John Prior (musician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
John Prior
John Prior musician.jpg
Photograph by Wendy McDougall
Background information
Birth name John David Prior
Born (1960-07-22) 22 July 1960 (age 56)
Genres Rock, progressive rock, fusion, funk, soul, reggae, blues, orchestral, world, electronica
Occupation(s) musician, composer, producer, graphic artist, promoter
Instruments drums, piano, synthesizer, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, ocarina, computer
Years active 1968–present
Labels Giant Records, CBS Records, Bruton Music, Zomba Music, Sony Music, EMI Records, MGM Distribution, Mammal Music, Unreal Music.

John David Prior is an Australian musician, composer and producer recognized for his work with Matt Finish, Adrian Belew (King Crimson), Mick Taylor (The Rolling Stones), Roy Buchanan, Champion Jack Dupree, New Theatre, Coca-Cola, The Great Outdoors, Iota, Wicked Beat Sound System, Kevin Borich and Dale Barlow.[1][2][3][4][5][6][6]

Sydney Morning Herald reviewer John Shand wrote: "Prior was a nexus of energy, fun and accuracy" performing with Adrian Belew.[3]

John is the owner and director of Mammal Music Pty Ltd audio/video production company and Unity Gain Studios, where he has composed and produced albums for many independent artists including the ARIA Award winning Tibetan Prayer (Best World/Traditional/Folk Album 1995[7][8]), ARIA Award nominated The Hipbone Connection (Best Independent Album 2000[9] and No. 1 on the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) charts) and ARIA Award nominated The Story of Abbey (Best Show/Cast Album 2002).

He has also produced a number of works for film, television, theatre and advertising, gaining an Australian Guild of Screen Composers Nomination for orchestral composition and production.[10]

Musical history[edit]

The 1970s[edit]

Prior started playing guitar aged 8, drums at 11, vibraphone at 17 and piano at 24. During his teens, he performed in the bands Mandrake, then Legend with brother Rob Prior (guitar/vocals) and neighbor Paul Williams (bass guitar) at The Kirribilli Hotel, the Mosman Spastic Centre and Sydney Boys High School. With the addition of keyboards player Chris Short and the name change to Conic Section, they composed original jazz-rock fusion, performed at the Limerick Castle Hotel and won a band competition at Flemington Sydney. The band TAPP, comprising John and Rob Prior, Peter Astley (bass guitar), Geoff Taylor (keyboards) and Peter Noakes (vocals) recorded at Wirra Willa Studios, Glenfield Park.

At 16, he played drums with Stevie Wright (Easybeats), Sea of Clouds, Atlantis, the Northbridge Jazz Band and formed experimental funk band Hot Dogma with Craig Learmont (guitar, The Layabouts, Klezma Orcheztra), Peter Astley (bass) & Anthony Smith (keyboards, Flowers, Icehouse).[11][12]

In 1979, Prior formed Matt Finish[6] with singer/guitarist Matt Moffitt[6] and through to the end of the seventies, they played regular residencies in clubs and pubs around Sydney every night of the week, often double-gigging on weekends.[6]

In November 1979, radio station 2JJ broadcast Matt Finish live-to-air from the Civic Hotel in Pitt Street, Sydney and continued to broadcast the raw live performances for a year.[13]

The 1980s[edit]

During the eighties, Matt Finish was one of Australia's most popular and exciting live bands[14] performing thousands of live shows to more than a million people[15] including national tours with U2, XTC, Midnight Oil, INXS, The Ramones, Split Enz, Cold Chisel, Brian Ferry and The B-52's.[16][17][17]

Matt Finish released Matt Finish Play Africa (single 1980), Short Note (album 1981), Fade Away (EP 1981), Matt Finish (EP 1983), Word of Mouth (album 1983) and numerous singles.[6] The Short Note album was re-released on CD in 1989 and is still available from music shops after 25 years.[18]

In 1985, Prior travelled to London and Brussels to record the Matt Moffitt solo album By As Little As A Look with producer Nicky Graham (David Bowie, CBS A&R Manager).[19][20] While in London, he continued studying piano and music theory with Peter Sanders (London Symphony Orchestra) and electronic music using computers, synthesizers and samplers at CBS Studios London and Fairlight CMI's studios in Sydney.[20][21]

