Jack formed his first band in 1939 (aged 14) with Bob Seery on drums. The band was known as Jack’s Whitecoats. A few months later, Bob joined the Australian Military Forces and went to war. Jack too young to enlist, had special permission to regularly play piano in the City Hotel. He was accompanied by his mother who sewed a special pair of long pants for her son to wear. Various allied soldiers threw money at the piano for requested songs as Mum counted and stored the winnings. Jack made more money from tips than from his hotel earnings.
By 1943, Jack had joined the RAAF and 3 months later, was seconded to Z Special Unit. In 1945 when war was over, the band reformed with Bob Seery.