Jack Parnell

Jack Parnell, born John Russell Parnell on August 6, 1923 in London, England, was a British musician, composer and music director.

As a child, Parnell first began his music studies on the piano but soon found his niche on the drums, debuting as a teenager at the Scarborough seafront.

While serving in the Royal Air Force, Parnell played drums, performing at the RAF Bomber Command HQ in High Wycombe.

Parnell went on to play drums for The Ted Heath Orchestra where he performed on numerous recordings and live radio broadcasts. Working with the likes of Kenny Ball and Ronnie Scott, Parnell left Heath's band in 1951 to lead his own band — first a 12-piece group then later a 16-piece group.

In 1956, Parnell was appointed musical director for Associated Television (ATV) where he remained there until 1981. It was during this time that he served as the 'real' conductor for The Muppet Show orchestra during the entire six year series, worked with legends Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr, Lena Horne and Nat King Cole. He even composed the bombastic brass score theme to ITC Entertainment.

Parnell wrote the music for Sunday Night At The London Palladium, as well as composing numerous television themes, including Love Story (for which he won the Harriet Cohen Award), Father Brown, The Golden Shot and Family Fortunes. He was also the musical director for The Benny Hill Show. Parnell was voted "best drummer" for seven consecutive years (1940s and 1950s) in the British pop/rock music newspaper, Melody Maker.

Jack Parnell died on August 8, 2010 in Southwold, Suffolk, England; he was 87.

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