During the late eighties, Prior toured Australia as drummer with Roy Buchanan,[5] Champion Jack Dupree,[5] Mal Eastick, Girl Overboard, Troy Newman, Jackie Orszaczky, Guy Le Claire, Stephanie Howell, Baby Loves To Cha-Cha, Getaway Plane, T-Vibes, Bastiaan, Bob Armstrong and Charlie McMahon; performed drums with Rob Hirst (Midnight Oil) and hundreds of other drummers and percussionists at Bondi Pavilion; performed solo at the first Australian Music Day Concert;[22] performed each year at the Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane Music Trade Fairs and conducted drum clinics and music clinics in music shops around Australia sponsored by Australis Music, Tama Drums, Akai Samplers, Dynamic Music and Sabian Cymbals; taught drums at Drum City Sydney and Emmanuel School Randwick; composed music for productions at Sydney's Ensemble Theatre, Nimrod Theatre, Griffin Theatre, New Theatre (Newtown) and Belvoir St Theatre; and produced local independent artists including Megan Williams, One Franc, Sandi Chick, Amanda Mann and Guy Le Claire.[23]

In 1989, Prior travelled to New York to produce Matt Moffitt and Jennifer Barrett and perform percussion with Pacific Orchestra[24]

The 1990s[edit]

In 1990, Moffitt and Prior reformed Matt Finish with former Eurogliders members Guy Le Claire (guitar) and Lindsay Jehan (bass) and New Yorker Jennifer Barrett (guitar).[25] Managed and promoted by Prior, the band completed their most successful tour to date[26] including fifty sold-out performances around Australia. The band recorded four songs at Studios 301 and Bondi Road Studios that were released in 2009 on the album Kite on a Hurricane Day.[26]

During the nineties, John also performed with Olivia Newton-John, Crunch, Monkey Principle, Mick Taylor[4] from the Rolling Stones and Alex Lloyd.

In 1992, he formed Mammal Music production company, incorporated in 1994, and built Unity Gain Studios audio and video production facilities in Erskineville in 1997.[27]

During this period, John composed and produced several production music albums for Bruton Music UK and dozens of albums for local independent artists including ARIA Award winner Tibetan Prayer with Yungchen Lhamo (Best World/Traditional/Folk Album 1995[8]) and the ARIA Award nominated The Hipbone Connection with iOTA (Best Independent Album 2000[9] and No. 1 on the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) Charts), which spawned 6 charting singles.

He composed and produced music, dialogue and sound effects for film, television, theater and advertising including soundtracks for MTV, The World Around Us, AFTRS, Australian Federal Government, NSW Tourism, Australia Today Indonesia Tomorrow, Jesus Christ Superstar, feature film This Won't Hurt A Bit, award winning short film The Red Dress,[28] The Great Outdoors, Paradise Beach, Art of Stone, Barnardos, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, KFC, Levi's, Sun Alliance, Sky-Garden, Andronicus, Toyota, Slazenger, Buttercup, Just Jeans, Frutti, Hi-C, Milo, Sydney Turf Club, Deloitte, BA Insurance and Price Waterhouse.[27]

The 2000s[edit]

During 2001, Prior traveled to Europe and the US to attend numerous music festivals, then returned to Australia to produce the jazz/fusion album Day And Night with Bob Spencer's band Eclection before forming the experimental electronic project Ear Candy, with jazz maestro Dale Barlow, Matt Moffitt's long-term partner Wendy Dorsett and her son Kayci, and producing the underground dance hits Made in Australia, Feels Like Summer and Candy For Your Soul.

In 2002, he co-composed, arranged and produced the ARIA Award nominated rock opera The Story of Abbey (Best Show/Cast Album 2002), which also had a successful theatrical run at the Sydney Seymour Centre,[29] and produced the album The Need To Fall with rock band Merge.

In 2003 he produced Leave Nothing Untouched with dance troupe Astral Taxi and composed 20 albums of commercial library music that continue to appear in soundtracks around the world.

In 2004 he composed an original orchestral score for the Deloitte advertising campaign Out For Glory and formed the world/fusion band Newtown Beats with Eddie Quansah (Osibisa, Bob Marley, King Cobra).

