Jack Peach

Jack Peach

(1918-1997)

Jack peach

Jack Peach was one of the greatest drummers ever to come out of Britain. In the fifties, sixties and seventies Jack was one of the most employed session musicians in London. He used to say that he couldn't remember half of the films and records of the time that he had played on. Jack not only played drums and percussion on the sessions but he selected and booked the other musicians on behalf of the arranger. Someone who performed this function was called a "fixer".

A few examples of films the scores for which Jack played drums on, are Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Guns of Navarone, many Carry On Films and Ealing Comedies and several Bond Films. Jack also played drums on the soundtracks of a lot of television programmes and series such as The Saint and The Prisoner.  He also played drums with Dudley Moore's Piano Jazz trio.

The first West End show that Jack played in was "Expresso Bongo" at The Saville Theatre in the 1950's. By the end of the fifties Jack was getting a lot of work and bought an old London Taxi for £30 to move his drums around.

He played drums on dozens of Pop records of the 1960's and 1970's  including most of Dusty Springfield's work. In the sixties Record producers would often bring in session musicians for recordings as the band musicians were not very tight. It would not be wise, therefore, for me to reproduce the names of some of the bands whose hit singles he played drums on as I am in no state to defend a court action. I was surprised to learn the names of some of the bands. No 1 groups with drummers whose names everybody knows. Unfortunately the UK Musicians Union failed to keep any records of what sessions their members played on, so, many years later when funds for the reapeats of their work became available, the MU were unable to distribute it.

 

Even in his later years Jack was a sought after drummer in the area around Hastings in East Sussex. At age 79 he would still play up to half a dozen gigs a week with a variety of bands including the popular World Music combo, Pass The Cat. The photograph above was taken at a Sunday afternoon Jazz session at Pissaro's in Hastings in the year before Jack died.

In the swinging sixties, as one of London's top drummers, Jack mixed with such legends as Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell, the two top rock drummers of the era. Jack shared a flat with British drum legend Phil Seaman and stories of their wild escapades would crop up from time to time. Jack Peach and Phil Seaman were great friends and must have studied together and learnt from each other.

In his later years Jack was incredibly popular with other musicians in the area of East Susssex where he lived and he is still greatly missed by many of us who knew him.

Phil Little   April 1999

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Dave Payne has kindly done some research and located this fascinating page about the development of the recording industry in the 1950's in terms of the experience of arranger Johhnny Gregory. Here is an excerpt that refers to Jack Peach. Click this link to read the full article. This portion relates to how Jack Peach met and became fixer for Ken Jones.

circa 1955 "It was the beginning of the "Chinese Copy" era. As soon as any popular record looked like it was going into the charts, Johnny or Ken would adapt the arrangements from the disc and a singing artist was chosen who could mimic the original artist. They were cranking out 8 records or 16 numbers a week and all had to be finished during the session, no remixing in those days. They were then pressed and in Woolworth stores within five to six days. Many turned out to be better than the originals, and with a nationwide network of Woolworth stores to distribute them, they sold in their tens of thousands.

Johnny was also working with EMI and Decca at that time and was known around the studios. Many would ask why he was going to Embassy. The answer, it was great experience doing three or more sessions a week, and he met all the great musicians. Jack Peach the drummer was one of the chief fixers and Ken Jones originally played piano on Johnny's sessions. Eventually, Ken wanted to go solo and was replaced by Gordon Franks, a close friend, and then Ronnie Price who did every session with Johnny for the next 30 years. The Rita Williams Singers and latterly Mike Sammes Singers always provided the backing group. Johnny also created Nino Rico, a fictitious Latin American Orchestra leader, the precursor of Chaquito. A 10" LP was released on Oriole. Had the record received the marketing attention it deserved then fate may have taken a different course."

A website dedicated to Bass player Ron Prentice has a good deal of detail if you are interested in what session music was all about all those years ago. In the Recording Sessions section Jack Peach is frequently the fixer, which certainly means that he played on the session as well.

