out of “inherited photographs, documents, and anecdotes” enabling him to sketch brief but poignant portraits of eight young (or at least youngish) men, all born in an optimistic era and all members of the rising middle class. To their parents, their girlfriends, and surely to themselves as well, the future must have seemed bright right up until the early morning hours of April 15, 1912…

There is much that we do not know about the final hours of these men. Why did they make the decision to play on the deck that night? What was in their hearts and minds? …

Even the Titanic survivors who witnessed their final performance quibbled over some details. Did the band march or did they kneel? Was their last number “Autumn” or was it “Nearer, My God, to Thee”? Did they stop playing during the final moments and pack their instruments away or were they still playing as the ship went down? All agreed, however, that all eight band members behaved with remarkable calm and courage. Within hours of the ship’s sinking, their story was circulating and they had already become heroes…

For Turner, however, the undisputed hero of the book is Wallace Hartley, a fine musician with religious conviction and a powerful sense of duty who seems most likely to have been the force behind those final hours of heroism. In the last pages of the book, Turner reveals a surprising Hartley discovery?a turn of events which makes a fine ending for his worthy book, even as it leaves us hopeful that the Titanic may yet have a few mysteries she is willing to give up.
—Marjorie Kehe, Book Editor, Christian Science Monitor

This detailed and sympathetic portrait of the bandsmen will be appreciated by Titanic enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Steve Turner's new book admirably fills a gap in Titanic literature. There are few good books on the subject of Titanic and, until now, none on the band itself. Steve's impressive depth of research has allowed him to vividly flesh out the stories of each of the band members and he has set these narratives in a fascinating social, political, cultural and religious context. I only wish Steve's book had been around when I was researching Wallace Hartley for my role in James Cameron's movie!
—Jonathan Evans-Jones, who played band leader Wallace Hartley in the film Titanic.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3565 KB
  • Print Length: 270 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1595552197
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (22 Mar 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Q7CMLI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #362,146 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Band That Played On 19 April 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Almost everyone, with any awareness of the story of the Titanic, have heard about the band that played on while the ship was going down. It is a story enshrined with heroism and self sacrifice. However, very little is known about the men themselves and I doubt many, but real Titanic enthusiasts, could name the musicians. Steve Turner does a wonderful job of bringing these men vividly to life: Wallace Hartley, Percy Taylor, Wes Woodward, Fred Clarke, Roger Bricoux, Theo Brailey, Georges Krins and John Law (Jock) Hume.

In fact, there was not one band on the Titanic, but two - a three piece and a five piece band. They were booked through C W & F N Black, in Liverpool and, although some members knew each other, they had not all played together before. The fact the musicians were booked through the Blacks was an important point, as they hired and sourced musicians for cruiseships and it meant that the members were not covered by insurance as they were not employees of the shipping line, not were they covered by the Workmens Compensation Act. It also meant that they were not obliged to play as the ship was sinking, as they were not ships crew, although opinions differ as to whether they were asked to play to maintain discipline and avert panic, or whether they simply expected that they should do so.

After the Titanic disaster, the musicians and their bravery and sacrifice, was a perfect media package. They were ordinary men, but showed outstanding courage and they were widely said to have been playing the hymn "Nearer, My God, To Thee" as the ship went down, giving a signature tune to memorial services around the world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars playing beyond the call of duty 7 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a Titanic buff, I thought "The Band played on" would be an ok addition to my growing Titanic library. I was very pleasantly surprised at the detail and the background story of each of the musicians and found myself engrossed very quickly.
It may have something to do with my english (Yorkshire ) background, but I thought the author did a really top job of describing the life and times of the peoples and towns and the hardships and goals. A warmly written and well researched book.
A welcome piece for all Titanic scholars and the for those interested in early 20th century life
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Titanic - the boys they forgot 1 Sep 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting book as it is very informative about the poor bandsmen who have not really been
documented in the many previous books. It was of great interest to me as one of the violin players was my
great uncle. I learned a lot about him and our family of which I knew little. I have read the other players
stories and they are all very interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this
tragic story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars the band htat played on 24 May 2013
By bernie
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good but i found that in places it was a bit long winded otherwise it was a good read about what happened
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