Gordon Stretton

a study in multiple identities


  • Jeff Daniels Author
  • Howard Rye Author




acculturation, African diaspora, Argentinian jazz, black-cast show, British Jazz, French jazz, Orchestre Syncopated Six, Gordon Stretton


A Liverpudlian of mixed Jamaican and Irish ancestry, William Masters, born in 1887, provides a fascinating study of a member of the African diaspora seeking and finding an artistic identity. After membership of a Lancashire clog-dancing troupe, he adopted a stage name, Gordon Stretton, in tribute to an Edwardian music-hall artist, then learnt to be a jazz drummer under the tutelage of visiting African-American musician Billy Dorsey. Stretton’s varied career subsequently took him to France and Argentina. He exemplifies the manner in which members of the African diaspora of very varied backgrounds were sucked into currently prestigious North American idioms.

Author Biographies

  • Jeff Daniels

    Jeff Daniels is Gordon Stretton’s great-nephew. His mother Veronica was the fourth daughter of Gordon’s brother Henry and Helen née Clemence. He has for many years been collecting information on Gordon from family and other sources and working to restore Gordon to his rightful place in the history of Liverpool culture.

  • Howard Rye

    is an independent scholar of African-American music. He is co-author of the current edition of Blues & Gospel Records 1890–1943, the standard blues discography. He was principal researcher for The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz and is a member of the editorial team of Names & Numbers.


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How to Cite

Daniels, J., & Rye, H. (2010). Gordon Stretton: a study in multiple identities. Popular Music History, 4(1), 77-90. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.v4i1.77