Jools Holland webchat – your questions answered on punk, Amy Winehouse and his favourite rapper

Last modified: 01: 05 PM GMT+0

The bandleader and television presenter has tickled ivories with the biggest names in music. He told us which musician he’s most in awe of, what late legend he’d like to spend eternity with and his peculiar fear of dying

And that's a wrap …

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Thank you so much for joining me and taking the time to think up your eloquent questions. I hope you found my answers satisfactory. I have the honour to remain your humble and obedient servant. I'm sorry there wasn't time to answer them all.

25aubrey asks:

Of all the people you’ve sat alongside tickling the ivories with, who were you most in awe of?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

I think many of us will be in awe of the people who we have idolised since our childhood. I remember listening to Gladys Knight when I was a teenager and going to see her at the Lewisham Odeon. So when she ended up sitting next to me at the piano stool, I felt like I was in some kind of lovely dream. But it's no good being dozy because you've got to remember the key and chords etc. Once the music starts, you forget all of that and just become the servant of the song. Once it's over, instead of being back to reality, you're back in this incredible dream sitting next to an idol. I would also mention Eartha Kitt as an example of somebody who inspired awe as she was one of the originators from the jazz age and there are not many of those left now. And finally, the person that still inspires me each night on stage, who has more fire and thunder than anyone I've ever seen, is our own Ruby Turner, who has that mix of church and the blues and coming from the heart.


CharlesBradlaugh says:

Went to see Jools this week, brilliant show as always.

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Thank you for your extremely kind remarks. This is exactly the sort of unbiased comment that I welcome. Look forward to seeing you at home later.

OlivesNightie asks:

Do you still play any of the tracks on your Buick48 EP from many moons ago? If not, why not?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Thank you for that question. I'd forgotten about the EP Boogie Woogie '78, which was released in 1978. Next year, it will be 40 years old, so I'd better reintroduce something from the set. Thank you for a very useful tip.


jajones7 asks:

Who is your favourite rapper and why?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Dizzee Rascal. He has the humour and charm.

cheerupstanley asks:

Are you contractually obliged to invite Rowland Rivron to the Hootenanny? What does he do for the rest of the year?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Thank you for reminding me to invite Roland Rivron on the Hootenanny again this year. I don't like to probe too much into what he does in the intervening period but he's always beautifully turned out so I don't think he can be up to too much mischief.

mitra asks:

Hey Jools, who are those people in the studio sipping free BBC lager and cluelessly tapping their feet out of sync to some of the greatest musical acts around and Ed Sheeran? And how do I join them?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

You can either go to the BBC website, which is what most of those people have done. Or you can be part of one of the artist's retinue. Or you can film yourself tapping your foot out of sync to music and drinking beer and send us the footage. It might be so striking that we immediately book you.

Do As asks:

You’re on a spaceship that has had critical damage from an alien attack. There are two escape pods available capable to bring you back safely to Earth in 365 days, the only issue is that the CD players are broken one plays Up the Junction on repeat 24/7 and the other plays Tempted. Which escape pod do you choose?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Thank you for highlighting a question that has been on my mind for a while. I love Paul Carrack's voice on Tempted. But I love Gilson Lavis's drum intro on Up The Junction. I would be so torn between which to pleasure myself with that I should instead rather stay on the damaged spacecraft and plunge to my doom on an unknown planet.

id1983 asks:

Is it true that when Primal Scream came on to promote their album XTRMNTR, Bobby Gillespie insisted on written confirmation that you wouldn’t play piano when they performed Swastika Eyes?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Absolutely not. I never barge onto anybody's music unless they ask me to. I should mention further that Bobby's a dear friend and his mother Wilma comes to see my band regularly at our shows.

'Amy Winehouse was one fo the greatest losses to music'

anonny asks:

How amazing was Amy Winehouse’s voice?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Good question. I have been incredibly fortunate to see, over the top of my piano, some of the greatest singers the world has known. In my view, Amy was one of the greatest ever. She had a natural voice that just made you fall in love with whatever she was singing. Like the great blues singers, she sang from the heart and told the truth. And like Édith Piaf, there were elements of vulnerability. She'd listened to Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan but reinvented everything they did. She had a great knowledge of all that had gone before her, which she used to create a whole new path for herself. She's one of the greatest losses to music.

