Jack Hawkins RIP

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Just received from Mick, this message from Colin Campbell of the Hilsea Lido big band. It’s about Jack Hawkins who ran the Locarno (Mecca) Band in Arundel Street, pretty much from when it first opened in the 1960s.

“Jack Hawkins whose band played at the Mecca in the 60’s passed away in Q.A. Hospital last Saturday night. He had been ill for some time. I know you would want to know, to perhaps put closure on your file for Jack. He was very energetic – to this day I’ll never know where he got his energy from and as you know we went a back a long time together.”

Back in March 1965 Jack took his Pompey band to play in Hammersmith Palais with supporters’ accompanying them in coaches. About twelve months later, the Jack Hawkins’ Orchestra broadcast live from the Locarno on the Light Programme and in the Evening News, Spinner suggested that Jack had “done as much as any to bring back dancing as entertainment”.

Just before Christmas 1966, Jack took his 13-piece Locarno band to Botley’s Dolphin Hotel to perform to the jazz club, including the premiere of Terry Porter’s “Southern Suite” which was well received – the Evening News Downbeat column described it as “technically accomplished” and “very entertaining”. Early in the New Year, the Jack Hawkins Orchestra broadcast on the Light Programme’s “Swingalong”.

All of this of course is evidence that while fashions and styles come and go in popular music, the best are not replaced – they may go ‘underground’ but they’re out there somewhere if you look – and the Hilsea Big Band is still performing today.

RIP Jack


Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

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