Sir John Phillip William Dankworth, known in his early career as Johnny
Dankworth, was an English jazz composer, saxophonist and clarinetist. He
was the husband of jazz singer Cleo Laine.
Born in Woodford, Essex, he grew up, within a family of musicians, in
Walthamstow in its suburb of Highams Park and attended Sir George
Monoux Grammar School in Walthamstow. He had violin and piano
lessons before settling eventually on the clarinet at the age of 16, after
hearing a record of the Benny Goodman Quartet. Soon afterwards,
inspired by Johnny Hodges, he learned to play the alto saxophone.
After studying at London’s Royal Academy of Music (where his jazz
interests were frowned upon) and then national service in the army, he
began a career on the British jazz scene