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Jack Peach played percussion alongside Phil Seaman in Tommy Watt and his All Stars in Jazz Jamboree 1959 on Sunday 25th October, 1959 at the Gaumont State, Kilburn. Info taken from jazzprofessional.com

The lineup was:-

Leader/Piano: Tommy Watt
Saxes: Mike Senn, Johnny Scott, Tubby Hayes, Eddie Mordue, Ronnie Ross
Trumpets: Tommy McQuater, Ron Simmonds, Albert Hall, Bert Courtley
Trombones: Jock Bain, George Chisholm, Jackie Armstrong, Jack Irving
Horns: Jim Buck Snr, Jim Buck Jnr, Sim Saville, Bob Young
Bass: Frank Donnison
Drums: Phil Seamen
Percussion: Jack Peach
Tuba: Jim Powell

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Phil Seaman

Jack shared a flat with legendary drummer Phil Seaman and in the sixties the two mixed socially with the successful Rock drummers Mitch Mitchell and Ginger Baker. HERE is a link to an interesting article on Ginger Baker and Phil Seaman's influence on his playing.

This is an excerpt from The Phil Seaman Story, taken from a rare old vinyl record. It features Phil Seaman talking about the beginning of his career and then playing a drum solo. His great musicality is evident in the phrases he plays.

Phil Seaman Drum Solo

Phil Seaman Phil Seaman 2

(Photographers Left/Unknown Unfortunately - Right at The Marquee in London by Terry Cryer with thanks for permission)

Jack Peach gave me a cassette of Phil Seamen playing live at the Hope and Anchor, Islington, London on 9th June 1972, the same year that Phil died. The quality of the cassette was poor but I have digitised it and here is part of the last number of the set leading into some soloing from Phil.

Phil Seamen Live at The Hope and Anchor 1972 - Real Audio

The line up of the quartet was,

Phil Seamen - Drums

Lenny Skeats - Bass

Don Rendell - Tenor Saxophone

Brian Evans (?) - Piano

As you can hear, the quality is poor but if you would like an audio CD (three tunes total app. 50 minutes - price £10 + P & P) send an e-mail to,

phil@littledrum.co.uk

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We have had some recent contributions regarding Phil Seaman, so, we reproduce them here with permission. Thanks ! As Phil became more of a 'household name' the spelling of his name was changed slightly to avoid embarrassment, so you will often see his surname spelt in a variety of ways.

Arthur Roe was given a pair of drum sticks by Phil Seaman when Arthur was aged just five. He sent in the picture of Phil and said,

"Many thanks for replying to my email, well my Dad died when I was seven so I did not get any info about Phil from him. But my brother was the manager of the Memphis Five here in Burton upon Trent and he new most thing about Phil I will have to have a chat with him.

You see when I had My band in Birmingham in the early sixties I came over to Burton to see Phil but when I got to the house His mom told me he was ill and still in bed and His Mom would not let me see him she told my Mom don’t let Arthur get like Phil has got ( the Booze and the drugs I was only 16 and impressionable) well that’s how Mrs Seaman saw it, But he sent me the picture and he was my Idol, by the seventies I was married and stopped playing. When he died his Mom threw his Trixon drum kit away the dustcart took it before I could get my hands on it. I cried my eyes out when I found out he had died and what had happened to his drums. Can you imagine me actually being able to own and play Phil’s Drum kit?"

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Drummer, Steve Banning, was an Orchestral and Theatre drummer in London's West End during the sixties and told me this story concerning a drum extravaganza in the Talk Of The Town or somewhere similar circa 1971.

The unique event featured Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson and Kenny Clare, all with their individual drum kits set up. Louis Bellson's, of course, with the double bass drums. Buddy Rich walked out and sat down at Louis Bellson's double bass dum kit and started to play on the bass drums.... boom....boom....boom....boom and the tempo gradually sped up to double and double that again till the bass drums were playing a roll many of us would like to be able to play on a snare drum. When he finished there was a tremendous round of applause and Buddy Rich walked over and sat at his own kit where he repeated the exercise, reaching the same crescendo of notes with one bass drum - the roof lifted.

At the climax of the session the spotlight was put on a figure in the seated crowd, the MC asked for order and announced that the gathering had a great respect for Phil Seaman who was in the audience. The gathering acknowledged this with a huge ovation, bringing Phil to tears.
Jazz Professional have a page dedicated to Phil Seaman at,

http://www.jazzprofessional.com/profiles/Phil%20Seamen.htm

Phil Seaman is surely the greatest ever British drummer.

Update December 2007

Christmas 2007 saw a contact from drummer John Scott Cree who wrote as follows,

Hi Phil

visited your website with interest, particularly in the following: 

"Drummer, Steve Banning, was an Orchestral and Theatre drummer in London's West End during the sixties and told me this story concerning a drum extravaganza in the Talk Of The Town or somewhere similar circa 1971." etc.....

