|Jools Holland OBE DL
was born Julian Miles Holland on 24th January 1958 in
Blackheath, South East London.
At the age of eight, he could play the piano fluently
by ear, and by the time he reached his early teens he
was proficient and confident enough to be appearing regularly
in many of the pubs in South East London and the East
At the age of 15, Jools was introduced to Glenn Tilbrook
Difford; together they formed Squeeze,
and shortly afterwards they were joined by Gilson
Lavis (who had already played with, among others,
B.B. King, Chuck Berry, and Max Wall) who still
drums with Jools.
Up The Junction and Cool For Cats gave Squeeze
meteoric success and their popularity rapidly extended
to America, where their tour included performances at
New York's Madison Square Garden.
In 1987, Jools formed The Jools Holland Big Band
comprising himself and Gilson Lavis. This has gradually
metamorphosed into the current 19-piece Jools Holland
and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, which consists
of pianist, organist, drummer, three female vocals, guitar,
bass guitar, two tenor saxophones, two alto saxophones,
baritone saxophone, three trumpets, and three trombones.
Jools and the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra play to audiences
in excess of 300,000 each year.
As well as formidable live performances, Jools has maintained
a prolific recording career since signing to Warner Music
in 1996, which includes the multimillion selling Jools
Holland and Friends series. Notable 'friends' have
included Sting, Chrissie Hynde, George Harrison, Norah
Jones, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Bono, Joe Strummer,
KT Tunstall, Robert Plant, Smokey Robinson, Sugababes,
Ringo Starr, Peter Gabriel, Solomon Burke, and many more.
A big fan of the cult 1960's show The Prisoner,
Jools' inspiration for Helicon Mountain the studio
complex he designed and built was Portmeirion,
the setting for the TV series. Jools demonstrated his
love of the series by starring in a spoof documentary,
The Laughing Prisoner, with Stephen Fry, Terence
Alexander, and Hugh Laurie, in 1993.
Jools' career as a television presenter has run parallel
to his musical career. He started in the early 1980s when
he interviewed The Police for a documentary that was made
while they were recording at George Martin's Montserrat
studio. Jools then auditioned to become co-presenter (with
Paula Yates) of The Tube, which achieved almost
immediate cult status and discovered a whole new generation
of musicians and comedians between 1981 and 1986. Jools
also managed to secure a rare interview with Miles Davis,
which was broadcast on 14th November 1986.
In two subsequent documentaries Walking to New
Orleans in 1985 and Mr Roadrunner in 1991
Jools unearthed some of the roots of American music, which
led him to talk to (and play with) many of his heroes,
including Fats Domino, Dr. John, and Lee Dorsey.
In 1988, Jools wrote a six-part series with Roland Rivron,
The Groovy Fellas, about a Martian visiting Earth.
Between 1988 and 1990, Jools performed in and co-hosted
(with David Sanborn) two seasons of an acclaimed music
performance programme, Night Music, on NBC.
After presenting two series of Juke Box Jury in
1989 and then 26 shows of The Happening in 1990,
Jools was asked in 1992 to host a new music programme
for BBC2, which combined his talent and experience as
a musician with his skills as a TV presenter. This was
with Jools Holland. The show has reawakened the
innovative spirit of The Tube, and concluded its
49th series in November 2016.
Other television programmes include: Name That Tune;
Don't Forget Your Toothbrush; Beat Route;
Jools Meets The Saint; and, in 2002, Jools'
History Of The Piano. Jools also conducted the interviews
for the definitive Beatles Anthology and the Rolling
He also appeared in the 1997 film Spice World as
a 'Musical Director' and, on 31st December 1999, performed
at the New Year's Eve Millennium Dome opening ceremony
in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Duke
of Edinburgh, and various luminaries.
Jools' achievements were formally recognized in June 2003,
when he was awarded the OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours
The 2004 UK tour kicked off with a star-studded concert
at the historic Royal Albert Hall, donating all proceeds
to the Teenage
Cancer Trust. Later that year, he collaborated
with Tom Jones on an album of traditional R&B music.
The album, which was recorded at Jools' Helicon Mountain
studio with Laurie Latham, entered the UK Album Charts
at Number 5.
In January 2005, Jools and his band performed with Eric
Clapton as the headline act of the Tsunami Relief Concert
Jools married Christabel McEwen in August 2005 and, the
following month, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant
In March 2007, Jools played two very special charity concerts,
at Wells Cathedral and Rochester Cathedral, to raise funds
for the upkeep of cathedrals throughout the British Isles
and highlight the beauty of these historic buildings and
the music within them. At the heart of these charity concerts
was a new setting of the Mass, composed by Jools and commissioned
by the Bishop of Bath and Wells. The new Mass was performed
exclusively in the two cathedrals.
Jools' colourful autobiography, Barefaced Lies & Boogie-Woogie
Boasts, hit the shelves on 4th October 2007 (published
by Michael Joseph Ltd.); the paperback was published in
the summer of 2008.
2009 saw the collaboration between Jools & his Rhythm
& Blues Orchestra with Eddi Reader on tracks for (and
a cameo role in) the movie Me & Orson Welles,
starring Claire Danes (Romeo & Juliet, Homeland) and
Zac Efron (High School Musical, The Lucky One). Available
on DVD, it was directed by Richard Linklater (School of
Rock, Dazed & Confused). Jools and the Orchestra with
Eddi Reader perform Let's Pretend There's A Moon,
I Surrender Dear, and You Made Me Love You (I
Didn't Want To Do It) on the Soundtrack album (Decca/Universal
One of Jools' personal 2010 highlights was the Sony Radio
Academy Silver Award for 'Best Specialist Music Programme'
presented to his highly-acclaimed and eclectic BBC Radio
2 show. That year saw an even more prestigious achievement:
the Sony Gold award for 'Music Broadcaster Of The Year'.
The show has been running for 15 years; the latest series
concluded in December 2016.
He also took on the very challenging role of Music Curator
for Prince Charles' September 2010 green initiative START,
a festival in the heart of London to raise awareness on
all environmental issues. Jools graced the event with
a special performance.
Jools had the privilege of being part of the stellar
line-up at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert, set against
the spectacular backdrop of Buckingham Palace, on Monday 4th
As always, Jools continues to dazzle audiences across
the UK with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra and their exuberant
Jools' new album Piano, which explores different piano
styles and is performed on a variety of pianos, was
released on Friday 2nd December 2016.
You can order Piano here.