Jon English's career started off with him singing and playing guitar in a number of small bands during the late sixties and early seventies. Armed with this wealth of experience, he auditioned for Harry M Miller's first production of Jesus Christ Superstar, "Just to see what doing an audition would be like!" He obviously did something right, as he was given the lead role as Judas. The show would run for five years and take him all over Australia and New Zealand. During this time he recorded four albums, and had such hits as 'Handbags and Gladrags', 'Turn the Page' (His first number one),and 'Hollywood Seven'. He appeared in several guest roles on Television during this time in shows as varied as; 'No. 96', 'Matlock Police', and the Homicide tele-movie 'Stopover', for which he was nominated for a Penguin award as best actor. Jon also produced his old band Sebastian HardieĖs first album, 'Four Moments', which went on to be one of Australia's most successful albums of its genre. All through the Seventies he remained in the public eye as both an actor and musician, and culminated in having his third No.1 'Words Are Not Enough'. He toured with Brian Ferry and Thin Lizzy, as well as headlining his own shows. He was "In full on rock-star mode". He won an ARIA award for Best Male Vocal Performance for 'Turn the Page', and was voted RAM magazine's Best Male Singer on three separate occasions.
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He broke the 'Rock-Star' mode for a while when he appeared as Jonathan Garrett in the Channel Seven mini-series "Against the Wind". The series has been touted as the most successful Australian mini-series ever, and culminated with ratings of 49's for the last episode. A rare achievement for then, an unheard of feat for now. Jon and old pal Mario Millo also wrote all the incidental music for the series, while Jon wrote the theme song "Six Ribbons" which went on to become a No.1 hit in more than six countries. The album for the series sold more than a million copies world wide. Jon became one of the few, if any, performers to win a Logie for Best Actor and a TV Week/ Countdown award for Best Male Vocalist in the one year. His best-of album, "English History" became history by being the largest selling double album in Australia at the time..
The Eighties saw Jon's career broaden overseas, where he headlined with his band 'The Foster Brothers' in Europe as well as at home. In Norway he won the award for Best Concert by a visiting artist over such acts as Bruce Springsteen. He toured with the legendary American band Chicago and was invited to LA to perform with Tower of Power. His first collaboration with his friend/ Producer, David Mackay was in 1982 on his album 'Some People', which birthed the hit ,'Some people have all the fun!' An idea was first formed, and the seeds were planted that would eventually grow into the Opera Paris. Jon stopped touring long enough to appear as the Pirate King in the Victorian State Opera's production of The Pirates of Penzance, with Simon Gallaher, Marina Prior, and June Bronhill. Jon won the Melbourne Critic's Green Room Award on two occasions during this run. He also shared an AFI award with Renee Geyer for singing the theme for the movie 'Street Hero'. He toured the pubs and clubs constantly and won the Mo Award for Entertainer of the Year on three separate occasions. In the later Eighties he went back to the theatre stage, playing the mad monk Rasputin in the show of the same name. A production that although surrounded by controversy at the time, served to fire Jon's ambition to write his own show Paris about the Trojan wars. He left Rasputin after three months and traveled to England to meet up again with old friend David Mackay to, "Start getting serious and finish writing the damned thing!" The next three years became an obsession, where the two would be in constant contact either by traveling to the other side of the world, or by Apple Computer link. Jon stopped long enough to play Cameron Daddo's dad in the Sydney production of Big River with Drew Forsythe, before heading off to finally start recording the finished product. The final product, Paris has become the largest selling box-set CD in Australia, and certainly the largest selling original Australian musical. It won an ARIA award for best cast album and features such artists as; The London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Humphries, Doc Neeson, John Waters, Demis Roussos, Francis Rossi, Phillip Quast, Terry Donovan, John Parr, and Harry Nillson. Sadly, it was Harry's last recorded work as he died a year later. JonĖs plans for a rest after finishing recording were short-lived. He took on the role of Bobby Rivers in the Channel Nine sitcom "All Together Now". The show, (about a faded Seventies rock star who discovers parenthood rather late in life) lasted for over a hundred episodes, which in the current Television climate is no mean feat. Jon also wrote the theme song, and was musical director for the series. So far "All Together Now" has been sold to over thirty countries, so his music is still being heard over the world. It is also currently in reruns in Australia.
Jon's collaboration with Simon Gallaher reappeared in 1994 when Simon took a huge risk, (to much tut-tutting of the Theatrical establishment) and produced an updated production of The Pirates of Penzance. The show played to sellout crowds around Australia and grossed over 13 million dollars at the box office. The ABC made a simulcast video of the show which has been repeated twice. The video sales are in the double-platinum area, and the Live Album won that year's ARIA award for best cast album. (Jon's fourth). Due to the success of 'Pirates' plans were put into motion to follow -up with another G&S classic, The Mikado. The show opened to critical and (much more importantly) public acclaim and has emulated the feats of 'Pirates'. So much so that he agreed to stay on to complete the trilogy with HMS Pinafore which opened in Melbourne Australia on January 2nd 1997.
Another successful tour of Australia and New Zealand followed and after a year of doing his own thing, he returned to collaborate again with Gallaher in 1999 with the Stephen Sondheim classic musical A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. Jon's new show 'Buskers and Angels' is yet another collaboration with David Mackay. He hopes to start recording the album; "As soon as I get time to scratch myself!" Recently a lot of interest is being shown in mounting an arena-style production of his opera Paris, which would turn another page in Jon's career. So he has chanced his arm at many things, and only wishes to be given a fair go at new ventures. Through it all he has survived and remains (albeit grudgingly) a household name in Australian entertainment. He says he's got "One more solo album in him - probably next year", and is disappointed when people get himself and Bobby Rivers confused. In fact he says they are complete opposites, a fact born out if you have read all the above. It remains that he is one of the most successful recording artists Australia has ever produced with 15 gold and 4 platinum albums to his credit, one of the most prolific song writers, as well as being one of the most popular and bankable stage performers. So as Jon approaches his third decade in show-biz, he hopes to slow down and, "Slip comfortably into middle-age". He hopes....But in the words of The Busker, "If wishes were fishes, then all pigs would fly!"
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