Jon English tribute: Waking to learn another hero lost

Photo supplied
Photo supplied

I WOKE to the news another childhood music hero has been lost.

A Facebook friend announced incredulously that "ol' black eyes" Jon English had died - from complications following surgery.

At only 66, his death is a huge blow to the Australian music and theatre industry as a hard-working, still-touring, ever-creative artist.

He was the first celebrity I ever interviewed.

Well, really, I was there on the pretence of being a cadet photographer as my South Burnett Times colleague interviewed him before a concert in Kingaroy Town Hall about 1983.

I couldn't let my idol leave town without a private audience back-stage. He was one of the few "rock stars" our entire family enjoyed.

The songs of Jon English - hits such as Turn The Page, Hollywood 7 and Words Are Not Enough - never received the "turn that rubbish down" treatment.

There seemed nothing he couldn't do on stage, screen and album chart.

His delicate Six Ribbons from his 1978 Against The Wind historical drama TV series still brings tears to my eyes.

His bawdiness alongside Simon Gallaher and Marina Prior in Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Pernzance and HMS Pinafore made me blush.

He thrilled the audience at the Countdown Spectacular at Brisbane Entertainment Centre when he proved he could still do a damn fine cartwheel on stage.

He even fulfilled a long-held ambition to write his own show - the ARIA award-winning Paris, based on the Trojan wars.

His long black hair, lean physique, preference for wearing black and dark-circled eyes may have screamed "villain" but he always came across as the softly spoken, all-round good guy.

And I'll always be grateful that Mr English was so generous with his time on our only encounter.

Something like that stays with a young fan a lifetime.

Topics:  arts editors picks jon english memories music theatre tribute

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