John Perry (musician)
Perry in 2014
|Birth name||John M. Perry|
4 June 1952 |
Bristol, England, United Kingdom
|Years active||1971 – date|
Gibson Les Paul Junior
The Only Ones came out of London during the first wave of punk (1976–77) and, rather like the New York bands The Heartbreakers and Television with whom they later toured, suffered from being too musical for lumpen-punk but too "new" for conservative record business sensibilities. Although never a huge commercial success, the band is cited as influential.
Perry was born in Bristol and began playing guitar at about age 12. He started his music career with local, late 1960s bands in Bristol, then at 20 joined a loose bunch of musicians centred on the Pink Fairies, Hawkwind and other UK Underground bands. After appearing at the 1971 Glastonbury Fayre (the first with the pyramid stage), he played in a series of British and European tours and annual festivals in Pilton, Oxford, Trentishoe et al.
Some bands Perry played with include The Ratbites from Hell (pre-Only Ones) and Decline and Fall (post-Only Ones). He has also worked with Johnny Thunders, Marianne Faithfull, Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, The Sisters of Mercy, Mick Green, Robert Palmer, Freddie Stevenson, Jayne County, Screaming Lord Sutch, Nick Kent & The Subterraneans, Michael Nyman and Evan Dando of The Lemonheads. He acted as musical director on the Johnny Thunders/Patti Palladin album Copycats.
In late 1975, Perry hooked up with Peter Perrett, recording demos in South London. This collaboration soon turned into the band The Only Ones, a highly promising new wave group influenced by David Bowie and Lou Reed. After a self-produced single, "Lovers of Today/Peter and the Pets," The Only Ones signed with CBS in January 1978. The band also received offers from Sire, Anchor and Island. According to some sources, Island owner Chris Blackwell made several impassioned pleas to the band, culminating in a helicopter dash to a Midlands gig where he made a final appeal for the band sign with his label.
The band's first major label single, "Another Girl, Another Planet," appeared on CBS to immediate, almost universal critical acclaim but crawled no higher than the lower reaches of the Top 100, achieving only #56 UK. Despite frequent re-releases over three decades in various formats, sizes, and colours of vinyl, the record never became a hit, even after frequent appearances in films and in a major European TV and cinema advertising campaign for Vodaphone. The single appears in several critical volumes such as Paul Williams' Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles but has remained a "turntable hit". Working with producer Colin Thurston, the band later achieved a top forty hit with Baby's Got a Gun (#37 UK).
Between 1976 and 1980, the band recorded three studio LPs for CBS Records (Epic Records in the US) and made sufficient appearances on BBC Radio and TV to release two albums: The John Peel Sessions and a double CD, Darkness & Light: The Complete BBC Recordings.
The Only Ones split in 1980 during an eventful US tour supporting The Who, which saw the arrests of several band members in separate events in California. In late February 2007, The Only Ones reformed, appearing at All Tomorrow's Parties and a sold-out show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. That summer they played huge outdoor festivals in London's Hyde Park, at Harewood House in Yorkshire, and Inveraray Castle in Scotland where they shared bills with Big Star, Primal Scream, Johnny Marr, The White Stripes and many others.
The band's tour schedule throughout 2008–10 took them to France, Spain, Holland, Norway, Sweden, and twice to Japan. They were billed to play Japan again in November 2014. Despite packed concerts and great reviews, sources close to the band confirmed that the new songs heard in concert were not scheduled for release. The band continued to perform in 2015.
Perry has written three books of musicology on The Who's singles, The Rolling Stones' double album Exile on Main St ; and, as part of the 33⅓ series, on Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland. Exile on Main St has been translated into Spanish, and in 2015 the Electric Ladyland book was scheduled for publication in Portuguese by the Rio de Janeiro publisher Editora Cobogo.
- Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland (33⅓) (31 March 2004)
- Classic Rock Albums: The Who: Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy (1998)
- The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street (Classic Rock Albums) (22 December 2000)
- Petridis, Alexis (4 April 2007), "'Junkies today are disgusting'", The Guardian, retrieved 21 August 2015
- Sounds, May 1978
- Vigilante, Jonesy, "only one - JOHN PERRY", Punk Globe, retrieved 21 August 2015
- "Lemonheads – Varshons", Uncut, 9 June 2009, retrieved 22 August 2015
- Thompson, Dave (2000), Alternative Rock, p. 536, retrieved 21 August 2015
- Williams 100, retrieved 22 August 2015
- Unterberger, Richie, the Only Ones, AllMusic, retrieved 21 August 2015
- The Only Ones, Bandsintown, retrieved 21 August 2015
- Gandolfi, Marco (30 August 2008), The Lemonheads, Music-news.com, retrieved 21 August 2015
- Zacharek, Stephanie (15 December 1998), "Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy: The Who", Salon
- John Perry discography at Discogs
- The Only Ones Official Website
- The Only Ones - "Another Girl, Another Planet" (live) from YouTube