John had to wait until 1977 and the rise of punk before his dream of fame and fortune would finally become a reality. Having caught the eye of the producers of the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test, his performance on that show would grab the attention of the watching audience. John, ever the showman, decided to jump on to the amplifier of his colleague during a performance of Bob Lind’s Cheryl’s Going Home. (Un)fortunately for him, he misjudged his leap and sent Wild Willy Barrett’s amplifier tumbling as he crashed down straddling the box under the amp. The full force of the impact was absorbed by the most tender part of his body, but in doing this one simple act of recklessness and his wanton disregard for his own safety, he was the talk of everyone who watched that evening’s programme.
Despite numerous attempts to get back into the charts, John would have to wait 25 years for his next taste of chart success. In the intervening years, he would become an actor; write an autobiography (Cor Baby That’s Really Me: Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure); perform sold out shows at London’s Astoria and Royal Albert Hall; make regular appearances at both Glastonbury and Edinburgh Festivals; and write the nation’s seventh favourite lyric of all-time (beating Bob Dylan and Paul Simon in the process).
In 2002, he achieved what he desired the most – a second hit. A concerted publicity campaign saw him reach number 9 with the disco pastiche Bunsen Burner and a second appearance on Top of the Pops. Despite this success, a planned world tour collapsed, but he continued to gig extensively around the UK either with his band, as a duo with Wild Willy Barrett or solo. A follow-up autobiography was penned in 2010 and titled: I Did It Otway: Regrets I’ve Had a Few.
To celebrate his 60th birthday in 2012, John produced his debut movie titled Otway the Movie: The Story of Rock n Roll’s Greatest Failure. It was subsequently voted the 2nd best film of the year in a poll of its readers conducted by The Guardian newspaper. He took his band to the Caribbean Island of Montserrat to record a new album. The album would be the first to be recorded on the island by an international artist since The Rolling Stones recorded Steel Wheels in 1989. Produced by Grammy-award winner Chris Birkett and recorded at Olveston House – the former home of Sir George Martin, it was released to critical acclaim in May 2017.
Date of event:6th November 2021