John Chilton

Yardley Gobion History Group

John Chilton was a British jazz trumpeter and writer. He was born in London in 1932. John and his brother Ron were both evacuated to Yardley Gobion where his home for six years was with Lonis Horton and his family in the High Street. Lonis was a member of the Yardley Gobion Band and bought John a cornet. John’s interest in jazz was sparked off by listening to Jelly Roll Morton on the Horton’s radio in 1944.

It was the headmaster of the village school, Eric Jones, who brought out John’s musical talent. “No one in my family was musical” said John. “It was Eric Jones who took a terrific interest in me and my music, who started me in my musical career.”

He switched to the trumpet at 17 and after doing national service in the RAF he formed his own jazz band. During the 1960s he also worked with pop bands, including The Swinging Blue Jeans. In January 1974 he formed John Chilton’s Feetwarmers, who began accompanying British jazz singer and writer George Melly.

In 2000 he won the British Jazz Award for Writer of the Year. Philip Larkin described his Who’s Who of Jazz as “one of the essential jazz books” and his autobiography, Hot Jazz, Warm Feet was published in 2007. John Chilton continued to play trumpet until he died in 2016.

Yardley Gobion evacuees