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John Helliwell

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John Helliwell
Helliwell in 2019
Helliwell in 2019
Background information
Born (1945-02-15) 15 February 1945 (age 79)
Todmorden, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
GenresRock, pop, jazz, blues
  • Saxophone
  • clarinet
  • vocals
  • keyboards

John Anthony Helliwell (born 15 February 1945) is an English musician, best known as the saxophonist, secondary keyboardist, and backing vocalist for the rock band Supertramp.[1] He also served as an MC during the band's concerts, talking and making jokes to the audience between songs.

Helliwell played with The Alan Bown Set, replacing Dave Green when he joined in January 1966,[2] before joining Supertramp in 1973 along with bassist Dougie Thomson, who convinced Helliwell to make the move. In 2004, Helliwell formed the band Crème Anglaise with Mark Hart, who had joined Supertramp in 1985. This group recorded their eponymous debut album in 2005.

In 1987 Helliwell played on Pink Floyd's album A Momentary Lapse of Reason; his name was misspelled as "Halliwell".[3] This was after Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour had played on Supertramp's album Brother Where You Bound. Helliwell also played on French singer Jean-Jacques Goldman's 1985 album Positif, and clarinet on Sara Hickman's 1990 album Shortstop.

During a professional lull in the 1990s, Helliwell began studying for a music degree at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, but he discontinued his studies to join Supertramp on tour when Some Things Never Change was released. In 2004 he contributed saxophone work on the Simon Apple album River to the Sea.[4]

Helliwell contributed clarinet to The Pineapple Thief's song "Fend For Yourself" from their Your Wilderness album which was released in 2016.[5]

Helliwell fronts the Super Big Tramp Band, which has a jazz big band line-up of trumpets, trombones, saxophones and rhythm section. It plays versions of Supertramp tunes, arranged by members of the band, with no vocals, but with Helliwell as the chief soloist. The band first played in Manchester in June 2013.[6] In 2019 the band played at the Manchester Jazz Festival[7] in May and was scheduled to play in Hull and Hamburg later in the year.[8]

In October 2020, Helliwell released Ever Open Door, a CD album of ballads with Helliwell on saxophone and clarinet, with a string quartet and Hammond organ.


  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Andrew Leahe. "Supertramp". All Music Guide. Archived from the original on 4 October 2009.
  2. ^ Jeff Bannister (2007). "The Alan Bown Set". Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  3. ^ A Momentary Lapse of Reason
  4. ^ "johnhelliwell.com". johnhelliwell.com. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  5. ^ Ainscoe, Mike (17 July 2016). "THE PINEAPPLE THIEF - YOUR WILDERNESS – album review". louderthanwar.com. Louder Than War. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  6. ^ "RNCM Big Band with Supertramp's John Helliwell - Rob Buckland - Saxophonist". robbuckland.com. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Big Band Super Tramp featuring John Helliwell". Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  8. ^ "johnhelliwell.com". johnhelliwell.com. Retrieved 25 May 2019.

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