Endorsee - Jack Parnell

John Russell 'Jack' Parnell, drummer, bandleader and musical director, born 6 August 1923; died 8 August 2010. Jack had a long association with the Ajax drum company having been an endorsee since the 1940s. He appears as an Endorser in the English Rogers catalogues of 1961, 1963/64 and 1964/65 and is mentioned by name in the 1967/68 catalogue.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Jack was voted best drummer in the Melody Maker poll for seven years in succession. He formed his own 12-piece line-up in 1951 and a 16-piece line-up in 1955. He composed many television themes, including The Golden Shot, Family Fortunes and Love Story (for which he won the Harriet Cohen Award). Those of us who grew up in the UK in the 1960s will remember the long running Sunday evening TV program “Sunday Night at the London Palladium” where Jack and his orchestra where the house band.

In 1973, he became the first British musician to win an Academy Award, for the Barbra Streisand television special produced for ATV.

Jack was appointed musical director for ATV in 1956, a post he held until 1981, and served as the 'real' conductor for The Muppet Show orchestra for the entire series.
In the 1970s he formed the group The Best of British Jazz with Don Lusher, Kenny Baker, Tony Lee, Betty Smith and Tony Archer, which performed until 1985.

Jack Parnell has three sons (including Ric Parnell who, among many other credits, played drummer Mick Shrimpton in the movie "This Is Spinal Tap" and was also played with the 70s rock band Atomic Rooster), and two daughters.


If anyone out there happens to have a photo of Jack with an English Rogers drum kit I would love to see it.