Pete Chilver

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Peter William Chilver (19 October 1924 – 16 March 2008) was a British guitarist and hotelier.

As a jazz musician, Chilver is credited with having established the electric guitar in Britain, encouraged by Trinidadian guitarist Lauderic Caton.[1]


Born in Windsor, Berkshire, England, Chilver learned to play the piano as a schoolboy before taking up the guitar. He left school at 16 to work as a draughtsman, but formed a band to play weekends at Skindles Hotel near Maidenhead Bridge. He became known as a performer during the Second World War, at first in Maidenhead and Slough, but then also in London with increasingly prominent bands, including those of Johnny Claes, Teddy Foster, and Jimmy Mesene. During this time Chilver also played with visiting American musicians serving in the military, including John Lewis, Kenny Clarke and Art Pepper.

In 1946, Chilver joined Ray Ellington, then Tito Burns, and during 1947 worked with Jack Jackson, George Shearing, and Stéphane Grappelli. By then, Chilver was one of the most prominent British bebop musicians. He played with Ted Heath and Ambrose and, as a guest with the Skyrockets, accompanied Benny Goodman.[2] In 1949, he was with Ronnie Scott and Johnny Dankworth in Alan Dean's Beboppers.

In 1950, Chilver married Norma Domenico, the sister of Ted Heath's singer Lydia MacDonald, and ceased playing professionally. Chilver moved to Scotland in that year and managed a hotel in North Berwick and also a jazz venue and restaurant in Edinburgh. He died in Edinburgh in 2008, aged 83.[1]