Jon English is one of Australia’s most versatile performers. During his career he has established himself as one of the country’s top entertainers.
He has reached the pinnacle in the world of Australian show business as a singer, actor, songwriter and producer. He has released more than 20 albums, appeared in more than 100 television shows and countless stage and musical shows.
Considered an iconic member of the Australian show business industry, he is back on the road again travelling with the sell out show: The Rock Show, which will be at the Manning Entertainment Centre on July 17th and 18th. Meet Jon English:
> When did your career as an entertainer begin?
I have always had a passion for music. When I left school in 1966 I was in two bands, Zenith and Sebastian Hardy, with the latter becoming Johnny O’Keefe’s backing band in 1968.
> You played Judas in the successful rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar in the early 1970s. Was that a lucky break, or just the result of hard work?
Both! The stage show had a long run, which gave me a taste for expanding my career and gave me the chance to release some albums; plus, I was offered roles in many television series. Against the Wind was incredibly popular; I also penned some of the music.
> Your music combined with your acting roles on TV saw you achieve superstar status. How did you cope with that?
Superstar, no! You are only as good as your last performance – to survive you have to work hard. You always test your boundaries, and I love challenges. When the television happened, the music was my relaxation after the television’s long days of filming – they can be tough work.
> You have since gone on to win many awards, including ‘Best New Talent Logie’, Aria awards for your singles, Words are not Enough and Turn The Page and voted best male vocal singer three out of four years. How did you handle all this success?
You can get on the merry-go-round. I did for a while, but took a break when my body said, “No more”, so I had 12 months off. You have to! I was lucky. I wanted to start new projects I had in mind, and I focused on those.
> You wrote the theme song Six Ribbons for the mini-series which was a number one hit in six countries. How did it make you feel?
The success of Ribbons was incredible. It was my first million-selling song and with it now on DVD, it has been selling well again. Yes … I am proud.
> Your career as an entertainer has seen you progress to the stage and musicals, where you’ve enjoyed great success. How did that come about?
I had been travelling overseas; I toured with Bruce Springsteen and Chicago and had been working on and off on a Rock Opera, ‘Paris’, which I wrote based on the Trojan wars. After this it was the direction I took, and I’ve been on the stage regularly since with Pirate King, Pirates of Penzance, Mikado, Rasputin and HMAS Pinafore … all going well.
I even played in a Shakespeare play. I have always combined the stage and music, but again, it is luck.
> You hit the road again in 2006 when the Countdown spectacular toured Australia. Did this give you inspiration with your music?
That was a great time to renew friendships and relive some of the old times: it was like going to a high-school reunion. It is great being back singing.
> You’ve enjoyed a long and succesful career on stage and screen. To what do you attribute this?
I’ve been lucky … there have not been too many failures. Some is planned, but luck plays a big part. I guess I am doing what I enjoy most.
> Who do you admire among your peers in the entertainment industry in Australia?
Simple! We have some brilliant talent in Australia, but John Farnham is the complete performer: he is legendary.
> You now live on the North Coast of New South Wales. Why did you move?
It is peaceful and quiet and allows me to enjoy life now. Living in cities takes its toll; you can over indulge in many things. Basically, I hit the wall.
> You spend a lot of your time today working to preserve Australia’s endangered species. Tell us about that …
I heavily support the Tasmanian Devil project. What is happening down there is awful, with the disease threatening to wipe out the population in 10-20 years.
I am working with a few organisations to help breed a captive disease free population. I want to do some benefit concerts for the cause.
> You are part of ‘The Rock Show’ to be held at the Manning Entertainment Centre this month, which is receiving rave reviews. What makes the show so special?
The show is a group of multi-talented musicians and entertainers and is based on a tribute show to the music of the 1960s and 1970s.
The cast is brilliant; we have so much talent in this country. The show has everything: songs from Queen, Elton John, Billy Thorpe, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, plus many others. All the great songs will be performed.
The reviews have been incredible; they have been some of the best any show I have been in has received. Remember, it is the overall cast that makes the show – I am only part of it.
> Thank you Jon.