Biography  1930-57, 1958-65, 1966-85, 1986-88 Next


 Early years 1930-1957 (1 of 7)

Touring and  performing, radio and TV debuts


Thunderclap Jones 1956

Douglas Morgan Jones, was originally from Capel Isaf, Llanelli Wales and born on 19th. July 1929. At the age of 11 he taught himself piano. He had found a  battered old self -tutor in the piano stool at his school and made quick progress to master to instrument. One day he listened to his uncle playing Beethoven's piano sonata in D major and from that day he devoted all his attention to classical music.  He worked hard and all his spare time was spent in the local library reading orchestrations, harmony, counterpoint and the rudiments of music.

At the age of 12 he wrote a piano Concerto in C major.  At 16 he won The International Eisteddfod of Wales for piano playing. He then studied teaching at Trinity College Carmarthen (now part of the University of Wales) and went on to become a school teacher at his old school, The Godolphin and The Grove school specialising in mathematics, physics and music.

He then did a  spell of national service and joined the RASC (The Royal Army Service Corps) but was later transfered to the Royal Scots, at the time the oldest regiment in the British army. In the army his piano playing attracted attention. He was asked to play a Chopin recital before the Princess Royal, Princess Mary, Duchess of Harewood (The Queen's aunt). He joined the Regimental Band and toured Denmark with them where he appearded before the Danish Royal family'

After his demob he returned to teaching at his old school in Slough as a music teacher. There, he introduced a new method of musical appreciation which enabled 8 year olds to understand classical music and enjoy it. But the strain of teaching large classes was too much for him and he resigned.

Undecided which career to follow and short of money he took a job on the railways as a labourer. He had to give it up after one month as badly bruised hands were damaging his piano playing. He said at the time that he was paid more more as a labourer than as a teacher.

In the picture below  he is entertaining railway workers in 1956. Picture courtesy of Harry Hammond Photographic Collection, acquired by the V&A.

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