The event was actually at Queen Elizabeth Hall on 5 December 1971 late on a Sunday afternoon. It was a benefit for drummer Frank King and I came up from Dover to go with my Dad, drummer Scott (Jock) Cree who was among loads of drummers there.  The event was recorded and released on the Parlophone LP "Conversations: a drum spectacular" (PCS 7151) in 1972.  Buddy also, generously, put the spotlight on Carl Palmer. I was talking to drummer Bobby Orr at the Coda Club recently about it and he reminisced about the double bass drum pedal episode.  I also spoke to others on that gig - sax player Duncan Lamont and trumpeters Stan Reynolds and Ronnie Hughes who recalled, separately, that Buddy arrived late for rehearsal, having played at Ronnie's until the small hours.  After 2 runs through to capture a particularly complicated Bobby Lamb composition, Buddy turned round and said "Hey, you guys ought to play in my band".  A wag, who shall be nameless, responded "You couldn't ****ing afford us".  A great event, for drummers as the recording testifies.

In 1968, when I was living in earls Court, I took Dad to see Phil Seamen, at the Bull's Head, Barnes with the Tony Lee Trio with Terry Smith guesting on guitar. Phil had the trade mark fag hanging from the corner of his mouth and sweated profusely. He towelled his face between and during numbers, keeping the rhythm going with his free hand. At one point I wondered how he would reconcile this activity with the burning cigarette in his mouth. When he removed the towel, the cigarette had disappeared. I was distracted for a while.

best

John

Back To Jack

Here are some memories of people who knew and worked with Jack Peach.

Dear Phil,

I only knew Jack towards the end of his life when he was living in Winchelsea Beach in an old and leaking railway carriage, having given up being a fisherman and returned to doing wide ranging gigs. He played with us in the Inside Outside quartet doing modern jazz originals in a variety of different and challenging time signatures. What I liked most about him (apart from his gruffness) was his still total dedication and commitment to the music and his enthusiasm for the cutting edge, New York style playing. I missed him greatly when he died, which incidentally was between a lunchtime and evening gig, and I dedicated a song to him on our last album called Mr.J.P. Good luck with finding the tracks he played on during his recording career, I'm not sure Jack himself could remember them all!

All the best,

Kathy Dyson.

Hi Phil            

Just found your tribute to Peachy, as we used to cal him down the fishmarket in Rye. As a kid I used to work for him during my school holidays, from about 1975 to 1979, on his 30ft trawler 'KATY'. My father bought a trawler from him around 1970 and from there my family got to know him more as the years went on.   When he was doing his session work in London I was too young to go with him, but my brother had the pleasure of going with him. The only time I got to see him play was in Brighton, when he played in Joseph and His Amazing Technicoloured Dream Coat.

We used to have a demo tape with him and Rod Simmons on, but over the years we lost it.   I do remember him saying from time to time when things were hard as a trawlerman that he'd just got a cheque through the post for royalties from 'Sykes', the TV show.   As a trawlerman he knew his stuff, as his drumming. Yes he is sadly missed, not just by the music fraternity.    One of his favorite sayings was KEEP TAKING THE TABLETS Ta for now  

Dave Payne

In a further bulletin Dave told me,

My mum has got back to me, and she say's that Jack laid down the drum track to the 1973 hit " Get Down" for Gilbert O'Sullivan, Gilbert never had a proper backing group so you could include that bit on your web page without fear of the solicitors getting hold of you. As my mum has an orginal reoding of the LP, she told me that the music director for the recording was Laurie Holloway, for MAM Records.  

She also includes session work for the theme tunes to, The Persuaders, The Avengers, Jason King and I think he did the theme for The Professionals, although me & me mum are not quite sure on this. She also told me that he did a lot of session work for Ken Jones, who did the music for Sykes. Apparantly if Ken needed a good session man for whatever he was working on he would phone Jack and see if he was available.   

Going back further Jack used to play with the LSO, one of the big orchestra's, as he used to know James Blades. Jack was like James' apprentice. I actually remember this as It was about 1978/9 that James Blades came to Rye on a tour type of thing doing somting like the history of percussion, or something, and our family turned up to the hall where it was taking place and Jack was sitting in the corner at the back. So we all went and sat with him. Jack told us that the pair of them were little devils as they used to mess about, and James would send Jack off in the middle of a performance to get coffee for the pair of them, amoungst other buffoonery. James Blades used to teach at the Royal College of Music, so it was like having two legends in the room. James, in his later years did an appearance on Blue Peter, doing much the same thing.   