In 2005 he produced jazz vocalist Jennifer Whatson's debut self-titled album and composed an orchestral score for New Theatre's production of the Spike Milligan play Badjelly the Witch, which ran in January 2006 and January 2007.

In 2006 he composed and produced a dramatic orchestral score for the short film A Fairytale of the City featuring Sam Worthington, produced recordings with guitarist Bob Spencer and singer Meryl Leppard and toured Australia with King Crimson singer/guitarist Adrian Belew and bassist Al Slavik.[30][30] Their first performance was at the East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival in Byron Bay to 75,000 people[31][32] and John and Rob Prior promoted further shows with Adrian at the Basement in Sydney and Manchester Lane in Melbourne.[33]

During 2006 Prior also produced recordings, directed videos and performed live with Sydney bands Newtown Beats, The Lovely Sons, Robot Productions, Hot Dogma and Swing Thing.

In November 2006, he produced the Matt Finish single Don't Fade Away with singer/guitarist Luke Dixon, bassist Matt Cornell and sound engineer Greg Clarke; directed, edited and promoted the accompanying video clip;[34] and in December 2006, John and his brother Rob promoted Matt Finish's Matt Moffitt Memorial Tour featuring Dixon, Cornell, Clayton and a guest performance by Rick Grossman.[35]

During 2007, he managed, promoted and performed on a 60-show Matt Finish tour featuring vocalist David Adams, bassist Harry Brus and a number of guest guitarists including Guy Le Claire, Eliot Reynolds,[36] Steve Edmonds, Les Rankin and Kevin Borich and jazz saxophonist Dale Barlow.[25][37][38] While touring, Prior also promoted and performed a number of music clinics and workshops at music stores around Australia in association with sponsors Allans Music, Tama and Sabian cymbals, including a performance at the Sydney Guitar Show featuring Kevin Borich and Steve Edmonds. In December 2007, he produced the Matt Finish album 1978 - 2008, released January 2008.[39]

During 2008, he produced Steve Lockyer's debut Sticks & Stones and David Kingdom's Tattoo and managed a Matt Finish tour with special guest jazz musicians Dale Barlow and Guy Le Claire, both childhood friends.[40] In December 2008, he directed, edited and produced a video clip for the Matt Finish song Short Note from archival footage.[41]

In January 2009, Prior edited, produced and authored the Matt Finish DVD Live at the Musicians Club 1981 with the only existing concert video of Matt Finish in the eighties.[42] In February 2009, he produced the Matt Finish EP New Frontier featuring singer David Adams and collated and remastered an extensive collection of Matt Finish recordings that were released in December 2009 as the Matt Finish Flight Case, a 12-disc box-set including a book and posters. The band performed more than 30 shows around the country during the year.[43] He also produced the albums The Shaggers with The Shaggers and The Cat, The Fiddle & This Tune with Sameera Bashir.

In 2010, Prior composed, produced and released an album of original Arabic music entitled The Red Sea, produced an album of Russian folk music with Sydney composer and pianist Tatyana, and performed drums live with Matt Finish, Newtown Beats, JFK, The Erskinevillains, Bulli Lama, The Swingers, Ray Husband's band and Mysterious Travellers, a tribute to Weather Report featuring acclaimed jazz musicians Dale Barlow (sax), Bill Risby (piano), Phil Scorgie (bass), Fabian Hevia and David Fester (percussion).

In 2011, he formed the band Stone and the Sky with Swedish vocalist Pontus Duvsjo and they recorded and performed a number of live shows including a benefit concert that raised $50,000 for the Prince of Wales Foundation. He produced the album Nowhere To Hide with vocalist Peter Colleer's band The Unnamed Sources

In February 2012, he promoted a tour with Matt Finish and then a series of concerts through the year at the Marrickville Bowling & Recreation Club entitled The Do featuring local soul and groove artists and a percentage of ticket sales was donated to local charity Father Dave's Youth Center.

During 2012 and 2013, he produced albums at his studio, Unity Gain Studios Erskineville, with Sophie Von, Ray Husband, Love Child, The Inner West, The Ians and Peter Colleer; plus the single Bass Straight with Gordon Trott.

