BY THORSTEN KAEDING

Jon English was a unique figure in the Australian entertainment landscape: rock star, music theatre performer and television actor of great distinction.

Seldom has Australia seen a performer with his breadth of talent and achievement.

Born in London, Jon and his family moved to Australia when he was 12 years old. Jon got his first big break playing Judas Iscariot in the Australian stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1972.

Marcia Hines and Jon English publicity photo for Midnight Records

Marcia Hines and Jon English

Courtesy Midnight Records. NFSA title: 513690

Through the 1970s and 80s Jon had a string of hits including ‘Hollywood Seven’, ‘Camilla’ and ‘Six Ribbons’, as well as being a regular on music television shows like Sounds Unlimited, Countdown and Nightmoves.

As a singer, he worked with artists such as Jesus Christ Superstar co-star Marcia Hines (pictured together on the left). Together, they released the EP Jokers and Queens in 1982.

Not content with being a rock star, Jon continued his acting career on both stage and screen.

On stage he made the role of the pirate king in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance his own, performing it over 1000 times.

Jon English in a still from TV mini-series Against the Wind

Jon English in Against the Wind (1978).

Courtesy Seven Network / Pegasus Productions

NFSA title: 492832

On television he had starring roles in All Together Now, playing an ageing rock star, and Against the Wind, a landmark Australian mini-series set in colonial times.

Directed by George Miller (The Man from Snowy River), it was a huge hit, known as ‘the originator of the Australian television mini-series’.

Jon was also the joint composer for the Against the Wind music, which received two gold records.

Jon English will be remembered as one of the most versatile and loved performers of his time in Australia.

He brought song and laughter to audiences of all ages and astonished with the diversity and sheer scale of his illustrious career.

The following interview took place on the second episode of Nightmoves, presented by Lee Simons, and aired on the Seven Network on 20 May 1977. At the time, Jon English was performing around the country as Bryan Ferry’s supporting act, and promoting his single ‘Minutes to Midnight’. Jon’s brother Jeremy English was the Nightmoves floor manager, and he briefly joins his famous sibling to joke about their family resemblance.

Jon English in Nightmoves, 20 May 1977.
Courtesy Mushroom Pictures. NFSA title: 744202