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Johnny Clarke, The Name Behind The Hairstyle
September 13, 2008 3:48 PM   Subscribe

Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) film from 1982 on The Bard of Salford, John Cooper Clarke. You might know him from here. NSFW.

Interview on Australian TV (1, 2)
Some of his classics: Chicken Town from Control, Chicken Town live, Beasley Street, I Married A Monster From Outer Space, I Don't Want To Be Nice on The Old Grey Whistle Test, Twat / Splat, Health Fanatic , Never See A Nipple In The Daily Express, Kung Fu International
... and he was possibly the oddest choice ever to sell breakfast cereal.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (11 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've long been a Johnny Clarke fan, but I've always been miffed by the fact that Chicken Town is a complete rip-off of Capt Hamish Blair's wartime poem about being stationed in Scapa Flow, In Bloody Orkney.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:24 PM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


A few years when I was doing my English GCSE we went on a visit to see an event for various poets in my GCSE English poetry anthology book. Quite a few semi-famous people were there, including the recently mentioned Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage, but I'll be honest when I can say they were all pretty damn dull and dry and I can't really remember much about them.

I do, however, remember John Cooper Clarke for several reasons - one is that he wasn't in the anthology at all so must have been invited largely for giggles, the other thing was that he was causing the arena full of 16 year olds to burst out laughing regularly despite no-one knew who the hell he was, the fact he seemed "cool" looking batshit insane with over-the-top hair, sunglasses and stupidly fast-paced delivery compared to other fairly dry and bland poets, he was hanging out outside talking to people afterwards (although we were all too quiet to approach him), and "part-time poet, full-time loser" reverberated with me a lot at the time and does today.

Still, despite it making me realise that poetry didn't have to be largely bland and very Radio 4. It didn't stop me doing Mathematics and Computer Science instead though. I still haven't seen him since - it's hard to tell when he's performing and I always seem to miss him when he's at music festivals.
posted by HaloMan at 4:34 PM on September 13, 2008


I remember him best for the Sugar Puffs adverts.
posted by the cuban at 4:44 PM on September 13, 2008


Genius, and a master of the language, too. Always annoyed that the histories of Manchester leave him out. I wonder whether Happy Mondays weren't a more user-friendly version of what Hannett was doing with Clarke on Snap Crackle & Bop. Not that Ryder has anything on Clarke on the lyrical front.

I've got to see him once, at the tiny basement club Bunjies (so it must be over ten years ago, because that's when Bunjies closed) after he was more stand-up than poet, and the classic Johnny Clarke poems were so well-practiced that they slid out of his mouth like oil on teflon, and he barely needed to move his lips.

Beasley Street on Whistle Test. Magnificent.
posted by Grangousier at 5:10 PM on September 13, 2008


Seen him a couple of times but also many years back. One career highlight for me was the weird Book of Ezekiel spoken word he did to backing by Suns of Arqua on one of their albums.
posted by Abiezer at 8:32 PM on September 13, 2008


Always annoyed that the histories of Manchester leave him out.

Funnily enough, I was just reading Mark E. Smith's memoir last week, and Smith has always gone on about how all the Manchester bands hated the fall. The one exception that he cites is John Cooper Clarke, who he credits with being hugely supportive in their early days -- allowing them to rehearse around at his house, paying for transport, etc. etc.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:16 PM on September 13, 2008


Never heard of him before but god he's good. Thanks FS.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:21 AM on September 14, 2008


The one exception that he cites is John Cooper Clarke, who he credits with being hugely supportive in their early days

I think he always used to open for The Fall at one point
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:11 AM on September 14, 2008


Studying in Liverpool, some time in the mid 80s: My friends used to consider it a sign of a good party if we did not get a John Cooper Clark wannabee holding forth in the kitchen at some point. The city had many, particularly amongst students. They were hard to dislodge.

This was before acid house.
posted by rongorongo at 1:27 PM on September 14, 2008



I remember him best for the Sugar Puffs adverts.

Oh Go on then
posted by rongorongo at 1:32 PM on September 14, 2008


My friends used to consider it a sign of a good party if we did not get a John Cooper Clark wannabee holding forth in the kitchen at some point. The city had many, particularly amongst students.

It could have been much worse, rongorongo. You could have been here twenty years earlier and suffered the plague of Adrian Henry wannabees -- or worse still and just as ubiquitous, Adrian himself!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:45 PM on September 14, 2008


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