Jon English - It's All A Game
Why Another Tribute Article?
The recent sudden and shocking news of Robin Williams death and all the tributes that have flooded the Internet, social media and television made me stop and think. Why do we wait until our favourite stars, celebrities and loved ones pass away before we write tributes to them to say how much they meant to us?
If we let them and the world know how important they are and how they make our lives better while they are alive, maybe just maybe it would be enough to avoid sad situations like that of Robin Williams.
That being said, I sat down to think about some of my favourite singers, actors, human beings in general. Jon English was the first who came to mind. The clincher for writing this tribute was when I went to Jon's Facebook page and saw a tribute post from him to Robin Williams. Well this one's for you Jon!
Singer Jon English Dead at 66
When I checked Facebook this morning I was greeted by this sad announcement:
"The English-born rock star died on Wednesday night (9th March) following a small operation for an aortic aneurysm.
A statement released by the 66-year-old's music label, Ambition Music Group, confirmed his death.
"It is with great sadness that we commemorate the passing of Jon English," the statement said on Thursday."
Please click the following link to read more:
*Please read this article I wrote as a tribute to Jon, shortly after the tragic death of Robin Williams.
R.I.P. Jon English
A True Fan
I was about 13 or 14 years old when the amazing Rock Opera 'Jesus Christ Superstar' first took Australia by storm. I was too young to attend but I followed the media coverage and watched clips of the show on the news and TV. One of the stars of the show was a 22 year old named Jon English paying Judas Iscariot. With his mysterious dark eyes, energetic stage presence and powerful voice he was getting rave reviews and gaining thousands of fans. I was one of them.
I had only recently begun to get seriously interested in music mostly thanks to Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Johnny O'Keefe. Before that I had mainly only listened to my parents choice of country and western classics. I was open for a new Australian music idol.
While still performing in 'Jesus Christ Superstar' Jon English released his first solo album 'Wine Dark Sea'. I didn't manage to buy that one, but I made sure I purchased his second 'It's All A Game'. The single from this album was 'Turn the Page' and it became a number 1 in the Australian top 40, though it was far from my favourite song on the album. It was in fact also the only track that Jon English didn't write himself.
Some of my preferred tracks on this album are the wonderfully rollicking 'Space Shanty,' as well as 'He Could Have Been a Dancer,' 'Love Goes On' and 'Snake Eyes.' Most people haven't even heard of these songs because they weren't released as singles, but 'It's All A Game' remains my favourite album to this day.
Early English History (1948-1979)
He is an Australian entertainment icon - from stage, screen, and song, Jon English has been entertaining Australian audiences for over 40 years with his amazing array of talents.
Jonathan James “Jon” English was born on March 26, 1949 in Hampstead, London, His family migrated to Australia when he was 12. John is one of a select group of Australian performers who have successfully combined a career in music as a singer, song writer and composer, and as an actor on both television and stage.
His musical passion and skill were evident early and before he graduated high school he had been a member of two bands – Zenith and Sebastian Hardie with who Jon played rhythm guitar and sang. In 1968 Sebastian Hardie was employed as the backing band for "The Wild One" Johnny O’Keefe’.
In the early ‘70s English auditioned for Harry M Miller’s first production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. He was awarded the prestigious and demanding lead role of ‘Judas’ at the age of just 22. The show’s phenomenal success kept him busy for the next five years, touring all over Australia and New Zealand.
During this time Jon also recorded his first four albums. the first of these was titled 'Wine Dark Sea' on which he was assisted by some members of the 'Jesus Christ Superstar' chorus band. His debut single from this album,‘Handbags and Gladrags' became his first hit. His second album 'It's All a Game,' produced his first number one song 'Turn the Page' and another hit soon followed with the popular 'Hollywood Seven’ the title track of his third album. Jon's fourth album 'Minutes to Midnight' had three singles released but neither the album or singles realised Australian top 40 chart success.
He was soon appearing in guest roles on popular television drama shows including ‘No 96’, ‘Matlock Police,’ 'The Flying Doctors,' 'Bellamy,' 'Chopper Squad' and the tele-movie, Stopover, for which he received a Penguin award nomination for Guest Actor of the Year. English described these roles "I was doing a lot of police shows in those days. I got to do them all. I was always a drug-crazed axe murdering hippy."
