Jack Phelan, New England Jazz and Ragtime Piano Player has Died

Jack Phelan RagtimeDr. John V. Phelan, Jr. passed away on November  28th in Massachusetts, he was 95. He served in the Navy during WWII and reenlisted into the Air Force Medical Corps during the Korean War. After returning home he had a fulfilling career, settling down to an obstetrics practice and delivering over 10,000 babies.

Classically trained on piano he became enamored by ragtime and boogie woogie during his teen years. His lifelong passion for traditional jazz led him to form the Scollay Square Stompers in the mid 1970s. He also performed with other bands around the northeast, most recently The New Liberty Jazz Band. He was close friends with many in the New England traditional jazz community including Jimmy Mazzy, Eli Newberger, other past and present members of the New Black Eagles, and countless others.  Over the years he regularly hosted practices, jam sessions, and memorable private parties at his home.


As a ragtimer he appeared at the Toronto Ragtime Festival and other events. He regularly performed his own composition, “Thumbtack Rag”, written during his college years. He helped bring the New Orleans Ragtime Ensemble and other musicians to New England for performances. Much of his large record collection of early American music was transferred to the Library of Congress.


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