Rob_Williams asks:

How did you and José Feliciano get together to collaborate on As You See Me Now? What are your favourite tracks from the album?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

I've been a lifelong fan of José Feliciano and met him for the first time in October 2016 when he came on Later. We immediately hit it off and decided to make a record together. It meant a great deal to me that he wanted to cover my song As You See Me Now.

Fergz 4d asks:

Any advice for someone who would like to get back into playing the piano? As a kid I used to play, though it was all classical music. I’d love to get back into it and learn some bluesy, stompin’, honky tonkin’ tunes. Much more my cup of tea than Schubert and Bach … By the way, your piano solo at the end of The The’s Uncertain Smile sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Thank you for your kind remarks and request for advice. I think it's probably easier for a person to learn to play an instrument for pleasure later in life. This is because when you're younger, there are so many distractions. It's great fun learning the blues but don't forget that Bach and the like still have much to offer. Good luck with your quest. PS my most important bit of advice is to make sure you've got a piano.

CaressOfSteel asks:

Are you still a groovy fucker?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

It's very kind of you to enquire. I make every effort but it is harder these days with so many rules and regulations attached.

Righteous111 asks:

Why are so few metal bands on Later …?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

I agree we should have more metal bands on Later. Please write to the producer and suggest this.

askern asks:

I’ve seen so many bands live and close up, (I’m 68), and at the end of the day, even after being in front of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols and Dr Feelgood etc, the best I ever saw and heard was Banco del Mutuo Soccorso when they played the Outlook Club in Doncaster. Did you ever see or hear them? My favourite album of all time is Tales from Topographic Oceans [by Yes]. Why did punk have to come along and spoil GOOD music?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

There are three big questions there, and I have one for you. The answer to your first question is that, I fear, I never had the privilege of seeing and hearing Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. Secondly, also sadly, I've never been to the Outlook in Doncaster. And thirdly, I wouldn't agree with you that punk spoiled good music, as the first record I played on was by Wayne County and the Electric Chairs who were a New York punk group. The track, if you want to look it up, is titled Fuck Off. And finally my question for you is were you by any chance a member of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso when they played at the Outlook in Doncaster?

tomcasagranda asks:

You die, you go to piano-playing heaven, and God says: “You have a choice of three to spend all eternity with: Fats Domino, James Booker or Allen Toussaint.” Who would you choose, and why ?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

That would be a very difficult choice indeed as they were all wonderful artists and wonderful people. Ultimately, though, as we're talking eternity, I'd rather hope that the food was quite good. Therefore, I would choose the one of the three whose hobby was cooking. A man whose cooking I once enjoyed very much. And that was Fats Domino. We had gumbo in his house - it was delicious.

'Madonna came on The Tube in the 80s – don't know what happened to her'

ThePennyDropz asks:

Which artist have you had on your show that you think should’ve been huge but never was, for whatever reason?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

I remember having Madonna on The Tube back in the early 80s and I thought she'd go on to be very popular. But I don't know what happened to her.

AlasdairDickson asks:

The Groovy Fellers, the Channel 4 television series you made in 1989 with Tim Pope and Rowland Rivron, remains one of the most surreal programmes I’ve ever watched. It was also way ahead of the curve in terms of the psychogeographical films that have followed it, such as Patrick Keiller’s London and Andrew Kötting’s Gallivant. How did the idea for the programme come about, how much was improvised and, given that you travelled the breadth of the UK for the show, what are your most striking memories of the experience?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Thank you for the question, I'm pleased you remembered the Groovy Fellers directed by Tim Pope with me showing the world to Rowland Rivron, who was supposed to be a martian. It was made in the good old days when you just explained the thrust of an idea to a commissioning editor and then went away and made a programme. It was entirely improvised and I don't think I've been asked to do anything like it ever again since. Rowland Rivron is one of the great men of England.


'Do I worry someone might die before Hootenanny airs? Yes, me!'

vammyp asks:

Do you worry that someone performing on the [pre-recorded] Hootenanny might die before the end of the year, thereby shattering the illusion?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Yes. Very much so. And I particularly worry that the person might be me. Which would not only ruin your year but would ruin mine too.


