Allan Hodgkins –
Appreciation by his Relatives and Friends
A cousin of the above-mentioned guitarist would like to point out that in the few instances that he has seen his name mentioned it has been miss-spelt, his name was ALLAN HODGKINS. He was actually a generation removed from him and was actually his mother`s first cousin and lived for most of his adult life in East Ham, London. Probably an A&R notation of a misheard surname. – I do not know whether he had any formal musical training, however, he was a teacher of the guitar and I remember him telling me of his teaching Bert Weedon in the late 30’s. I never saw him play in public, only at home, in duets with his cousin (my uncle Leslie Hodgkins) and he was a wonderful improviser, and played solos with the same power and attack as Django. I often heard him speak of his sometime fellow accompanist Jack Llewellyn for whom he had a very high regard. In the early post-war years when Reinhardt and Grappelli came to England they were compelled to employ British Musicians by the Musicians Union which gave a few of our jazz guitarists a great opportunity. Alan played with many of the well known bands in the 40`s & 50`s, I particularly remember his talking about Henry Hall and Nat Temple. His professional career was shortened early by reason of his contracting Epilepsy.
I can corroborate most of this.
Allan was my great Uncle. Allan’s name was Allan Hodgkins. He did have the ‘double ‘l’ spelling of Allan. I’ve been told the variations in name were done for recording reasons. He did indeed live most of his life in East Ham. His parents were musical and he had 8 brothers and sisters many who also played musical instruments. I know his widow and she says he taught Bert Weedon and also says that he didn’t really rate him! He certainly played with Nat Temple, I’ve seen some pictures. He did have epilepsy and lost his job at the BBC as a result. Mark Stevenson
Jack Llewellyn (Centre) – Ike Isaacs and Bert Weedon talk Guitars.
George Shearing visited Allan‘s Flat at 204a Burgess Road, London E15 on several occasions and he may then have been thinking of his unison Piano/Guitar/Vibes Sound. Allan’s 2nd wife survives him and she still has his record collection. She is a lovely lady who had known him for a long while before they married. They were both teaching Art at Barking College and at local schools in the East Ham area. She will, no doubt, have many other reminiscences which we hope to publish.
Hi, – It was very pleasing to come across your website that referred to Allan Hogkins. Alan was a very close friend of mine for several years. I met him through a boyfriend Peter Gillingham who also lived in Burgess Road, East Ham. Alan taught him Jazz Guitar, Peter was very grateful to Alan For all that he taught him on the guitar. Peter was not without talent and flourished with Allan’s support. Alan taught both us so much about music and Art. For about 3 or 4 years we spent at least 3 days a week together. Visiting Art Gallery’s, Museums, Exhibitions and of course Ronnie Scott’s and met many fine Jazz musicians that Allan had known and played with. There were many stories that he shared with us. Undoubtedly his most musically treasured moments had been when he played with Django. He gave a signed photo of Django to Peter. I say this to show how close Peter and Alan were. We were very fond of Glad – Allan’s 1st wife who sadly died. I was glad to hear Gloria, Alan and Glads daughter is still alive. Allan loved her dearly and spent time with her and family in Bermuda where they lived. I think Art (Ellefson?), Gloria’s husband played with Gerry Mulligan. It’s also nice to know that one of his twin boys is alive in Australia. I have a copy of the photo you published of Allan in the 1940’s with his Gibson Guitar I believe which he still had and played in the late 60s.
Allan was an unusual man for his time interested in many things that lots of working class people didn’t normally experience or share. Every week Alan would go to see his father. Alan said he used to keep him interested in life with a mutual row as he loved to argue. As a boy Allan had drawn pictures of Rockets with predicted speeds they would travel at. Allan’s father crossed out the speeds Allan had written and correcting him wrote things like 50/80 miles per hour.
Allan also thought a great deal of his brother and told me a story of how his brother had been brought back to England after being injured in the 2nd world war. All the men were laid out on the cliffs and were left for dead with next of kin coming to identify them. His brothers wife found him unable to move or hear, his ear drums having been blown out. While I knew Allan, his brother restored his hearing with the advent of plastic ear drums. The fact that science had progressed to be able to do this delighted Allan. He also said his brother found everything was too loud now. ( I think maybe he was giving me some hope of getting my hearing back as I had lost mine in one ear due to Measles when I was a child.) Hearing was obviously so important to Allan.
Allan had a lovely flat with a very stylish front room where in younger days they had entertained some very interesting people that he had photos of. It was the place of many parties where there had been great improvisational Jams by very talented musicians. He had a fantastic collection of records which we would sit and listen too as he introduced us to favourite pieces of his. Jazz, blues and classic’s. This would often be a very emotional experience sitting till it got dark watching sunsets from the front room bay window as the sun set over the roof tops. Sometimes reading poetry out loud or silently. Allan liked poetry and I have many poems that he wrote in letters to me. He had lots of his own paintings on the walls. He also had a superb collection of African Art which he eventually sold by going to auction and I believe it was bought by one of the London Museums. He had also done many wood carvings of his own.
He had a very fine collection of Art Books, one of which he gave to me. He also did a portrait of me which I sat for. He worked in oils which was not a medium he normally usually used or particularly liked. I still have this, a beautiful reminder of our friendship. I also bought a painting of his for my uncle which was in the style of Jackson Pollock. I hope to recover it one day. Allan was not just instrumental in both my own and Peters education about the arts but also about the world and it’s politics, about how to make it a better place where everyman irrespective of class or position, race or creed can strive to realize their dreams and make their life enriched because of their inherent thirst for knowledge. I eventually went to Drama School and I have since parted from Peter. The last time I saw Allan he told me he was getting married as I knew he had been wooing his 2nd wife but sadly I never met her. I hope you have enjoyed reading some of my memories of a man I will always be grateful to have known. Allan also appeared in two British Movies and can be seen on stage playing the guitar in the one staring Jean Simmons it might have been called ‘Way to the Stars‘ 1945 in which she played a Wartime Band Singer). Warmest regards, Gillian H
How nice to hear from you all and I am grateful for your added insight to Allan Hodgkins’ personality and artistic prowess. He certainly seemed a man for all seasons and a caring individual with an ability to create and appreciate both his own aspirations and artistic abilities of others . I was nice to be able to flesh him out on the website as so many of these men were simply names on a recording’s personnel listings – JazzEddie