Jack Allan

b. Jack Clarence Allan, 28 September 1929, Sydney, Australia, d. 7 February 1995, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. Allan began playing accordion as a child before switching to piano in his teens.…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography

b. Jack Clarence Allan, 28 September 1929, Sydney, Australia, d. 7 February 1995, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. Allan began playing accordion as a child before switching to piano in his teens. He worked in Sydney cabaret and clubs and although he was heavily influenced by swing era pianists, especially Teddy Wilson, he became one of the few Australian musicians to play the early post-war modern jazz styles. His recording debut was in November 1949 on Rex Stewart And His Sydney Six. The visiting American jazz musician also used Allan on two subsequent sessions. In February 1950 Allan made his first recordings with his group the Katzenjammers. They performed and recorded frequently in the early 50s with variable personnel, including Ken Silver, Don Burrows, Errol Buddle, John Bamford and Edwin Duff. Allan progressed to become a reliable studio musician with the ABC and also a writer and director for musical revues.

From the mid-50s he began an acting career and with his generous bulk was often cast as a villain, an amiable bar patron, or as a playing musician. His film credits include On The Beach, Ned Kelly, They’re A Weird Mob, andCaddie and there were also numerous television appearances. He maintained his musical prowess, but performances became spasmodic. In 1983 he recorded with percussionist John Sangster and in the following year made a tasteful, swinging solo album for the Anteater label. Moving north to the Sunshine Coast, Allan lived in semi-retirement with occasional acting and musical activity. Jack Allan was a much-admired pianist, both solo and in accompaniment, but his jovial flamboyance often obscured a serious commitment to his music.