For the rest of the ‘70s Jon English was constantly in the public eye as an actor and musician. He sang the title role on the soundtrack of the rock opera ‘Ned Kelly’. He starred in the play ‘Bacchoi’, co-wrote lyrics for a ballet called ‘Phases’ and produced his old band’s first album, ‘Four Moments by Sebastian Hardie’.
Jon won an Aria award for best male vocal performance for ‘Turn the Page’ and was voted RAM magazine’s best male singer on three separate occasions. 1977 culminated with his fifth album and the hit single ‘Words are Not Enough’, plus a concert tour with the band, ‘Thin Lizzy’.
In 1978 Jon English took a short break from the rock music scene in 1978 when he appeared in the lead role of the incredibly popular television mini-series, ‘Against the Wind’. He won a ‘Best New Talent’ Logie for his performance as convict Jonathan Garrett in the series and in partnership with his friend Mario Millo, English wrote all the soundtrack music including the theme song, ‘Six Ribbons’, which became a number one hit in more than six countries. As a result of ‘Against the Wind’, Jon English became one of the rare performers to win an acting Logie and a TV Week/Countdown award (for best male vocalist) in the same year.
‘English History’, Jon’s next and seventh album was released in 1978. This was a‘best of’ album and made history by becoming the biggest selling double album in Australia.
Hit song from the popular mini-series "Against the Wind"
Recent English History (1980- )
Jon English's eighth, ninth, and tenth albums followed in 1980, 1981 and 1982 – ‘Calm Before the Storm’, ‘Inroads’ and ‘Jokers and Queens’ (with Marcia Hines). ‘Calm Before the Storm’ produced the hit singles ‘Carmilla’ and ‘Hot Town’. During this time Jon also appeared in and wrote the theme song for a feature film called ‘Touch and Go.'
From 1983 to 1985, Jon English won four Mo Awards, three consecutive 'Entertainer of the Year' awards and a further 'Male Vocal Performer' in 1985.
During 1990—93, Jon English played the main role of Bobby Rivers in the TV sitcom 'All Together Now.' His role of a lovable faded rock star displayed his acting and comedy skills during 101 episodes of the show.
Jon has continued to perform in Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas 'The Pirates of Penzance', The 'Mikado' and 'H.M.S. Pinafore' and performances of the Gilbert and Sullivan trilogy were broadcast on Australian TV from 1994 to 1997. They have all since been released on VHS and subsequently on DVD. (source:wikipedia)
As well as being a noted theatre, stage, television and rock music performer, English has written film and television scores/soundtracks and numerous songs – his writing credits include a song called "Oh, Paris", about the hero Paris, of Trojan War mythology. Collaboration with producer/composer David Mackay led to the 1990 release of a sound track 'Paris: A Love Story.' The cast for the recording included: John Waters,Terence Donovan, Barry Humphreys, Doc Neeson, Philip Quast, Demis Roussos and was backed by the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Choir. The album sold 50,000 copies and won the 1991 ARIA award for 'Best Original Soundtrack / Cast / Show Recording' for Jon English and David Mackay.
The musical 'Paris' premiered in Melbourne in 2004 at the National Theatre and in Adelaide in 2008 at the Marie Clark Musical Theatre.
Jon English appeared as Sergeant Wilson in stage productions of 'Dad's Army' which toured Australia and New Zealand in 2004.
In 2009, he toured in a new production called, "The Rock Show", a revue featuring classic rock music of the '60s and '70s featuring songs by the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Bob Dylan, and Elton John and other high profile musicians of those eras. In 2010, "The Rock Show" made two appearances in Tasmania in support of the "Save the Tasmanian Devil" breeding programme of which English is an ambassador.
Since August 2010, he has performed the title role in 'The Removalists', a play by David Williamson at the Perth Theatre Company.
Jon was again in Tasmania in March 2012, for a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, in which he played the role of Pontius Pilate.
In 2013 Jon English was invited to play the famous Sweden Rock Festival, the biggest rock festival in Scandinavia where he was backed up by Swedish hard rock band Spearfish and shared stage with bands like Kiss, Rush, Europe, Accept, Saxon, Asia etc. Jon English entire show was recorded and filmed for a possible future release. (source: wikipedia)
Jon is currently as busy as ever in 2014 touring with the 'Six is Enough' band, and the 'Foster Brothers'. He is also performing in the stage production of Monty Python's 'Spamalot' alongside Simon Gallaher and Julie Anthony, and for the first time will perform at the Gympie Country Music Muster.
Live from Jesus Chrst Superstar
Have you heard of Jon English or any of his songs or shows?
© 2014 John Hansen