What a sad day! I used to live not far from John, and paid him a visit
some years ago. He lived in a beautiful old cottage in a beautiful
His talents put me to shame. Many of you will know this, but for those
who don't, this is what he did, amongst many other things. Apart from
being an accomplished jazz piano player, he had extraordinary roll
cutting expertise. He told me that he scoured junk shops for old 78s
of the old '20s, '30s and '40s jazz piano music which he would then
re-record to an old reel-to-reel tape recorder so that he could move
the tape by hand. He could then pick out each individual note, its
duration and pitch, and then he hand-punched the notes onto a master
roll. It could take a month to complete one piece.
Then he would play his master on his Steck PEDA. He could then edit
his work, with marking pen and bits of tape, until he was satisfied
that he had a true reproduction of the 78 record. This precious master
was then sent to the U.S. to be replicated. The labels containing
a "played by" line acknowledging the original artist, and there was
a limited production of each roll.
I tried to buy rolls from him, but he was strict in his policy and
agreements with the U.S. roll producers, so I had to buy from them.
Thankfully, I have a small collection of his work, including original
John Farrell creations.
We have truly lost a very nice man and a great talent. My heart goes
out to his family, to whom I send my sincerest condolences.