John Howard – the lad done good!

Posted: January 20, 2013 in Chat
Tags: , , ,

It’s when you think back and say: However did that happen? And then all manner of half memories, false memories come nudging forward.

So, if I am honest – I have no idea.

We were still young then, early twenties; then suddenly he was there, tall, very lean, long straight hair, round glasses. Not that prepossessing, perhaps?  No, that was probably me. But he carried a certain something about him, the mystique of promise, an undefined sense of being someone with a Future.

I remember he crashed at my place one night. We had him play at our local folk club: he was a pianist, and luckily their rickety box was in tune. It was then we knew what it was about him. Not only was he an excellent pianist, but a cracking good songwriter as well. I still remember some of those songs from … well, a good many years ago now.

He had great performance skills, great charisma: he was alive in his music, larger than life.

Shortly after we heard he’d made the break, skipped out to London. He had to, there was nothing for him in the back places of the north.

Then an album: Kid in a Big World.

There he was on the cover looking Completely different! Shorter hair, shirt-and-tie… was that a suit?! I always have thought suits an invention of the devil. Ok, we understood the business, how it can make you turn inside out if it wants to.

What happened? It was the heyday of the Radio 1 dj: they could break any band or singer, if they fitted in with the sound. If they didn’t, then no chance.

The radio didn’t like his album singles: Goodbye Suzie (“Depressing”); Family Man (“Too anti-marriage”).

He had a three-record deal, the second was not developed, just shelved; the third, fell into silence on release. He just couldn’t get any air play.

He gave gigs, performed, pushed himself, did the business; but no dice. He went the route from in front of mixing desk to behind it. Arranging for other people. He’d be good at that; his own arrangements were always excellent. He hung on in there for some time. Still trying to crack the business. Still getting nowhere.

But it just didn’t make sense: he had great talent; he was doing the right stuff – what was the prob?

Someone whispered in his ear: he was too ‘out’ for those backward days: they didn’t like his openly gay-ness: you had to be secretive, stifled and tormented.

Eventually he packed it in! Can you imagine what that must have felt like?

But of course he couldn’t; started playing small clubs, performing – you just don’t finish, like that.

His arrangements were inventive, some would say ‘lush’ but I wouldn’t. He could match Bowie in his own way. Then came the lean years, and punk. He was no way punk.

It would come as no surprise he and his partner got out again – Spain this time. His own studio to work in; a local recording studio to put it on tape.

And then rediscovered!

Can you imagine – the queries suddenly coming in out of nowhere? Reissued that first album – and it started selling!

He’s pumped out the albums since then. Great stuff, too: live shows, and studio recordings. For a taster try his Soundscapes: v highly recommended!

He has his own webpage; has his own YouTube channel.

At last we can say it: The lad done good!

http://www.kidinabigworld.co.uk/

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Comments
  1. viennafamous says:

    Nice feelgood story (eventually!). Sounds like you could play at being camp like Bowie, but not actually be it for real- the same thing happened to Jobriath, the ‘other’ Bowie, sank without a trace and is only now visible again, with a documentary about his life…

  2. Me? No, I didn’t do camp (not intentionally, anyway). I was always more interested in people who had that something special, call it talent or whatever. The other stuff didn’t matter. The itch of creativity in people.

  3. John Howard says:

    Hello Michael. I came across this today checking my YouTube channel, your page and your blog came up. Much appreciate your piece. I have fond memories of playing the folk clubs in Manchester in the ’70s. Hope you don’t mind but I’ve shared it to Twitter and Facebook. (There’s a ’72 demo track just up on my YouTube channel, one of the songs I would have played at the folk club back then).

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