The only other thing I can tell you about Jack at the moment is a bit about his war time experiences, and that was that he was in the transport division in the desert, and how some military policeman told him to back his tank transporter, with a new shinny tank on the trailer, off the road to make way for some urgent convoy comming toward him. Jack protested,as the surrounding dessert was a mine field. The MP was having none of it, and soon got his way. Of course you can guess what happerned the trailer complete with tank was blown up and the MP arrested Jack and he spent a little time in the glass house, even though it wasn't his fault.   My mum still see's his old neighbours, and she is going to ask them if they can remember any of the other session work etc that he done.

E-mail you later when I can get some more info    Dave Payne

Thanks for your efforts Dave !!!

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Jack's daughter Jayne has kindly provided these very special photographs.

Jack Peach with The Minstrels

Jack Peach on percussion with The George Chisholm Band in an excerpt from the television programme, The Black and White Minstrel Show, circa 1962. Also featuring Ronnie Hunt on Trumpet.

The Coda Club

A Grand Council of British Drummers at The Coda Club in London, 1997.

Back Row (Standing)

Stan Barrett, Tony Lytton, Stan Bourke, Kenny Hollick (Joe Loss), (Looking over his shoulder) Allan Ganley, Jack Parnell, Barry Morgan (World Famous Latin American Percussionist), Bobby Orr.

Middle Row (Seated)

Kenny Harris, Don Lawson, Tony Kinsey, (Standing) Hughie O'Shea.

Front Row (Seated)

Joe Pawsey, Clem Kattini (Telstar), Reg Weller (Well known Latin American Percussionist), Andy White (temporarily with The Beatles prior to Ringo joining), Harry Benson, Jack Peach, Binky Morrice (Years at Talk Of The Town nightclub), Norris Grundy.

 

The above photograph was kindly supplied by another session drummer of the time, Don Lawson, who said, "All of these drummers have had long and distinguished careers". Most of the session drummers from this era are in their seventies and eighties and most of them say they can only remember a fraction of things they have played on.

Don told me he had a stock reply for the question "Who have you played with", this was, "I was the House Drummer for Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennett and Blue Peter". For our non British viewers, Blue Peter is a BBC children's programme which began in the early sixties and still runs live three times a week. Don did a lot of work for the BBC who worked musicians very hard and on one occasion Don recorded 12 titles in a three hour session.

Don first met Jack Peach in 1951/52 and said of Jack, "He was a fine player and a very talented man. He wasn't just a fixer for jingle writers, he was a fixer for everybody". According to Don, "One of his closest associates was a Composer/Arranger called Ken Jones. If his name is on the credits it is almost certain that Jack Peach played Drums". Many British films in black and white were arranged by Ken Jones and Jack would have booked all the musicians. Another arranger who used Jack a lot is Johnny Scott who became very big in the States.

In the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies there was so much work for drummers in London that all of the guys in the photograph above were kept busy seven days a week. Don said, "Kenny Clark did a lot of work, but he couldn't do it all.". 

Here is an example of a full day from Don Lawson's diary. Up at 6am. Recording session for a Kellogs commercial 8am to 9am. Recording an album of Pub Piano music with Mrs Mills 10am to 1pm. Afternoon - Blue Peter. Evening -  "Godspell" (with David Essex) in a West End Theatre. Midnight - Cabaret with a Drag Artist. In one thirteen month period Don had just the two Christmas days off. Jack Peach's diaries were along the same lines. 

With so many phone calls and so much work, these drummers relied on each other to 'dep' or deputise for odd evenings or one off engagements when they were already booked. Don said "Bobby Orr came up with a good expression, 'We are all everybody's dep'". That is how, while Andy White was Marlene Deitrich's regular drummer, on several occasions Jack Peach deputised for him. 

This is a story typical of Jack Peach, related to me by his daughter Jayne. Jack sailed six weeks on a boat to Australia to back Marlene Deitrich. At the rehearsals she asked him if he was fit to back her. Jack replied " I am a better f*****g player than you are a singer love." and he got the next boat home. This really was typical of Jack who had or, I should say, operated a tough exterior to discourage the idiots. After you have been in the business for a while you observe there are plenty of them about. Jack was well known for his Gruff exterior but when you got to know him he was a very intelligent and deeply caring person. Humble and true to his Lancashire roots. I loved Jack and writing this has reminded me how much I miss him and I am sure that goes for everyone who knew him.

Jack Peach and Nelson

Jack and his dog "Nelson". Taken at Rye Harbour where Jack moored his Fishing Boat following his shortlived 'Retirement'

 

E-mail    phil@littledrum.co.uk


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