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
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
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
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