Jack Hylton Archive

The Jack Hylton Archive covers the life and career of Jack Hylton and some of his associates within the popular music scene of the 1920’s to 1940’s and the world of theatre, musicals and television from the 1940’s to the 1960’s.

Jack’s Early Life

Jack was born John Greenhalgh Hilton in Bolton on 2nd July 1892. He started by providing piano accompaniment for his father touring clubs, and later had his own act as the “Singing Mill Boy”. He worked as a relief pianist for various bands before joining the Queens Dance Orchestra. Here he arranged and recorded popular songs ‘Directed by Jack Hylton’ and went on to create his own band.

‌‌Jack Hylton and his Orchestra 1920’s – 1940’s

In 1923, he started recording under his own name and was so popular, he had to provide surrogate bands for simultaneous performances. These performances would include variety acts and soloists. His band toured America and Europe and he was one of the directors of the Decca record label. The band disbanded in the early 1940’s when many members were being called up for war service.

1940’s – 1960’s

Jack changed direction in his career to being a theatre impresario. He discovered many artists and hunted down new talent in talent shows. His musical productions dominated the London theatres. Some of his artists included Morecambe and Wise, Shirley Bassey, Arthur Askey, George Formby, Vera Lynn and the Crazy Gang. He became head of Light Entertainment for Associated Rediffusion (the then new ITV channel).


Jack died in 1965 while producing ‘Camelot’. Friends arranged a gala performance ‘The Stars Shine for Jack’ in his memory and the proceeds helped finance Lancaster University’s building of the Jack Hylton Music Rooms.

Items from the archive may be used by appointment only.

Tab Content: Timeline


John Greenhalgh Hilton born in Great Lever, Bolton on 2nd July.


Father, George, becomes a pub landlord. Jack accompanies his Dad and sometimes sings.


Professional career starts by working in a pierrot troupe in Rhyl changing his name to Hylton.


Musical Director for a pantomime company.


Meets Ennis Parkes who became Mrs Jack Hylton and who also became a band leader.


Relief pianist jobs, however with war breaking out, he joined the 20th Hussars as Musical Director of the entertainment division.


Double act with Tommy Handley.


Pianist with Queens Dance Orchestra. He transcribes some Paul Whiteman arrangements using the label 'Directed by Jack Hylton' starting his own career.


Leaves Queens Dance Orchestra but returns weeks later with his own band "Jack Hylton and his Orchestra".


Jack Hylton and his Orchestra are inundated with work so he provides bands elsewhere in his name. They attend their first Royal Command Performance.


Continental tour.


The Musician's Union in the US reject plans for a US tour. However, Jack is very busy. During the year, the band gives 700 performances, travels 63,000 miles and sells an average of a record every 7 minutes with a total of 3,180,000 sales for the year.


Excerpts from Stravinsky's Mavra are played at Paris Opera House.


Jack arranges a tour of Britain and Europe for Duke Ellington.


The band star in the film "She Shall Have Music". Afterwards, the orchestra is disbanded for 10 months whilst Jack tours America with US musicians.


Final European tour.


The band's second film "Band Waggon” is released. Jack Hylton and his Orchestra is disbanded due to many members being called up. Jack promotes the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which is in financial difficulty, and saves it.


Jack turns his attention to being a theatrical producer, entrepreneur and theatre impresario. He reforms the Crazy Gang.


Advisor for Light Entertainment for Associated Rediffusion using his stage discoveries as stars of TV.


Resigns from ITV.


Begins work on stage production of 'Camelot' and marries Beverley Prowse.


Jack dies of a heart attack on 29th January. A memorial concert is held entitled "The Stars Shine for Jack" with the proceeds going towards the building of the new Music Department at Lancaster University in his honour.

Tab Content: Theatre, Film, TV

Jack Hylton Productions started in the early 1940’s and continued until Jack’s death in 1965. He worked closely with certain stars, setting up some early in their careers such as Morecambe & Wise and Shirley Bassey. He promoted other stars such as Maurice Chevalier and the Crazy Gang.

The collection reflects Jack Hylton’s career and includes:

Press Cuttings

The Archive contains around 120 volumes of press cuttings compiled by Hylton's press agencies, spanning the years 1923 to 1965. Charting his rise to fame, these cuttings provide a wealth of information on Hylton's life and career, as well as reflecting the development of popular music and entertainment from the 1920s onwards.

Press Cuttings

Theatre Programmes

The Archive holds a large number of British, American and international theatre programmes, which include Hylton's own productions as well as others that he simply attended. These programmes cover a wide variety of entertainment genres: plays, variety shows, musical shows, pantomime, command performances, ballet, classical concerts, and circus.

Theatre Programmes

For information about the cast of theatre productions, please contact us.

Posters and Ephemera

The career of Jack Hylton is reflected in his appointment diaries, flyers and scripts from his productions. The Archive contains various items of Jack Hylton memorabilia including a bronze cast of Hylton's left hand and a baton presented to Hylton by the Mayor of Liverpool in 1927.


From 1955-1959 Jack was head of Light Entertainment for Associated Rediffusion (ATV) in the early days of the channel. Where Jack Hylton used orchestral arrangements for his TV shows we have the original band parts. We do not hold any of the original TV programmes. If you wish to obtain these please contact the British Film Institute.

For information about the TV orchestral parts, please contact us.


Jack Hylton and his Orchestra starred in two films, She Shall Have Music (1935) and Band Waggon with Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch (1940). The band also featured in a George Pal Puppetoon film, ‘Philips Cavalcade’, in the 1930s and there was a film production made of ‘The Love Match’ starring Arthur Askey in 1955.

Items from the archive can be used by appointment only.

Tab Content: Photographs

We have thousands of photos ranging from personal ones, Jack Hylton and his Orchestra, stars employed by Jack, and his theatrical productions. They vary widely and have not yet all been identified, or listed. If you wish to know whether we have a certain photograph then please contact us for further information.

We have listed some of the production photos. If you find a production you are interested in then please contact us for further details.

Production Photos

Items from the archive can be consulted by appointment only.