At the age of eight, Jools 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 End Docks.
At the age of 15, Jools was introduced to Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford; together they formed Squeeze, and shortly afterwards they were joined by Gilson Lavis (who had already played with, among others, BB King, Chuck Berry, and Max Wall) – who still drums with Jools.
Up The Junction and Cool For Cats made Squeeze’s success meteoric and their popularity rapidly extended to America, where their tour included performances at Madison Square Garden.
In 1987, Jools formed The Jools Holland Big Band – comprising himself and Gilson Lavis. This has gradually metamorphosed into the current 20-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 four trombones.
Jools and the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra play to audiences in excess of 300,000 each year.
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 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, Sugababes, Ringo Starr, Peter Gabriel, Solomon Burke, and many more.
Recently, following the hugely successful release of The Golden Age of Song, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra returned on 24th November 2014 with a brand new album, Sirens of Song, and an elite gathering of world-class female artists. The album showcases Jools’ talent for amazing collaborations as well as superb musicianship and features duets between the music maestro himself and some of the most iconic female voices in contemporary and classic music: Kylie, Emeli Sandé, Joss Stone, Laura Mvula, Imelda May, Melanie C, Eartha Kitt, and Rumer to name just a fe