|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; he joined Squeeze, followed by Gilson
Lavis shortly afterwards (Gilson 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.
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, Kylie, Marc Almond,
Ringo Starr, Peter Gabriel, Solomon Burke, and many more.
Collaborative works such as Golden Age Of Song,
Sirens Of Song, and Jools & Ruby followed
in these successful footsteps whilst 2016 saw Jools Holland
pay tribute to his lifelong friend, the piano, with the release
of his instrumental album Piano. The record features eight
of Jools' compositions and ten carefully selected pieces interpreting
the work of the piano artists and composers that he loves.
In 2017 Jools and his Orchestra were joined on stage for their Autumn/Winter
UK tour by Grammy Award winner José Feliciano, one of the most prominent
stars in Latin America and revered musicians in the world. They also recorded
an album together, As You See Me Now, which includes versions of songs
from a wide range of artists such as Stevie Wonder (Treat Myself), Lead Belly
(Midnight Special), Percy Mayfield's timeless soul classic Hit The Road Jack
and a completely new ska makeover of José's festive international hit
2018 saw Jools and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra team up with international star
and long-term friend Marc Almond on a 14-track album, A Lovely Life To Live,
a fantastic collection of both brand new, original tracks written by Jools and
Marc as well as their big band interpretations of a wide range of songs. Highlights
include Marc and Soft Cell's iconic Tainted Love, Edith Piaf's Hymne À L'Amour,
Irving Berlin's How Deep Is The Ocean, two Bobby "Blue" Bland songs It's My Life Baby
and I'll Take Care Of You and their co-written trio of songs that are all about the pair's
adoration and relationship with London I Lost My City, Workhouse Blues,
and London You Were My Lover. Marc also accompanied them on their live shows throughout 2018.
Jools is currently in the studio recording his new album, which will focus on his piano stylings, some duets
and collaborations with other top instrumentalists. It is due for release later in the autumn.
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 Rowland Rivron,
The Groovy Fellers, 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 celebrated
25 years, 50 series and over 360 episodes of broadcast on BBC Two
with a special show at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 21st
September 2017. The show won the award for Sound: Factual at the British
Academy Television Craft Awards 2019 (BAFTA) and is into its 58th series.
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.
The show ran for 20 years. 2010 saw a further prestigious achievement: the Sony Gold
award for 'Music Broadcaster Of The Year'.
In the same year, Jools 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, backed by his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
He also 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
On Friday 1st September 2017, BBC Proms celebrated The Sound of Soul: Stax Records
with a very special night at the Royal Albert Hall. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stax/Volt
Revue's first tour of the UK, Booker T. Jones and Sam Moore, both of whom
were part of the 1967 tour, joined Stax artists William Bell, Steve Cropper,
Eddie Floyd, and special guests Sir Tom Jones, Beverley Knight,
James Morrison and Ruby Turner in a magical concert underpinned by Jools
and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
Jools is currently putting the final touches to his brand new Pianola. PIANO & FRIENDS album, which
will feature some stellar guests and is co-produced by Nitin Sawhney and Laurie Latham, with one track produced
by Mousse T. It will be released in the autumn on Warner.
Due to the Covid-19 global spread, Jools, his Orchestra and crew have regrettably had to postpone numerous live
dates from 2021 to 2022 but are very excited to return to the boogie-woogie stage from this August and seeing everyone.
For all tour dates, please click
For fun tips on how to play piano, check out his YouTube channel:
Statement | Copyright © 1999-
Jools Holland. All rights reserved.