John Paley was a leading cornet player towards the end of the nineteenth century. Born in 1875 in Saltaire Bradford. He began his playing career along side his father in the Saltaire Prize Band when he was seven. In 1892 he left Black Dyke Mills band and went to America where he joined the famous Patrick Gilmore’s band. However, following the sudden death of the band’s founder, John came back to England and in 1893 was reappointed the Black Dyke Mills cornet soloist. A great conductor once asked him if he could play The Messiah. His reply – "I AM THE MESSIAH". Northern Philharmonic Orchestra was rehearsing a big choral work in the Bradford Methodist Hall and Sir Malcolm Sergeant was the conductor. When the rehearsal had started John Paley was nowhere to be seen. Then suddenly after about ten minutes the rehearsal door was flung open and in he came, striding out as though he owned the place. ‘Nah-then Malcolm’, he said, stopping the rehearsal in mid tracks. ’…You have Bottomley there, who used to be principal cornet at Black Dyke Mills, Brown another fine solo cornet player with that band, and Lang, present principal cornet player. And I, of course, was the greatest of the lot. Right-ho Malcolm, now lets get on wi rehearsal…’.
John Paley was 80 years old when he died on March 12 1955.
See below an interesting news report about John Paley: