Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Passings: Australian Singer, Songwriter & Actor Jon English (1949 - 2016)

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

Singer songwriter and actor Jon English has died after complications from surgery.

Jon suffered the complications after undergoing surgery yesterday, March 9, 2016. At the time of his passing he was surrounded by his four children, Jessamin, Josephine, Jonnie and Julian, his wife Carmen, his sister Janet, his brother Jeremy, his nephews Jay and Jasper Collie and other close family members.

Jon English official biography

Jon English was born in Hamstead, London on 26 March 1949, Jon came to Australia with his parents, Syd and Sheila, and 3 siblings, Janet, Jeremy and Jill, at the age of 12.

In the early 70’s Jon auditioned for Harry M Miller’s first production of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was given 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 the time Jon was touring with Superstar, he also recorded four albums. He had hits with songs such as Handbags and Gladrags, Turn the Page (his first number one) and Hollywood Seven. At the same time he appeared in guest roles on popular television drama shows including No 96, Matlock Police, and the Homicide telemovie, Stopover.

1977 culminated with Jon’s fifth album and third number one hit single Words Are Not Enough, and a concert tour with the band, Thin Lizzy. He then took a short break from the rock music scene in 1978 when he appeared in the lead role of the popular television mini-series, Against the Wind. Jon won a Best New Talent Logie for his performance as convict, Jonathan Garrett, in the series.

Jon wrote the score for Against the Wind. He also co-wrote the theme song, Six Ribbons, which became a number one hit in more than six countries. As a result of Against the Wind, Jon 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 also released in 1978. This ‘best of’ album made history at the time by becoming the largest selling double album in Australia. Albums number eight, nine, and ten followed in 1980, 1981 and 1982 – Calm Before the Storm, Inroads, and Jokers and Queens (with Marcia Hines).

Jon’s first collaboration with producer David Mackay began in 1983, with his twelfth album Some People. This collaboration saw the beginnings of a partnership that would eventually give birth to the rock opera, Paris.

1984 saw Jon’s first appearance as the Pirate King alongside Marina Prior, Simon Gallaher, and June Bronhill in the Victorian State Opera’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. As Pirate King he won the Melbourne Critic’s Green Room Award for Most Outstanding Actor on two occasions during the season.

Jon took on the lead role of Bobby Rivers in 1991 in the television sitcom All Together Now, co-starring Rebecca Gibney. The show, about a faded seventies rock star who discovers parenthood late in life, lasted for three years and over a hundred episodes. Jon again wrote the theme song and was musical director for the series. All Together Now was sold in over thirty countries, including Germany where it was called Rock and Roll Daddy.

Jon worked alongside Simon Gallaher again in 1994 when Simon produced an updated version of the Pirates of Penzance. With Jon again as the Pirate King, the show played to sell-out crowds around Australia and New Zealand and grossed over 13 million dollars at the box office. The ABC produced video of Pirates has now sold triple platinum, and the live album won the ARIA award for best cast album. This ARIA bought Jon’s personal tally to four.

The success of Pirates of Penzance was followed up with another two Gilbert and Sullivan classics – The Mikado and HMS Pinafore. With Jon again cast in the lead roles, both shows opened to critical and public acclaim, touring extensively throughout New Zealand and Australia, until Pinafore finally closed the hugely successful ‘trilogy’ in October 1997.

In early 2009 Jon also teamed up with a troupe of multi talented, multi instrumentalist young rockers to produce a spectacular 10 piece tribute to the 60’s and 70’s rock generation called The Rock Show. At the time of his passing, he was still performing regularly in a variety of music shows.
A public service celebrating Jon’s life will be held with details to be released shortly.


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