Bill Polain


Bill's musical career started in Adelaide at the age of seven, in a kid's band. By age 10 he was a drummer in a brass band and at age 14 moved on to brass instruments.

Bill started playing professionally in 1957, at age eighteen. At twenty-three he hit the jazz scene, joining Eddie White and His All Stars.

Other bands that Bill has had long stints with include Roger Hudson's Eumenthol Jazz Jubes and Peter Hooper's Royal Garden Jazz Band which he joined in 1984. The Royal Garden Jazz Band is still in great demand for jazz festivals, corporate work and pub gigs. The current lineup is Derek Dalton trumpet, Bill Clark clarinet and saxophone, James Clark bass, Gordon Coulson trombone, with Peter Hooper on banjo and Bill on drums. Other recognised greats that Bill has worked with on the Australian jazz scene include Bob Barnard and the late Tom Baker.

Bill is equally at home on trombone, tuba and drums. His versatility across a range of jazz styles makes him a much sought after musician for gigs and recording sessions alike. He is renowned among musicians for his uncanny musical ear and "great chops". (Little wonder. Since 1955 his day gig has been as a butcher!)

Surprisingly, when asked who his major musical influences have been, Bill cites vocalists rather than brass players or drummers; great names such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. Their legacy is evident in the impeccable phrasing of a Polain solo.

Two of Bill's sons have followed in the old man's musical footsteps. Bradley is an internationally recognised jazz, big band and rock drummer, while David worked in the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for some years and is now in the South Australian Police Band playing trombone and tuba. He has toured internationally with the band.