John Graham

I would like to inform you of the death my father - John Graham RMBX/1430 on the 5th May, 2005.

My father joined the Royal Marines as a musician at Deal Barracks in Kent approximately 1939/40. He served on H.M.S. EAGLE between 1940/42 where he was ships bandleader. Indeed I have many photos of him and the band at the fleet club in Alexandria. I also have what remains of a daily diary he kept dated from June - October 1942 which makes very interesting reading. When the Eagle arrived back in Greenock Glasgow on the 26th October 1942 my father disembarked and went into barracks. He spent some time in the Scarborough area.

His next ship was HMS Howe from 1943-45. I also have many photos of the band on board. It was on the Howe that my father forged a friendship with Arthur Cooper (Jazz was his nickname) which was to last a lifetime. Arthur passed away some years ago but I still have ties with his immediate family in Deal. Other photos include him with R.M. Band HMS Scotia in 1944. The London tour February 1944, conductor Mr. Charles Hotham, RN Tokyo Express Co. July 1945. My father made numerous broadcasts with the band and played at various concerts.

After he left the service in 1945, he had offers to join many professional big bands throughout the country but declined due to family commitments. He was certainly a very gifted and talented musician being able to play all saxes, clarinet, flute and violin and indeed all to the highest standard of musicianship.

My father was lead alto with the Tommy Sampson big band for many years and made quite a number of radio and T.V. broadcasts. He also performed at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival over the years as recently as 2002 with Danny Moss, Ted Heath's tenor player, and received rave reviews, comparing him with the late great Johnny Hodges! - not bad, considering he was 86 years old at the time.

My father was always very proud that he served in the Royal Marines and was a regular for many years when on holiday in Deal at the R.M. Club in Walmer where his friend Arthur was Secretary.

If you are interested in any photos etc, I would be pleased to forward them to you.

David Graham

RM Band - HMS Scotia
Ships band of HMS Eagle - Fleet Club Alexandria 1942
RM Band HMS Howe
London  Tour 1944
Tokio Express Co 1944
A page from John's Diary
HMS Eagle Days
More Eagle Days
HMS Eagle diary
RM Band Liverpool Cathedral Jan 1942  MD. Lt G.C. Keen RM
Scottish Television on HMS Eagle 1958
John Graham


A nice surprise!

Of course I was at the gig with Ken's band playing Buck Clayton, Buddy Tate and even a Dickie Wells arrangement. Jock's alto saxophone playing amazed me, and I mentioned the gig as part of an apology for not having been able to attend Ken's concert the following year. I had a good excuse for not being at Ken's gig -- I would have preferred to be there, but I reviewed a concert by some very young Scottish musicians instead.

I think I said about everything I could then remember of the 2002 gig, at which Danny Moss played as guest soloist with Ken's band. The one thing I didn't mention was that when Jock was beginning a solo (and he played exclusively alto) he had a way of digging in with a low note on the alto, so that if I wasn't looking it wasn't clear whether it was Jock's alto or Danny's tenor. Of course Jock just started with the dig in note and then proceeded to play with a bigger sound than I have heard from anybody born on this side of the Atlantic. I did hear Johnny Hodges when I was a schoolboy!

Ken was of course very enthusiastic about Jock, and quite apart from how well he played there was also the matter of needing only to put the sheet music in front of him and out came the performance. I can't remember the other members of the band, apart from Colin Steele on trumpet.

You have obviously brought me good luck, since just as your mail came in I found the diskette to which I had cut and pasted some draft material for an article that has been postponed a long time. I should have copied and pasted but to my dismay the original seemed to have (seemed -- it bleedin well HAD) disappeared from the hard disc.

I'm starting to get a yen to take up saxophone again myself, if I can work out an embouchure -- the last horn went when the latest repair to something a nasty person did with a spanner skewed my front teeth. And I was very broke at the time. Never sounded like Jock though, a most memorable musician!

All the very best,


Robert R. Calder

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