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…