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8 June 1955 |
London, England, United Kingdom
|Associated acts||Gang of Four|
He attended Sevenoaks School, where he was a member of the 'Art Room' that produced musicians Tom Greenhalgh and Mark White of The Mekons, along with Andy Gill of Gang of Four, Adam Curtis, the award-winning British documentarian and writer, and Paul Greengrass, the film director, screenwriter and former journalist famous for the Bourne identity franchise. The band's lyricist and co-songwriter, he sings in the group as well as playing melodica and percussion such as a microwave oven or wooden block (using a baseball bat or a stick), the latter notably on the song "He'd Send in the Army." Jon Pareles in The New York Times described King's lyrics as "bitterly analytical, infused with theories from Marx, Adorno, Baudrillard and Godard, and the band was determined to puncture pop romance with the consciousness that people are manipulated by power economics, media and marketing.Why not write about ideas? Mr. King said. " – Source Jon Pareles, New York Times, 24 January 2005. Jon King co-wrote and co-produced the groundbreaking Entertainment!, Gang of Four's debut album, regularly listed as among the top 100 albums of all time and described by Rolling Stone magazine as "the best debut album by a British band – punk or otherwise – since the original English release of The Clash in 1977.
Referring to the influence of Situationist ideas on Gang of Four's work, Jon King remarked, in a 1980 letter to Greil Marcus, that "where I think that Situationism was good was in the development of its revolutionary tactic: 'reinvesting' the cultural past. Situationism conspicuously used popular imagery in order to subvert it – to make the familiar strange, rather than rejecting the familiar out of hand. The tactic was good, worth ripping off, as in the Entertainment! cover, or the original 'Damaged Goods' sleeve." In an interview with NPR the author (NPR staff) state "King's lyrics have always meant different things to different people. Some see his words as a reaction to Margaret Thatcher, unemployment in early-'80s Britain or the unraveling of the unions. But King says he was more interested in "changing the meaning of things by the label." King says, in the same feature :"I remember when I was 15, I got incredibly excited when I found some grubby old book in a secondhand bookshop about the revolution in Paris in 1968," King says. "There was a picture, which I still cherish – it was a photograph for some kind of perfume and a very glamorous-looking woman on this poster, and someone had written on it in French: 'You know I know I'm exploiting you, but I'm not doing it on purpose.' I got terribly excited by the fact ... you can change the meaning of things by the label... I wondered how one could play around with these sorts of ideas in music"
King said of his lyrics, quoted by Michael Hoover (ibid): "If you, say, look at the published agenda of music which limits itself to a very small set of subjects and the way it approaches these subjects (which in its most extreme identity is a sort of Bryan Adams-style song), about missing or making up with your girl, driving the car, in some sort of all-white, midwestern high school, which is an incredibly common motif ... I don't know anything about that. That is something which is a very specific American topic, but it seems to be exhaustively gone around. I had a chance to describe it the other night, like a dog returning to its own vomit.
In other words, pop songs as false emotional advertising and ideology as everydayness are themselves grounds for inquiry", as King told Greil Marcus, because "unless you have an awareness of your views as political manifestations, you won't believe you can change them".
King has written music for TV & film, notably title music for "Pandora's Box" (BBC TV) and for BBC TV's "Scrutiny" and " Westminster Daily". He co-wrote and produced songs featured on the soundtracks of major movies such as The Karate Kid (1984), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), and Marie Antoinette (2006); the latter's title song "Natural's Not in It" ( from the album "Entertainment!" ) was also used for 2012's global Xbox ad campaign. He won in 2005 (as Gang of Four) Mojo Magazine's "Inspiration to Music" MOJO Awards and the Diesel U Music "Outstanding Contribution / Lifetime Achievement" award.. In 2011 he performed with Gang of Four on The David Letterman Show and Jools Holland. Post Gang of Four, King has had a career in live event production, in new media consulting, gobal broadcast TV news programming as CEO of World Television PLC, and managing director of the advertising agency Story Worldwide.
- Dougan, John. Gang of Four Biography at AllMusic. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- David Fricke, Rolling Stone, 7 August 1980.
- 1980 letter by King to Greil Marcus quoted in "Pop Music and the Limits of Cultural Critique: Gang of Four Shrinkwraps Entertainment." Author/s: Michael Hoover fall 1998.
- "Gang of Four: New 'Content,' Same Classic Sound". NPR. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- "Gang of Four 'Never Pay for the Farm' on Letterman 2011-02-08" on YouTube
- "Gang of Four – I Love A Man in Uniform (Live on Jools Holland)" on YouTube
- "Jon King". Story Worldwide. 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2013.