In 2014 he produced and played on albums and soundtracks for Farooq Haider, Love Child, Deloitte Australia, Sacred Cow, Heavily Made Up Boy, Shanghaied Project, Warren McLean from Divinyls, Placebo Cure, Music Box, Ray Husband; Samantha Cartwright, Eddie Brown and also promoted, managed and performed shows with Matt Finish, Ray Husband and Oz Rock Roadshow featuring Mark Gable from Choirboys, Steve Mulry from Ted Mulry Gang and Bob Spencer from Skyhooks and The Angels.

John is currently the Secretary of The Association of Australian Musicians.

Graphic Design[edit]

John has also designed websites, advertising campaigns, album covers and posters and produced videos for companies and artists including Mammal Music, Unity Gain Studios, Matt Finish, Ray Husband, Guy Le Claire, Pan De Ciello, Mr House, Ear Candy, Geoffrey Cartwright, The Do, Stone and the Sky, The Inner West, JFK, Newtown Beats, Mysterious Travellers, Kurrajong Hotel and the Australian Independent Musicians Association, Eddie Brown, Farooq Haider and Samantha Cartwright.


  • ATC SCM-20 monitors
  • Apogee Symphony I/O converters & Symphony PCI card
  • Mac Dual Quad-Core Intel Xeon
  • Steinberg, Waves, Spectrasonics, Lexicon, IK Multimedia, Adobe, Microsoft, Final Cut Pro software
  • Manley Laboratories Vari-Mu valve compressor/limiter
  • Manley Laboratories Massive Passive valve equalizer
  • Manley Laboratories Voxbox valve dynamics (x2)
  • Peach valve pre-amps (x8)
  • Amek 9098 Dual Mic Amps
  • TC Electronic Fireworx
  • Neumann, Reslo, AKG, Sure and Tandy microphones
  • Tama Artstar maple drums
  • Sabian Cymbals
  • Guitars, keyboards, world percussion


Matt Finish[edit]

  • 1980 Matt Finish Play Africa: CIA / Mancini Shuffle
  • 1981 Short Note
  • 1981 Short Note / Layman's Day
  • 1981 Fade Away
  • 1983 Matt Finish
  • 1984 Words and Wars / Still Roads (I Need It) / Come on Over
  • 1984 Word of Mouth
  • 1984 Always Another / Forecast
  • 2001 Just a Short Note (The Best of)
  • 2006 Don't Fade Away 2006
  • 2008 1978 – 2008
  • 2009 Matt Finish Live at the Musicians Club 1981
  • 2009 New Frontier
  • 2010 Civic Hotel
  • 2010 Music Farm
  • 2010 Short Note Remastered
  • 2010 Parramatta Park & Melbourne Uni
  • 2010 Fade Away Sessions
  • 2010 Word of Mouth (2CD)
  • 2010 At The Tivoli
  • 2010 Truck Surfing
  • 2010 Kite on a Hurricane Day

Other Artists[edit]

  • 1986 Matt Moffitt / By As Little As A Look
  • 1987 Johnny Batchelor / Work And Save
  • 1991 Guy Le Claire / Guy Le Claire
  • 1991 Keith Urban / Keith Urban
  • 1993 Wicked Beat Sound System / Summer Sun, Inside, Stand Up
  • 1993 Pam Sethi / Sai Baba
  • 1993 Pam Sethi / Pam Sethi
  • 1994 Great South Land / Great South Land
  • 1994 Toni Nation / Toni Nation
  • 1995 Young Chen Lhamo / Tibetan Prayer
  • 1996 Heavenly Light Quartet / Heavenly Light Quartet
  • 1997 Guy Le Claire / Naughty
  • 1997 Xiang / Xiang
  • 1997 Bujuanes / This Is Life
  • 1998 Ragged Band / Distant Shores
  • 1998 Pan De Cielo / Bread of Heaven
  • 1998 iOTA / iOTA
  • 1999 Maréa / No Distractions Please
  • 1999 iOTA / The Hip Bone Connection
  • 2000 Merge / Interface
  • 2000 Mr House / The Fruits of Mr House
  • 2001 Eclection / Day And Night
  • 2001 Ear Candy / Made in Australia
  • 2001 Ear Candy / Feels Like Summer
  • 2001 Ear Candy / