|John Cooper Clarke
In Cardiff, March 1979
||25 January 1949
Salford, Lancashire, England
John Cooper Clarke (born 25 January 1949) is an English performance poet who first became famous during the punk rock era of the late 1970s when he became known as a "punk poet". He released several albums in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and continues to perform regularly.
His recorded output has mainly centred on musical backing from the Invisible Girls, which featured Martin Hannett, Steve Hopkins, Pete Shelley, Bill Nelson, and Paul Burgess.
Clarke was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1949. He lived in the Higher Broughton area of the city and became interested in poetry after being inspired by his English teacher, John Malone, whom he described as "a real outdoor guy, an Ernest Hemingway type, red blooded, literary bloke". Recollecting his childhood, Clarke said:
I used to think trees were dirty, because when I was a kid in Salford you'd climb them and come off filthy, it was like you'd been up a chimney... and even if you got a stretch of park you just had to scrape the grass and there were, like, cinders underneath... it was horrible...
His first job was a laboratory technician at Salford Tech. He began his performance career in Manchester folk clubs, where he began working with Rick Goldstraw and his band the Ferrets. His first releases were on Tosh Ryan and Martin Hannett's independent label Rabid, starting with the EP Innocents in October 1977. Rabid also released his debut LP "Où est la maison de fromage'?" (catalogue number NOZE 1), which was a collection of live recordings, demos and rehearsals. This was reissued by Revolver Records in 1989 (RRLP 10) also making it his last album to date. He toured with Bill Nelson's band Be-Bop Deluxe in 1978 and was signed by Epic Records, who issued the Martin Hannett produced studio album Disguise In Love in 1978.
In 1979 he had his only UK top 40 hit with "Gimmix! (Play Loud)". Clarke toured with Linton Kwesi Johnson, and has performed on the same bill as bands such as the Sex Pistols, the Fall, Joy Division, the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Elvis Costello, Rockpile and New Order (including at their May 1984 Music For Milers benefit concert at London's Royal festival Hall). His set is characterised by lively, rapid-fire renditions of his poems, usually performed a capella. Often referred to as "the bard of Salford", he usually refers to himself on stage as "Johnny Clarke, the name behind the hairstyle".
In 1979 he applied to join actors' union Equity, but as there was already a member named John Cooper Clarke, he joined under the name Lenny Siberia. His 1980 album "Snap, Crackle and Bop" gave him his highest album chart placing, reaching number 26.
Performing in Cardiff, 1979
Clarke appeared in a 1982 music documentary compilation Urgh! A Music war, in which he performed his poem "Health Fanatic". The film featured live performances of mainstream artists (Pere Uba, the Police, the Go-Go's, XTC and Devo) as well as more obscure bands (Invisible Girls, the Alley Vats, Athletico Spizz '80, Chelsea) using concert footage from around the world. He also starred in another 1982 film titled John Cooper Clarke - Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt directed by Nick May and produced for the Arts Council of Great Britain and Channel 4. Somewhere between a narrative film, a series of music videos and a documentary, the film features interviews and performances by Clarke and Linton Kwesi Johnson among others.
Clarke released a further album in 1982, "Zip Style Method", and Clarke performed his live act less frequently, spending much of the 1980s addicted to heroin, living in a "domestic partnership" with singer and fellow addict Nico. He described this period of his life: "It was a feral existence. I was on drugs. It was hand to mouth." In 1987 he performed live (on crutches for a broken ankle) at Albany Empire in London with Suns of Arqa, recorded two tracks ('Libera Me' and 'The Truth Lies Therein') for their album "Seven", and featured in the music video for the latter. In 1988 he made an appearance in two UK adverts for Sugar Puffs, taking second billing to the Honey Monster. He returned to live performance in the 1990s, appearing again with Suns of Arqa in 1992 at The Witchwood in Ashton-Under-Lyne. His vocals from both of his Suns of Arqa tracks have been used on numerous remixes by the band ever since.
John Cooper Clarke - Me and My Big Mouth
UK Epic SEPC 84979 stereo (1981).
Album produced by Martin Hannett.
The vinyl record attains a strong excellent grading, suggesting few plays.
Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.
Both record centre labels are clean and unmarked.
The album cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minimal signs of wear.
The album cover has a strong, undamaged spine, displaying very clear, printed script.
For full track listing see Own tab.