Muppet Show’s Jack Parnell Dies

This is an article taken from CBC News, from the Associated Press…

British bandleader, drummer and composer Jack Parnell, who led The Muppet Show‘s music for its five-year run, died on Sunday at age 87 after a year-long battle with cancer.

London-born Parnell’s musical career stretched almost seven decades. The son of a showbiz family — his father was a music hall performer and his uncle ran a chain of theatres — he studied piano as a child, but found his niche on the drums, making his professional debut as a teenager in the English seaside town of Scarborough.

Serving in the Royal Air Force, he was part of a band that performed at the RAF Bomber Command HW in High Wycombe. Later he joined the renowned Ted Heath Band with jazz musicians Kenny Ball and Ronnie Scott, playing on dozens of recordings and broadcasts.

He also had his own band at this time, and left Heath in 1951 to lead a 12-piece band and later a 16-piece band.

As musical director at British broadcaster ATV in the late 1950s, Parnell oversaw the music for the long-running variety show Sunday Night at the London Palladium, produced specials featuring Tom Jones and Barbra Streisand, and served as The Benny Hill Show‘s musical director.

Conducted all 120 Muppet episodes

In 1976, ATV began producing The Muppet Show, with its cast of Jim Henson’s puppets and human celebrity guests. Parnell conducted the orchestra for the variety show series’ 120 episodes, although its ostensible bandleader was the pop-eyed Muppet conductor, Nigel.

Parnell retired from ATV in 1982, but continued to perform with jazz bands near his home in Suffolk until three years ago, the Telegraph said.

Two days before his death, he celebrated his 87th birthday with his family and a glass of champagne.

He is survived by his wife, Veronica, two daughters and three sons — two of them drummers.

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