Just when you think Jon English has done it all, from stage, screen and a music career to make any budding rockstar jealous, the home-grown rock and roll icon will be bringing his Rock Revolution Tour to Adelaide this Saturday. Jon assures me he’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and after reading this interview with him, you’ll know why.
Why Rock Revolution? Why now?
Rock Revolution is a natural progression from The Rock Show. The name refers to the cyclical nature of all trends, musical as well. They revolve in a sense. They seem to repeat themselves around an axis of about 15-20 years, or a generation if you like. The period between 1963-1980 (the period we are concentrating on) was the period when the majority of baby-boomers went from being teenagers (with all the accompanying emotional and hormonal upheavals) to something resembling adulthood (with its accompanying responsibilities). The baby-boomers were (and are) the largest demographic in history, so any trend that appealed to them was magnified accordingly by sheer weight of numbers. So, why now you ask? Why not? The time-space continuum was in alliance.
What can we expect from Rock Rev that we haven’t seen in your past live shows?
The Rock Show was enormously well received, and so Rock Revolution has more similarities than differences. There are however all new (old) songs, some different (but equally talented) players, and a look at some artists and trends we neglected in The Rock Show eg. Motown, the Blues influences. Still the usual suspects though, Beatles, Stones, Janis Joplin, Hendrix, Queen etc.
I’m 22 and grew up watching All Together Now as a young child – what’s it like knowing your presence has spanned so many decades and different mediums – television, music and stage (Pirates of Penzance)
In a sense, the entertainment industry is a lot like every other business in that you ‘adapt or die’! I simply tried to re-invent myself according to what was on hand. That and I was just plain lucky!
Rock music, especially that which harkens back to the glory days of the 60s and 70s really stands out in today’s musical climate. What do you think the future is for rock when music is dominated with pop, dance and generic-sounding songs?
Well for one thing, music is a very emotional, subjective medium. I’ve seen fist-fights start over who was the better band or act in my day. Google ‘top ten’ anything and you’re bound to disagree with at least 1/3rd of them. Personally I think contemporary music has slid into one of those predictable, boring phases but fear not. Somewhere (usually a most unlikely place) there are a bunch of young, creative people who are nurturing their own new-ish, exciting brand that will soon emerge and take the world by storm. It is a revolution you see?
Someone of your stature must have more than a few stories to tell when it comes to touring and rock and roll – care to share?
Love to, how much time/space have you got? Actually there’s a book coming but just a quick Adelaide based one;
My first fair-dinkum actual ‘in front of people that were actually listening’ performance was at the Adelaide Arts Festival, Easter 1972. We were in front of a few thousand ‘dressed-to-the-nines’ dignitaries in the opening performance of Jesus Christ Superstar (concert production) at the Memorial Drive tennis courts in Adelaide. Outside the gates were five hundred angry Christians and I was just getting over the flu. If you live through that, then there’s not much more show-biz can throw at you that will make you squirm. For the record, it was a pretty good gig!
What’s next for you after Rock Revolution?
A couple of quieter acoustic gigs with my mate Peter Cupples, then a Foster Brothers reunion tour (30 years, oh my god!) then off to the Swedish Rock Festival in June, then a pro-am production of ‘Hairspray’ in Sydney then… am I boring you yet? Suffice to say, I’m not retiring.