Since leaving in 17 he has had career which many can only dream about, from working alongside some of the most famous musicians in the world to an actor on Hollywood’s biggest films including being Gerard Butler’s hand double.
For those with slightly shorter memories or a powerful sense of nostalgia, John will be talking about his life and career on Saturday, January 20, starting at 7.30pm at Daventry Working Men’s Club.
The event has been organised by Daventry Friends of Cancer Research UK.
Our chat, which lasts half an hour, takes in a wide range of subjects and John has a remarkable clarity for someone who, by his own admission, struggles with dates.
Born in Scotland but moving to Daventry when he was three, it was a chance Christmas present that led to a career as a musician.
“I would have been about 12 and was with mum and dad, and they asked what I wanted for Christmas and I saw a drum with Ringo Starr’s head on it. I said to them that might be nice. And then it didn’t get used at all,” John said.
“It was when I was 14 or 15 when the music teacher at Daventry Secondary Modern, Mr Jolly, told me to turn up with the drum and play in the band. I owe him a lot.
“You never stop learning, even now, when I’m teaching drumming students, I teach them things which I’ve only just learnt myself.”
Probably the biggest name he’s worked with is Steve Hackett, formerly of Genesis, another call which came out of the blue.
John said: “I phoned Charisma Records who published Genesis’s stuff and said if Phil Collins was indisposed, I could stand in.
“A little later and I had a friend who wound me up by answering the phone pretending to be famous musicians. When Steve Hackett phoned, I thought it was him and told him several times to go away. It was the only the fourth time he called back when I realised it was Steve Hackett.”
He now mostly teaches drumming and the result for one of his drummers, Jamie, was something that pleasantly surprised John.
“I was chatting to Jamie and asked him what he had gone on to do, and he said he’s worked alongside Michael Jackson, Jackson Browne and Tears for Fears. I was blown away.
“So much so that he invited me to a concert he was doing at the Royal Albert Hall and he insisted on waiting for me outside there. Most of the time, people wait inside.
“It was a wonderful experience and something I am very proud of. Even more so when Jamie wrote a testimonial for my website.”
And away from teaching, he’s even taken in some extras work. The first film he worked on was Notting Hill.
John said: “I was talking to someone who said we didn’t have a hard day’s job as musicians so I asked what he did and he explained he looked for extras for films.
“I said to him I’d love to do that, so the next thing I knew, I was being a journalist on Notting Hill when Julia Roberts is doing her speech at the end.”
He was also Gerard Butler’s hand double on the movie Hunter Killer as they needed someone to do some sleight of hand magic tricks.
John said: “I was a bit nervous going in to do it, as I hadn’t done magic in 20 years but we got on so very well.
“Gerard’s a real inspiration because, like me he’s not a trained actor, he is some-
one who stopped being a lawyer and decided to be an actor.”
Tickets for the evening cost £12.50 with funds going to the charity.
To book tickets email [email protected] or call 07719 374133