Jack Fallon

Off
Jack Fallon

Jack Fallon

Inductee

Bass player, fiddler and impresario Jack Fallon would have been 100 on Oct. 13, 2015. So it’s fitting this remarkable man of two Londons goes into the London Music Hall of Fame as a 2015 inductee. He was born in what his friend Spike Milligan of The Goon Show called “a log cabin” – a comment his sister, Sister Rosary (Irene Fallon), corrected to “a log cabin called St. Joseph’s Hospital.” Fallon is being remembered as probably the only musician – and certainly the only London Music Hall of Fame inductee – to have played with The Beatles and Duke Ellington and Lena Horne and Noel Coward and Bob Hope and Sarah Vaughan and Django Reinhardt and jazz legends Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron and country stars Tex Ritter and Tennessee Ernie Ford and bluesmen Big Bill Broonzy and Josh White – and a host of others. Off-stage, he booked gigs for The Stones and The Beatles early in their careers. Perhaps Jack Fallon’s most widely heard track is Don’t Pass Me By, from The Beatles’ White Album. That’s Jack Fallon on fiddle in 1968, playing a sequence penned by the “fifth Beatle” George Martin. Before The Beatles had lured him out of semi-retirement, Fallon had started his career decades before in a family band playing dances and events in Middlesex County. Growing up in the Ballymote area, Fallon became part of the London dance band scene. He studied with the London Symphony Orchestra founder Bruce Sharpe and played in the Frank Crowley band. He knew future London Music Hall of Famers such as the Lombardo brothers and Alf Tibbs. Jack Fallon stayed in Britain after playing in an RCAF band, the Streamliners, during the Second World War, building on a career that began as a member of a family band playing dances in the London region. He remembered recording with The Beatles fondly. Paul McCartney was at the controls and Ringo Starr played piano. “George Martin, who I had met before . . . had jotted down the 12-bar sequence,” Fallon wrote. Years before, Fallon had been approached by the late Brian Epstein, then the Beatles manager. “Can you use them on Nov. 26 (1962)?” Epstein inquired. Fallon’s Cana agency had booked the Beatles earlier that year for 30 pounds sterling. He booked The Rolling Stones for half that amount in the same year. “They were nice guys, just Liverpool lads,” Fallon said later of the Beatles. When he first met them, the Stones were “polite . . . and neatly dressed,” he recalled. Fallon’s “highly modern-for-its-period bass playing” and “oh-so-attractive Canadian accent” – to quote British critic and cornet player Digby Fairweather – helped him make his mark from classical music at the Royal Albert Hall to jazz to pop. In 1948, Fallon toured with Duke Ellington. The great American band leader was required to use British-based musicians for a small-group tour. “Why, I’m not sure, but he took a fancy to me – in the nicest possible way, of course. Maybe it was because he could understand my Canadian accent, more than the others,” Fallon said. Based in Britain for more than 60 years, Fallon lived in London, England, with his wife, Jean (now deceased), and their family. He was granted the Freedom of the City of London, England, in 2002. Jack Fallon died in 2006. He was 90.

Mario Circelli

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