Syncopating Sandy – marathon piano man

In 1957 Syncopating Sandy came to Aylesbury. Sandy (otherwise James Strickland, or Strickleton) built a reputation as an endurance piano player, travelling the country trying to set records for playing the piano without a break. He seems to have been at it for quite a while – there are reports from as early as 1932 of him playing for 78 hours (three days and four nights) to claim a world record.

In Aylesbury, in June 1957, he was attempting to play non-stop for 133 hours – starting at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 17th and finishing on Saturday, June 22nd, at 11 p.m.

Tickets were on sale from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day – and “press and police at all times”.

Syncopating Sandy ad

The Bucks Herald report and printed some photos:

Syncopating Sandy pics

and was able to report on his success, along with photos of a packed crowd of nearly 1,500 there to see him succeed.

Syncopating Sandy report 2

The report tells us that after completing the record attempt, Sandy walked out to the Market Square where “Hundreds of people were lining the streets, and the scene was reminiscent of a football cup final. In the Square people took up the chant: “We want Sandy”. As he came into view the spectators cheered and cheered. Dozens of policemen were on duty controlling the crowds.”

Sync Sandy

He was back at the Grosvenor Ballroom the following Friday to take the applause, alongside the usual dancing with Eddie Friday and his Orchestra.

Sync Sandy ad

There were persistent rumours whether he did, indeed, contine to play for the duration of these record attempts. Sandy’s efforts were never recorded in the Guiness Book of Records as his performances did not have sufficient impartial umpires to meet the requirements. But whatever the truth, he filled theatres with people eager to witness the spectacle.

Syncopating Sandy – Harrogate

Years later, Gerry Rafferty wrote a song about him, which appeared on the Snakes and Ladders album.

Gerry Rafferty – Sycopatin’ Sandy

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