Pete2boogie asks:

Your live gigs are one of the highlights of my year. Any plans to record one? It’s been a while since the last.

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Thank you for your question. I enjoy playing live which is why I do so many shows every year. You're quite right - our last live record was back in the early 90s. It's high time for another.

Dream duet? Bessie Smith on T'aint Nobody's Business

maidenover asks:

You can accompany or duet with any artist for one song. Who do you choose and what’s the song?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

I think I'd have Bessie Smith and I'd accompany her on T'aint Nobody's Business which she wrote.

diedug asks:

Recalling striking vignettes such as Cool for Cats and Up the Junction, what are your recollections of working with the songwriting team Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford? Do you miss working with such talented musicians?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

I have extremely fond memories of being in Squeeze. We were very good at making music. We also had an important part of what many successful groups have - and that was a shared sense of humour. An example of Squeeze's shared sense of humour would be illustrated through the following story, which also shows how our advanced sense of humour often backfired upon us. When we were promoting one of our first singles Take Me I'm Yours, we were invited to perform on the then groovy teatime kids show Magpie. We thought it would be hilarious if we all swapped instruments as we were miming. Afterwards it was pointed out to us by our TV promotions man that as nobody knew who we were anyway at this time, we would simply be mystifying the public and not serving much purpose of self promotion. I continue to work with Gilson Lavis who has been the drummer in my orchestra for the last 30 years and still write with Chris Difford, who was on tour with us last summer.

'I'm the only interviewer who can get people to sing the answers'

Smallbones asks:

Your enigmatic interview technique seems to have a better flow to it recently. Has there been any coaching? Congratulations on securing appearances from many of the great blues artists, some of whom are no longer with us. Were there any who you tried but failed to get on Later…?

User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

Thank you for your kind remarks - nothing has changed, but I've realised that I'm the only man living who can get people to sing the answers. In answer to the second part of your question, it's always a joy to get people from the world of the blues on the show. I was sorry we never got Willie Dixon on. Part of the job of our show is to be a home for music that doesn't have a home anywhere else on television.


User avatar for JoolsHolland Guardian contributor

I'm here and ready to answer your questions

Jools is with us now …

Follow along here.

Jools Holland in the Guardian offices for a webchat
Jools Holland in the Guardian offices. Photograph: Tim Jonze/The Guardian

Jools Holland webchat – post your questions now!

The conundrum of how to present live music on television is one that has foxed successive generations of TV producers – including, seemingly, those behind current BBC1 fiasco Sounds Like Friday Night – but one show has stood firm against the vagaries of fashion. Later... With Jools Holland celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, and for all that time, the presenter whose name it bears has never wavered in his enthusiasm for the many and varied acts passing through his studio. Rarely slick, always affable, Jools is the man who keeps the fire burning. So much so that as his annual Hootenanny rolls around again, thousands of people will choose to spend their New Year’s Eve with him rather than friends or family.

Before Later of course, Jools helmed a rather more anarchic TV music show, The Tube, which created its fair share of water-cooler moments – not least when he swore live at teatime. What was it like working and partying with Paula Yates, mingling with Bowie and Kate Bush, dodging Rik Mayall’s vomit or going down the pub with Miles Davis?

Before that, he was the keyboard player in Squeeze, featuring on hits like Cool for Cats and riding the new wave wave. And before that, his first job was playing on a single called Fuck Off by transgressive punk trailblazers Wayne County & The Electric Chairs – a baptism of fire if ever there was one. Since then, Jools has played piano with literally everyone, seemingly able to just plop himself down on the stool and lock into the groove of whoever’s playing. Right now he’s on tour with support from José Feliciano – who he’s collaborated with for a new album entitled As You See Me Now. It’s a packed schedule. So does Jools ever get nervous? Has he ever played a bum note and been bawled out by a tetchy rock star? Is there any group he wouldn’t play with if asked?

You can ask him all this, and more – like, did he really get expelled from school for wrecking a teacher’s car? What does he chat about with his good pal Prince Charles? – when he comes in for our webchat on Tuesday 21 November at midday. Simply post your questions in the comments below!


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