The 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.