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21 May 1959 |
Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Medium||Stand-up, radio, television|
Fellows was a drama student at Manchester Polytechnic when he first came to prominence in August 1978 as the eponymous singer of the novelty record "Jilted John", a first-person narrative of an embittered teenager whose girlfriend Julie had left him for another man named Gordon, "just 'cause he's better lookin' than me/just 'cause he's cool and trendy".
Fellows later said: "I'd written a couple of songs and I wanted to record them. So I went into a local record shop and asked if they knew any indie or punk labels. They said there were two, Stiff in London and Rabid just down the road. So I phoned Rabid up, and they told me to send in a demo. We did the demos with the late Colin Goddard - of Walter & the Softies - on guitar, and the drummer and bass player of the Smirks. I took it along to Rabid, who loved it... so we rerecorded it a few days later, at Pennine Studios, with John Scott playing guitar & bass and Martin Zero (aka Martin Hannett) producing...".
"Jilted John" was first played on national radio by BBC Radio One's John Peel who commented that if the single was promoted by a major record label he could see it becoming a huge hit. This proved to be the case when it was picked up by EMI International. The song was introduced by David Jensen on Top of the Pops as "one of the most bizarre singles of the decade", and reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart.
Two follow-up singles were released the same year under the guise of "Gordon the Moron". A pseudo concept-album also produced by Hannett followed, entitled True Love Stories, charting John's love-life – and two further singles, neither of which were hits. No other recordings followed these, making Jilted John a one-hit wonder. However, a cash-in single by Julie and Gordon sold moderately well, as did lapel badges bearing the legends "Gordon is a moron" and "Gordon is not a moron". The phrase has also been used politically, referring to one-time Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Fellows revived the Jilted John character at the 2008 Big Chill festival, along with Bernard Kelly, premiering a new song about Keira Knightley's ultra-thin figure. In December 2014 Jilted John won the 'One Hit Wonder World Cup' feature on the BBC Radio 6 Music Steve Lamacq show. In late 2015 it was announced that Fellows would once again revive Jilted John for Rebellion Festival 2016 at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool.
- "Going Steady/Jilted John" (July 1978) Rabid TOSH 105, reissued (August 1978) with A and B sides flipped EMI International (EMI 567) (UK No. 4)
- True Love Stories (1978) EMI International
- The Crap Stops Here: "Jilted John/Mrs. Pickering" (1980) Rabid LAST1
In 1986 Fellows created John Shuttleworth, an aspiring singer-songwriter from Sheffield, with a quiet manner and slightly nerdish tendencies. His musical talents are usually expressed through his Yamaha PSS portable keyboard, and his songs include such titles as "Pigeons in Flight" – a song which Shuttleworth attempted to have selected for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Two further Fellows creations followed, firstly Brian Appleton, a rock musicologist and media studies lecturer from a college of further education in the Newcastle-under-Lyme area although originally he hails from Selly Oak in Birmingham. His girlfriend Wendy is an aromatherapist, but unfortunately upon qualifying she became allergic to the essential oils she uses. He is convinced that he has been instrumental in helping many rock acts to achieve megastardom and yet received no credit for his efforts, such as being the cause for the gap in "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)" by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, inadvertently launching the vocal career of Phil Collins at a failed audition for the lead singer of Genesis after the departure of Peter Gabriel and giving Howard Jones the idea for using a mime artist in the hit "New Song" while working opposite him at a Clingfilm factory in High Wycombe. Brian also claimed to have a significant bearing on the career of the Thompson Twins (for example he inspired the hit 'Love on Your Side' while directing Alannah Currie towards her hat which he accidentally knocked off her head) and Morrissey, who Brian claims was inspired to form The Smiths after hearing Brian's own composition "My Turn to be Poorly".
His newest character is Dave Tordoff, a builder from Goole specialising in 'laser screed' concrete flooring. He has ambitions to become a popular after dinner speaker, having seen how easy it was for Kevin Keegan. The topic he most enjoys discussing is his accumulated wealth, followed by life on his ranch-style property with wife Mandy and daughter Courtney. Hobbies earmarked for 2007 included falconry.
Graham Fellows released one more album in 1985 under his own name titled Love at the Haçienda. It was well received but was not a commercial success. It does, however, have a cult following in Japan.
Prior to creating Shuttleworth, Fellows appeared in Coronation Street as Les Charlton, a young biker chasing the affections of married Gail Platt (then Tilsley). During his fame as Jilted John, Fellows had first appeared on Coronation Street in a very brief cameo role in which he meets Gail, single at the time, on the street in Manchester. In 2007 he appeared in an episode of ITV's Heartbeat.
In July 2009 he read Radio 4's Book of the Week, You're Coming With Me Lad by Mike Pannett, a Metropolitan Police officer's semi-autobiographical account of his experiences in the North Yorkshire town of Malton.
A one-off UK 7" single was released in 1980 under the band name Going Red – "Some Boys"/"Tune Kevin's Strings" – with a picture sleeve depicting Graham in the shower, fully clothed. The band consisted of Graham Fellows (vocals/guitar, as "Mervin Cloud"), Russell Giant (percussion) and Francis Charlton (bass guitar). Chris Sievey was also involved, possibly pseudonymously as one of the aforementioned names. The A-side was an uptempo new wave-style rocker, whilst the humorous B-side features fake crowd noises and predictable heavy metal riffing.
Selected TV, film and radio
- The Shuttleworths (five series 1993–2010) – BBC Radio 4
- Shuttleworth's Showtime (1994) – BBC Radio 1
- 500 Bus Stops (TV series)
- Europigeon (TV mockumentary about the Eurovision Song Contest)
- John Shuttleworth's "Open Mind" (2006) BBC Radio 4
- It's Nice Up North (2006)
- Southern Softies (2009)
- Hattie – as Eric Sykes (2010)
- Ideal - series 6 episode 7 "The Ear" as Doctor Persil (2011)
- "Graham Fellows tells how a bus shelter complete with sofa and TV fuelled the comedian's love of Scottish life", The Scotsman, 21 November 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2015
- Chalmers, Robert (26 October 2008). "Comedy – Graham Fellows: My icy, windswept island paradise". London: The Independent. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
- Roger Dopson, Liner notes of CD release of True Love Stories. Retrieved 4 June 2015
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 283. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Coleman, Vernon (August 2007). Gordon is a Moron: The Definitive and Objective Analysis of Gordon Brown's Decade as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Blue Books. ISBN 978-1-899726-08-0.
- Twitter, "Official Tweet by BBCLamacqshow", 19 December 2014.
- Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 0-86241-913-1.
- "John Shuttleworth sings Pigeons in Flight, Wayne's Secret World of the Organ - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "14 Things You Genuinely Didn’t Know About The Eurovision Song Contest". www.bubblegun.com. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "Europigeon (TV Movie 1998)". IMDb. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "Comedy of the week: Brian Appleton, various venues", The Independent, 20 September 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- "The Official Brian Appleton Homesite". www.shuttleworths.co.uk. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "DaveTordoff.com". www.shuttleworths.co.uk. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "Time Gentlemen Please (2000–2002)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
- "'I've been jilted by John,' says former lover". Mail Online. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "SueTerryVoices : Graham Fellows male voiceover artist". sueterryvoices.com. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "With Great Pleasure". Bbc.co.uk. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- "You're Coming With Me Lad, Book of the Week - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- Razz Records – CLEAN1, re-issue MCA Records – MCA673
- "BBC Radio 4 - Midweek, Graham Fellows, Matthew Oates, William McLellan, Kate Waters". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 June 2015.