The Warburton Arms

In 1952, Art was searching for his next adventure and much to the disappointment of his many fans decided to retire from show business and become a publican. He bought "The Warburton Arms" ( now known as London Fields ) an east end pub in Hackney, London.

(Art behind the bar at The Warburton Arms)

Art had been away from his mother and father for nearly 30 years and soon after he bought the pub in Hackney, his father died. In 1954, determined not to let his mother die without seeing her again, Art sold the pub and moved back to Canada with his wife Maisie and son Art Jr.


Canada 1954

After returning to Canada, Art performed a great deal around Kingston and Toronto with his own band from 1955 to 1958 when he decided to try his hand at teaching music at the high school level. He moved to Blind River, Ontario, again with his wife Maisie and young Art, and taught until his death in 1961 in both Blind River, Ontario and Elliot Lake, Ontario. Although Art was enjoying his new teaching career a great deal, he still had the desire and drive to play. This time he played in and around Elliot Lake, Ontario and for the first time his son Art Jr. was at his side. The experience of playing with his 15 year old son was the biggest thrill Art had ever experienced in his entire musical career. This experience was short lived however. Art died a year later.

Art conducting Napanee Concert Band

Art with students shortly before his death


The CODA

This is how Melody Maker Magazine announced Art's death in 1961


Art Christmas, dead at 55

Art Christmas

1905-1961

"Art Christmas, Britains leading sax and multi instrumentalist during the 1930's and 1940's, died in his home in Blind River, Ontario, Canada from a massive heart attack. He passed away on September 24th, 1961. Art will best be remembered by his many fans and listeners from his days with the renowned Roy Fox Band(1933-1938) and the Jack Payne Band(1940-1945), and for his appearance as a multi instrumentalist in the show "For The Fun Of It", which toured Britain in the late 1940's. During the late 1930's and 1940's, Art was probably the most sought after jazz musician in Britain and Europe for his versatility, virtuoso style and his rhythmic and harmonic sophistication, all of which were far ahead of his time. Art left behind his wife Maisie, 16 year old son Arthur John and his mother Mary Jane (Hamilton) Christmas of Kingston, Ontario. Art is also remembered fondly by his mother and father-in-law Lillian and John Bonner of Brighton, England. At the time of his death Art was employed as a music teacher for the Blind River District High School and The Elliot Lake District High School in Northern Ontario. He was 55 years of age.

Melody Maker Magazine

October, 1961

 


Through his playing, conducting and teaching over the years, Art influenced the lives of thousands of fans, listeners, friends, acquaintances and students. When he died, a part of our music scene died with him...Art was indeed a "consummate musician". He was 55 when he died of a massive heart attack in Blind River, Ontario, Canada.

Art's legacy lived on through his son Art Jr.(now retired), who became one of Canada's most influencial and successful musicians, music educators, and conductors. His legacy continues to live on today through his grandson Jeff Christmas who is a prominent composer, arranger, conductor and performer in Canada.

A montage of Art Sr., his son Art Jr. and his grandson Jeff on the drums.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3

Links

Jeff Christmas..........Art Christmas

British Dance Bands #1.....British Dance Bands #2


Sources

Canadian National Archives Library - Ottawa, Canada

Who's Who of British Jazz - by John Chilton

The Lost History of Jazz In Canada (Such Melodious Racket)- by Mark Miller

Memory Lane No. 45 - New Prince's article written by Vince Egan

British Dance Bands On Record - by Brian Rust and Sandy Forbes

Discography of German Dance Music - by Horst Lange

Max Bygraves, I Wanna Tell Ya A Story - by Max Bygraves

The Dance Band Era - by Albert McCarthy

Hollywood, Mayfair and All That Jazz - by Roy Fox

Rhythm Magazine - caricature by Slade

Melody Maker Magazine

Mike Thomas

John A.B. Wright

Gene Miller