13th November 2019

John Cameron's composing and arranging covers an amazing array of music genres, from rock, soul, jazz and folk music, through electronic, world, orchestral and choral music, working in film, television, theatre of all kinds, and recording. His career in music started in earnest at Cambridge University where he was Vice-President of the Footlights and busy in many forms of music, most notably the local jazz scene. On coming down, he was soon writing arrangements for artists such as Donovan (within 6 months he had his first no.1 hit in the US with Donovan's Sunshine Superman that he arranged with Spike Heatley). John became Donovan's music director, touring with him, and arranging hit singles Jennifer Juniper, & Epistle to Dippy, & the Sunshine Superman & Mellow Yellow albums, and subsequently arranging Donovan's music for Ken Loach's Poor Cow.

John went on to work extensively in Television, as music director and arranger for three series of Once More With Felix (with folk-singer Julie Felix), The Bobbie Gentry Show and numerous shows in Stanley Dorfman's In Concert series, featuring artists such as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman.

Meanwhile in the late 60s John had two hits as a songwriter with If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind a no.11 hit in the UK charts for Cilla Black (and coincidentally a no.11 UK hit for Agnetha Faltskog some decades later!) and Sweet Inspiration, a Top Ten record for Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon.

John's entry into film composition happened when Ken Loach asked him to compose the score for Kes, which has become one of the best regarded British films of the 20th Century. He was soon composing the music for films as diverse as The Ruling Class (with Peter O'Toole), Nightwatch (with Elizabeth Taylor) and A Touch of Class for which he was nominated for an Academy Award (Oscar).

Meanwhile his arranging and songwriting career had taken a new turn. His band CCS, a jazz-funk outfit fronted by Alexis Korner, had four UK hits with Whole Lotta Love (which turned into the iconic theme music for Top of the Pops for decades), Walking, Tap Turns On The Water, & Brother. He also worked as arranger with Hot Chocolate on every single from Emma to Heaven Is In The Back Seat Of My Cadillac, including You Sexy Thing and Every One's A Winner. Similarly, John worked as arranger with Heatwave on three albums, including the singles Boogie Nights, Always & Forever, The Groove Line and Gangsters of the Groove.

Another total change of direction came at the end of the 70's when John was approached by Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schonberg to arrange and conduct a "concept" album based on Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Initially a French production in Paris directed by Robert Hossein, and then produced by Cameron Mackintosh and the RSC, directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, this became and has remained one of the most popular musicals of all time. Every version of the show for almost 30 years had the mark of John's orchestral score. John won a Drama Desk award and a National Broadway Theatre Award for this score.

Another of John's long-running successes was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. John wrote the orchestrations for the 1991 show which has now re-emerged as the Reality TV version. Other shows John has arranged/supervised include Spend, Spend, Spend and Honk, both award winning productions. Dramatic productions for which John has written the music include Simon Russel Beale's Hamlet, Michael Bogdanov's Faust, Beckett, starring Dougray Scott and numerous productions at the Shaulspiehaus in Hamburg.

John's next theatrical project was his collaboration with the Gipsy Kings on the score for Zorro the Musical, which opened in the West End in 2008 and for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2009.

In 2013 John was honoured to be commissioned by the Hubei Province Cultural Ministry, China, to write the musical Nils Wonderful Adventures. As well as the music, John wrote the original english lyrics which were translated into mandarin by the book writer Shuang Zou. It opened in Wuhan, China in November 2013 with John conducting opening night. This show has subsequently toured provincial Chinese cities to great acclaim and is being prepared for opening in Beijing and Shanghai in 2015. It's also being developed with Scottish Opera as a bi-lingual collaboration with the Wuhan Peoples Theatre. John, director David Freeman and designer Don Potra were the only non-chinese creatives in the entire cast and crew.

In the meantime, films and recordings have not been neglected. Mini-series ranging from the Emmy Award winning Jack the Ripper (starring Michael Caine), through Disney's Little House on the Prairie and The Path To 9-11 for which John himself was nominated for an Emmy, films from The Mirror Crack'd till To End All Wars, and extensive recordings with artists such as Jose Carreras and the Choir of New College Oxford have featured in John's musical life. He recently produced, arranged and and conducted an album of Heroic Songs with Swedish baritone Carry Persson in Vienna and Bratislava.

While working with the New College Oxford choir, John took a six month sabbatical to research and compose his cantata Missa Celtica which he recorded with the choir, the English Chamber Orchestra, and various Celtic soloists.

Recently there has been renewed interest in John's retro years with the release of the Kes soundtrack, a re-release of John's early jazz album Off Centre, and of the DVD and soundtrack of cult movie Psychomania, and soon of the soundtrack from The Protectors. He has recently returned to live playing with his trio JohnCameron3, reviving the jazz funk style first found on his recording Off Centre by the John Cameron Quartet. johncameron3.com

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