04 June, 2012

Ken Sykora

Ken Sykora, born Charles Kenneth Sykora was a British jazz guitarist and radio presenter.

Sykora was born in 1923 in Fulham, London and studied geography at the University of Cambridge, where he organized the Cambridge University Band Society. He then studied business and economics at the London School of Economics. During World War II, he served as an intelligence officer in the Far East. After the war he taught in London at the London School of Economics and the College for Distributive Trades. Influenced by guitarist Django Reinhardt, he led his own band in the 1950s, appearing with other bandleaders such as Ted Heath. During this time he appeared on the Melody Maker reader's poll for best British jazz guitarist for five consecutive years and won it twice.

He worked on radio for the BBC and hosted the popular BBC program Guitar Club. For BBC Radio 2, he created and presented the program series Be My Guest, interviewing Count Basie, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Andrés Segovia, Isaac Stern and Gloria Swanson, among others. In January 1962 he was a guest on Desert Island Discs.

In the 1970s, Sykora and his family moved to Scotland, where the couple ran a hotel in Colintraive on the Kyles of Bute. After five years he sold the hotel, moved to Blairmore and continued to produce music programs for BBC Radio Scotland and for Radio Clyde.

Sykora died in Blairmore on 7 March 2006.

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