Australia mourns Jon English, dead at 66
AUSTRALIAN rock icon Jon English has died at 66.
The legendary musician and tireless touring act is understood to have died after suffering complications from surgery.
The singer-songwriter's star rose in the 1970s after playing Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.
English died surrounded by his wife and children.
The singer was planning to travel to Sweden this month to begin recording a new album, with plans to start a new rock show in April or May.
In a statement on their Facebook page, Ambition Music Group said Mr English was surrounded by family at the time of his death.
"It is with great sadness that we commemorate the passing of Jon English," the statement said.
"At the time of his passing, he was surrounded by his four children, Jessamin, Josephine, Jonnie and Julian, his wife Carmen, his sister Janet, his brother Jeremy, his nephews Jay and Jasper Collie, his grandson Jzawo and other close family members."
See our photo tribute to Jon below, best viewed in 'full screen'.
Mr English was born in London in 1949, moving to Australia with his parents and siblings at age 12.
He has been a Boambee resident for around a decade and headlined last year's Coffs Coast Carols event.
Mr English was a talented performer who worked in television, music and stage.
On Monday, Jon English announced via his Facebook page that he would have to pull out of playing a Newcastle event "on the advice of his doctors".
"He apologises to all of his fans who were looking forward to the day, but assures everyone he will be back to full health and rocking out on stage with you all again very soon (he is in fact itching to do so!)
"Thank you again to everyone who has taken the time to extend their well wishes for Jon's recovery.
"He sincerely appreciates your posts."
FULL STATEMENT FROM JON ENGLISH'S MUSIC LABEL
It is with great sadness that we commemorate the passing of Jon English.
Jon died peacefully last night, aged 66. The cause of death was post-operative complications.
At the time of his passing he was surrounded by his four children, Jessamin, Josephine, Jonnie and Julian, his wife Carmen, his sister Janet, his brother Jeremy, his nephews Jay and Jasper Collie, his grandson Jzawo and other close family members.
Born in Hamstead, London on 26 March 1949, Jon came to Australia with his parents, Syd and Sheila, and three siblings, Janet, Jeremy and Jill, at the age of 12.
Jon was one of the few Australian performers to combine a career in music, television and stage.
In the early 70's Jon auditioned for Harry M Miller's first production of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was given the prestigious and demanding lead role of Judas at the age of just 22. The show's phenomenal success kept him busy for the next five years, touring all over Australia and New Zealand.
During the time Jon was touring with Superstar, he also recorded four albums. He had hits with songs such as Handbags and Gladrags, Turn the Page (his first number one) and Hollywood Seven.
At the same time he appeared in guest roles on popular television drama shows including No 96, Matlock Police, and the Homicide tele-movie, Stopover.
1977 culminated with Jon's fifth album and third number one hit single Words Are Not Enough, and a concert tour with the band, Thin Lizzy.
He then took a short break from the rock music scene in 1978 when he appeared in the lead role of the popular television mini-series, Against the Wind. Jon won a Best New Talent Logie for his performance as convict, Jonathan Garrett, in the series.
Jon wrote the score for Against the Wind. He also co-wrote the theme song, Six Ribbons, which became a number one hit in more than six countries. As a result of Against the Wind, Jon became one of the rare performers to win an acting Logie and a TV Week/Countdown award (for best male vocalist) in the same year.
English History, Jon's next and seventh album was also released in 1978. This 'best of' album made history at the time by becoming the largest selling double album in Australia. Albums number eight, nine, and ten followed in 1980, 1981 and 1982 - Calm Before the Storm, Inroads, and Jokers and Queens (with Marcia Hines).
Jon's first collaboration with producer David Mackay began in 1983, with his twelfth album Some People.
This collaboration saw the beginnings of a partnership that would eventually give birth to the rock opera, Paris.
1984 saw Jon's first appearance as the Pirate King alongside Marina Prior, Simon Gallaher, and June Bronhill in the Victorian State Opera's production of The Pirates of Penzance.
As Pirate King he won the Melbourne Critic's Green Room Award for Most Outstanding Actor on two occasions during the season.
Jon took on the lead role of Bobby Rivers in 1991 in the television sitcom All Together Now, co-starring Rebecca Gibney.
The show, about a faded seventies rock star who discovers parenthood late in life, lasted for three years and over a hundred episodes.
Jon again wrote the theme song and was musical director for the series. All Together Now was sold in over thirty countries, including Germany where it was called Rock and Roll Daddy.
Jon worked alongside Simon Gallaher again in 1994 when Simon produced an updated version of the Pirates of Penzance.
With Jon again as the Pirate King, the show played to sell-out crowds around Australia and New Zealand and grossed over 13 million dollars at the box office.
The ABC produced video of Pirates has now sold triple platinum, and the live album won the ARIA award for best cast album. This ARIA bought Jon's personal tally to four.
The success of Pirates of Penzance was followed up with another two Gilbert and Sullivan classics - The Mikado and HMS Pinafore.
With Jon again cast in the lead roles, both shows opened to critical and public acclaim, touring extensively throughout New Zealand and Australia, until Pinafore finally closed the hugely successful 'trilogy' in October 1997.
In early 2009 Jon also teamed up with a troupe of multi talented, multi instrumentalist young rockers to produce a spectacular 10 piece tribute to the 60's and 70's rock generation called The Rock Show.
At the time of his passing, he was still performing regularly in a variety of music shows.
A public service celebrating Jon's life will be held with details to be released shortly.
What you're saying on Facebook:
Vivienne Gibson: "Another great rock legend taken away too sad rip we are loosing a lot of great legends with the passing of david bowie the loss of the great man they called the 5th beatle now jon english rip.everyone."
Christine Crerar: "So many great memories of your music and shows. Have grown up with Jon English music - Legend Jon!!! So sad today."
Shona Harrower: "Sad to hear this was just listening to him talk about his plans for his next play the other day . Life is short , may all family and friends be comforted at this time."
Charles Hodgson: "Yes sad news. I saw him at the beginning in Jesus Christ Superstar in Sydney."
Carol Clark: "I am so sad, my late husband & I saw him in Jesus Christ Super star in Sydney in the 70s. R.I.P Jon."
Julie Layfield-Campbell: "Thats is sad R.I.P great aussie icon."
Maria Mifsud: "May he rest in peace thats so sad."
Susan Hornery: "R.I.P Jon English. You were part of my teenage years."
Shaz Smitham: "RIP Jon English I was reared up on you my children were reared up on you and now it's my grandchildrens turn condolences to your loved ones shattered fan."
Greg Lange: "What a terrible year for music. This is definitely not a case of bad things happen in 3's, its a lot more."