‘Muppet Show’ Band Leader Dies

British jazz drummer Jack Parnell, who served as bandleader on “The Muppet Show,” has died at age 87.

His family says Parnell died at home in Southwold, eastern England, yesterday following a yearlong battle with cancer.

Parnell was born in 1923, the son of a showbiz family and began drumming professionally as a teenager.

As musical director at British broadcaster ATV from the late 1950s, he oversaw the music for long-running variety show “Sunday Night at the London Palladium,” and produced specials featuring Tom Jones and Barbra Streisand.

In 1976, ATV began producing “The Muppet Show,” a musical variety show with a cast of Jim Henson puppets and celebrity human guest stars. Parnell conducted the orchestra for the whole of the series’ five-year run, although the ostensible bandleader was the pop-eyed Muppet conductor, Nigel.