Jack Thompson Profile

Chris Bourke
9 Mar 2014

You hum it, Jack Thompson could play it. He wore his experience on his face, which had seen countless late nights. Thompson, a show-tune pianist who tickled the ivories in dance halls, leading cabaret bands, and department store windows, was one of the biggest-selling recording artists in New Zealand and Australia.

In a honky-tonk style he played “evergreens”, jazz standards, hits from musicals and the latest films – anything that could be remade into a parlour singalong. His natural habitat would have been at the upright in the Rover’s Return, a fag in his mouth and a pint of bitter staining the varnish. Instead, that was the scene at HMV’s studio in Lower Hutt, when he cranked out his albums. In the 1960s and early 1970s he made at least 24 albums for HMV, sometimes three in a year.

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One of three Jack Thompson albums released by HMV in 1964. As with many of Jack’s albums, Party Time featured medleys of popular tracks of the day.
Jack’s final LP for HMV was recorded live at the Russley Hotel in Christchurch in 1971. With Ralph Walker on bass and Lance Glanville on drums, the album was produced by Alan Galbraith.
Jack Thompson profiled in Joy, and off-shoot of the NZ Truth, July 1960
An 8 track EP of seasonal favourites originally released in 1962
Jack Thompson Plays EP, from 1961
Jack’s first 12” LP for HMV. For this album Jack was accompanied by Slim Dorward on bass and Bob Little on drums. The cover picture was by renowned travel photographer Hubert Sieben
1965 release recorded at the HMV Wellington studios by Frank Douglas. For this album, Jack was accompanied by Noel Evans on bass and Garry Kennington on drums. LP cover photography by Hubert Sieben.
Sadie The Cleaning Lady, 1966
Jack Thompson Meets Garth Young, from 1968
Produced by Alan Galbraith, Jack turned to popular country hits for this 1970 album
Jack’s first EP for HMV released in 1960, accompanied by George Campbell (from the Kiwi Concert Party) on bass and Alan Siddall on drums.
Evergreens, Thompson Style, from 1966
Jack Thmpson - At The Movies, from 1970, a year in which he would release 4 albums via HMV
1967 release produced and engineered by Frank Douglas. Cover photography by Sal Criscillo.
More Hits from The Black And White Minstrels, from 1969
Produced by Howard Gable and engineered by Frank Douglas, this 1969 album saw Jack accompanied by Slim Dorward on bass and Dave Fraser on drums. The cover was designed by Terence F. Eady with photography by Sal Criscillo. The album highlighted tracks featured on the 1960’s English TV variety show of the same name.
The Jack Thompson Touch, released on 10" LP in 1959
1970 album produced by Peter Dawkins and engineered by Frank Douglas. Cover design by Terence F. Eady.
1963 release which saw Jack perform medleys of some of his favourite love songs and ballads.