Dance Band Encyclopaedia


Jack McCormick

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Bandleader and Saxophonist.
September 16, 1906 in Bootle, Liverpool, England.
July 1953, Manchester.

John Alfred (Jack) McCormick was born in Bootle, Liverpool, England on September 16, 1906.  He was the first child born to John Joseph McCormick and Jane Elizabeth (Hodgeson) McCormick and was one of four children.  He had two brothers, George and Cyril and a sister Amy.  He had a few jobs as a young man, but finally chose his love of music as his career.  He was very versatile, and could play quite a few instruments as well as leading the band; the violin, tenor and soprano saxophones as well as the clarinet.  He eventually formed his own band in the early 1930's called "Jack McCormick and his Ambassadors" and they would play all over the area for various functions, especially at the Rialto Ballroom in Liverpool, where they played for " Dances". His signature tune was "Tea For Two".   It was at these dances that he met his wife, Ethelwin Harrison, she would come there with her sister Kathleen.

Ethelwin was also very musical, was a gifted pianist and also a ballroom dancer, in fact had won the North of England Dance Championships at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, England.  They were married a few years later in 1934 and resided on Stanley Road in Liverpool.  

In late 1933, Jack and the band made their first traced recording, for the local "Majestic" record label (based in Blackpool) and a few months later made 2 test recordings for British Homophone's "Sterno" label. The members of the band at this period are believed to include Bill Boland (trumpet & trombone); Cyril Wookey & Alf Roberts (saxes); Frank Woods (piano); Harry Case (guitar); Jack Martin (bass & trombone); Arthur Haydock (drums). Wookey & Haydock were both former members of Henry Hall's Manchester-based Midland Hotel Band, and Boland & Case were subsequently to play for Joe Loss in London.

It was during this time (1934-1939) that he and his band became quite popular and would broadcast from time to time on the BBC from the Rialto Ballroom in Liverpool. In 1936, they secured a recording contract with Decca with records to be issued on their "Panachord" label. Eight sides were recorded (and issued) altogether. At this point the band consisted of: Gordon Homer (trumpet, piano & vocal); Bill Boland (trumpet, trombone & arranger); Cyril Wookey & Al Johnson (saxes & violins); Woods, Martin & Haydock as before. Popular singer Sam Costa sings on some of the sides; the others are untraced, though one has a girl singer who is believed to be Jack's wife, Ethelwyn.

When the second world war broke out in 1939, he moved his family to Blackpool, a safer area then Liverpool, and entered the Royal Air Force as a sergeant in charge of entertaining the troops, he was stationed in Iceland off and on until the war ended in 1944.

When he came home, he formed another dance band, I'm sure with some of his previous dance band members.  They were offered a permanent position to play for Lewis's Restaurant, which was part of a large department store in Manchester, England. The members of the band at that time were; Don Bamford, Dick Kyte, George Harrison, Eddie Lawn, Ted Shuttleworth and Charley Maycock. He would still broadcast his music, and in August 1947, was featured with Michael Miles on "Radio Forfeits". It was at this time he also appeared on "Music While You Work" the radio series. He worked for Lewis's for many years until his early death in July, 1953.  He lived in Blackpool until the family moved to Manchester in 1952.

Jack and Ethelwin had three children, two sons, John and Peter and a daughter, Pauline.  In 1956, Ethelwin emigrated to the United States with her family.  

My thanks to Jack McCormick's son, Peter, for the information & photograph scans

Jack McCormick.jpg (58182 bytes)
Jack McCormick

Jack McCormick & his Ambassadors.jpg (116506 bytes)

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Three photographs of Jack McCormick & his Ambassadors (dates unknown)