Vale: Jon English


Performer Jon English, best known for the songs Hollywood Seven, Six Ribbons and his work on stage and screen has died, aged 66.

English died after suffering complications while undergoing surgery yesterday, after cancelling a show in Newcastle on Sunday due to ill health. He was performing until he very end.

“We are needless to say completely shocked and devastated by this enormous and unexpected loss,” a statement from his management read.

“The music industry, and indeed the world, has lost an incredible talent and the biggest of big hearts. We are inconsolable and will miss you immeasurably.”

English migrated to Australia from the UK at the age of 12 and rocketed to fame in the role of Judas Iscariot in stage productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, after outings with the band Sebastian Hardie.

It led to a pop career with such hits as Turn the Page, Hollywood Seven, Six Ribbons, Words Are Not Enough and Nights in Paradise. He was a regular performer on such shows and Countdown (where he also hosted), Hey Hey it’s Saturday, Blankety Blanks, King of Pop, Spicks and Specks and RocKwiz.

He also forged a successful acting career on stage and screen.

On television he was well-received as the convict Jonathan Garrett in the hit miniseries Against the Wind, also co-composing the theme song Six Ribbons. It was followed by a comedy role as rocker Bobby Rivers in Nine’s sitcom All Together Now, alongside Rebecca Gibney, Steve Jacobs and Jane Hall, which ran for 3 seasons.

Today both Gibney and Jacobs paid tribute.

“Just heard the news about Jon English. So incredibly sad. All Together Now was one of the joys of my career. My love to his family,” said Gibney.

“RIP Jon English. A great actor and true rock legend. An all round performer and gentleman. You will be missed mate,” wrote Jacobs.

“Jon English was a force of nature,” Jane Hall said. “He was incredibly smart, hard working and talented. To meet and work with him on All Together Now was an amazing and slightly surreal experience.”

“Jon English.Too sad.The best Judas.Generous on stage. What a privilege Rockwiz had you for a whole tour. xx” Julia Zemiro.

“Just hearing about Jon English. What a shame. Beautiful bloke. ” David Campbell.

“So incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Jon English, a talented and gifted man. Rest in peace my friend.” -Marcia Hines.

“I have fond memories of the great times back when all of us were starting out in this beautiful music industry,” Daryl Braithwaite said.

“Such sad news. Jon English., Great talent. Great bloke. Even made bags under the eyes fashionable.” -Derryn Hinch

“He was one of the loveliest people on earth,” Molly Meldrum told News Corp. “I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. And I never heard anyone say a bad word about him. And he was an incredible performer. Even before the spotlight was on him, the moment he walked on stage he was the spotlight. He had that presence. He had those piercing eyes.”

English also had a second stage career, notably in the revival of Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado, plus productions of Big River, Dad’s Army, Hairspray, Spamalot and The Removalists.

Performer / producer Simon Gallaher said, “He came from good working class stock and never forgot that, but just aspired to doing what he did and what he loved most which was entertaining.

“You put him in front of an audience and he just had to entertain.”

His own rock musical, Paris, was a labour of love, following the Lloyd-Webber path of releasing as an album prior to stage productions. Although it was performed a number of times, it never rose to the heights of being a commercial hit but it did win an ARIA -it will be performed by Warragul Theatre Company in May.

English continued to perform in pubs and bars across the country, winning MO Awards and Green Room Awards. He was interviewed on Studio 10 last month.

Known for his larrikin streak, he was frequently nicknamed “Ol’ Black Eyes.”

He was a rocker to the end…

Source: Fairfax


  1. Full Harddrive

    David, you might like to put a post on your blog to tell people that the memorial today is being telecast live on A-PAC from 5 to 7. I don’t know how else to view this channel other than on Foxtel. I’ve cleared some hardrive space for it. Will you be at the memorial?

  2. Really sad news. Jon was consistently great, whether on TV acting, singing or in musical theatre. Met him once after a pub gig. Could not have been nicer to everyone. Great interview on Studio ten with Jon. Watched it twice it was so good. Thanks for posting it.

  3. As a youngster i remember just how huge an entertainment staple Jon was in the 70’s, with JC Superstar & Against the Wind being massively popular. It wasn’t like today where we have multi channels to see talent from all over the globe, local stars were the beating heart of the industry back then. Kudos to anyone who can consistently entertain over a period of 30+ years, you will be sorely missed Jon, RIP

  4. Maev....Sydney

    Totally stunned…when I heard this on the way out this morning…much too young….
    Love his TV shows…and also his stage work….and his music… 🙁
    Thank you David Knox for a really great pic of the man.

  5. So sudden and so very sad.
    Loved Jon’s early songs such as Six Ribbons, Hollywood Seven and Turn The Page, as well as his performance in the mini series, Six Ribbons. His persona made for the perfect convict.
    As Julia Zemiro said, he was also the perfect Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar – he certainly looked the villain.
    Very memorable and unique looking with his tall, lanky build, pale blue, shadowy eyes, dark unruly hair and rugged looks. By all accounts a lovely, humble and charismatic man as well.
    Hopefully Rage will have a tribute this weekend…

    • With a little luck the will replay the Jon English hosts Rock And Roll Ballroom Of The Air at The Paddington Town Hall 1974 show, that they aired back on January 16th this year (he performed: Six Ribbons, Hollywood Seven 7, Turn The Page, Against The Wind, Paris, Seeds of Fire, Australian Jesus Christ Superstar Judas, Behind Blue Eyes, Get Your Love Right, Words Are Not Enough,Two Titans, Handbags And Gladrags, The Shining).

  6. Gosh, what a shock. Saw Jon many times over the years in variety of things; Superstar, Pirates, pubs and clubs and concerts. Always enjoyable. Another sad loss.

  7. I was quite the fan… had all his early albums, he was sensational in JC Superstar. The other week I spied a street poster with him performing at a local venue and thought it would be fun, but alas I never went. I always preferred Jon singing with the clear voice he had early in his pop career, not the gravel sound he moved towards. A born entertainer.

    • daveinprogress

      Like you David, I was an early fan. His early pop hits were a crucial part of my youth and his performances on Countdown and then as a witty panelist on Blankety Blanks, he became a personable face and voice in the entertainment landscape. Throw in his screen acting in both comedy and drama and then his stage musicals and you had a triple threat (maybe quadruple!!!) I saw him a year ago in my local Coles, and now i wish I had gone up to him and thanked him for the music and the memories. I thought about it, but….

    • Full Harddrive

      Was, and still am. Own everything he ever released.Thanks for the comprehensive summary of an awesome career. Hopefully Rage’s tribute will be equally far-ranging. I saw him a month or so ago with band at Cronulla. Fantastic songs awesome stage presense I witnessed 100s of time over 40 years. A hard working and gifted perfectionist.

      • daveinprogress

        Seems we really have to value our rockers and musos; especially the 60 somethings. Since 2016 started: Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Stevie Wright, Ross Hannaford and now Jon. (90 year old Sir George Martin too, but considerably older).

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