Hooley's decision to leave Ambrose made the Gramophone news.
by Albert Haim
Hooley joined Ambrose's orchestra at the May Fair Hotel on Oct 18, 1928.
The Gramophone issue of Sep 1931 had the following item:
New faces for Ambrose's orchestra
I hear Ambrose has a new saxophone in the person of Billy Arnstell to whose clever playing I have called attention in previous issues. He comes from Roy Fox's band and replaces Jack Shields as 2nd alto. There was also talk of the 2nd trumpet, Radcliffe, being replaced by Nat Gonella, also from Roy Fox's band; but Roy had a talk to Nat and well that was that.
Stop Press.-- Just as we are going to press I hear that Sylvester Ahola, Ambrose's American first trumpet, has left suddenly and unexpectedly for his home in America and is not expected to return to this country. Private difficulties are said to be the reason. Max Goldberg has been engaged to take his place.
Dick Hill does not reveal any particular reasons for Hooley to leave Ambrose and return to the US. Perhaps, the following helps to understand.
From Sylvester Ahola - The Gloucester Gabriel" by Dick Hill.
Apparently, at this time, Ambrose dissolved his orchestra and hired a number of new musicians. Hooley and Saina sailed to the US on Aug 14, 1931, on the SS Bremen. Dick Hill writes, "While they were sailing back to New York, news of another thumpeter's death reached them on boad ship. On Aug 6th, it was reported that Bix Beiderbecke had died. Hooley said, "We heard about that on the trip, and it was a sad time-and not only for the leaving of England. I lost many good friends, one way or another, during that year."
Maybe Hooley was a bit sad at having lost several friends, his time with Ambrose had been very relaxed and he had made several friends, in particular the other trumpet player in the band Dennis Ratcliffe. Maybe, it just was time to go home ...
The last recording of Hooley with Ambrose: I'm An Unemployed Sweetheart, June 19, 1931.