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Alan Clare (Born Alan Jaycock) (31 May 1921 – 29 November 1993)

A self-taught pianist, he became a professional musician at the age of 15 and during the next few years became a familiar figure on the London jazz scene. He played with Carlo Krahmer, Sid Phillips and others in the early 1940s before military service intervened. Wounded soon after D-Day, he returned to civilian life, playing in the comedy band led by Sid Milward and also began a long sporadic association with Stephane Grappelli.

In the early 1950s, Clare was busy playing jazz in small groups, some of which he led, mostly in nightclubs such as the Studio Club in London’s West End. In the mid 1950's, through into the 1960s he fronted a trio with Lenny Bush on bass and Tony Kinsey on drums. The three would appear regularly at the Star Club a popular west end nightspot in London frequented by showbusiness stars, politicians and royalty. He worked in many other clubs including The Kool Kanary, Rake and Downbeat, right through to the 1980s and into the early 1990s until ill health prevented his continued performance.

His piano style used a light, subtle touch and he had a vast knowledge of tunes and chord progressions. Allied to a gift for accompaniment and the ability to play with unflagging swing, he became highly respected in the UK Jazz scene and was often referred to as "The Musician's Musician" or "Pianist's Pianist".

It was his involvement in the jazz scene that lead to his teaming up with Spike Milligan (himself an accomplished jazz trumpeter). Alan appeared in both Spike's series Q and There's A Lot of It About, and not just in musical sketches. In these shows he would often appear in sketches reading his lines directly from the script as part of a long-running joke.

He lived for many years in the Holland Park area of London and one of his albums was called Holland Park. After his death a commemorative bench was placed in the park itself, with the inscription: "Alan Clare - The musician's musician - His melodies live on."


Holland Park


Who's Who of British Jazz- John Chilton. 2ndedition (Jun 2004) Continuum Publishing

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