What can you say about our John?
Born in 1949 to George, an engineer and Hilda, an unpublished poet, John spent his childhood growing up in Salford, Lancashire.
After teenage years as a Mod, John served a few jobs including an apprentice engineer, a lab technician at Salford University (then Salford Tech, where he was interviewed by another Manchester hero Tony Wilson, before his Factory Record Days, for Granada TV) and also a lead type compositor. After a brief unsuccessful marriage, and a stint living in Dorset, John returned to Manchester and started properly on the path for which he would become most famous for, his poetry, giving recitals at clubs and venues around the city.
His biting, satirical, political and very funny verse delivered in his rapid-fire performance style resonated with the punk movement that had begin to pick up speed in the late 70s and saw him begin to draw huge crowds in his own right after touring with most of punk's seminal and ground breaking bands including Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, The Fall, Elvis Costello and Siouxsie and the Banshees, to name but a few. The steep rise in his profile soon saw him begin to be supported by some of the very bands he had opened up for a few years previously (New Order actually supported him on no fewer than seven separate occasions).
A figurehead for the movement and all that it encompassed, he became the “Punk Poet”, “The Bard of Salford” who found himself as one of the leading voices of punk and youth culture of the late 70s. Live he would find himself performing to thousands across the UK, crowds gathered with open eyes and ears gazing up at his distinctive, and now iconic visual appearance (tall and thin with a mess of black hair, black sunglasses, drainpipe trousers and cuban-heeled boots) all transfixed as he worked through a catalogue of work taken from his four studio albums and numerous singles.
The decline of punk also saw a decline in John the man. He spent most of the 80s in a fight with a serious heroin addiction which saw his output wane dramatically. A tough battle which thankfully saw him win and kick the habit in the early 90s during which time, he met his current partner, Evie, who is also mum to John's daughter, Stella, who was born in 1994.
So what of John now? Aside from being a key component of the punk movement which has shaped countless bands since and being a key orator of British society during this time, his mark is indelibly seen in today's pop culture. Aside from his fashion style spawning a number of copy-cats that stroll past you in pubs and clubs all over the country, his effect on modern music has been huge. His influence needs only to be heard in the satirical and keen social observations of the songs of bands like The Arctic Monkeys (Alex Turner cites JCC as a huge inspiration and john's work appears in the sleeve of one of their singles as well as Turner apparently having a JCC tattoo), Reverend and The Makers (John duetted with lead man John McClure on the b-side of the band's huge hit single ‘Heavyweight Champion Of The World') as well as platinum selling Plan B (another keen fan, asking John personally to appear in his directional film debut Ill Manors, which is out late 2011, as well as appearing on the soundtrack). Clarke's recording of "Evidently Chickentown' was also used in the closing scene of one of modern TV's most famous and respected television shows, The Sopranos.
The revival of the 70s punk phenomenon over the last few years has seen a whole new generation clamouring over John's work and watched his star rocket once again. A series of shows on leading new music station BBC Radio 6, which John presented, an appearance in the award winning Ian Curtis biopic Control (where he plays his younger self), numerous programs and nights dedicated to him on Sky TV and The Culture Show amongst others, as well as a multitude of festival appearances (Glastonbury, Latitude, Green Man, Electric Picnic as well as festivals in Holland and Belgium) have all cemented John's place in modern youth culture.
No bigger accolade and platitude of his work is that no less than 3 of his poems are now in the GCSE syllabus, including the remarkable Twat. He is studied by many A level students and his poetry is prolific within UK and Irish University courses, all ensuring that he will be forever ingrained in the psyche of Britain's new youth.
One of Britain's best loved and most important poets and performers, John is as vital now as he was then; continuing to write new work from his Colchester home, which he regularly performs live all over the UK and Ireland. JCC also featured on Radio 4's Chain Reaction in August being interviewed by none other than New Order's Peter Hook, John then interviewed Kevin Eldon a week later.
He's not going anywhere, and oh yeah that distinctive voice tempting you to buy pizza in the Dominos ad? Yep, that's our John.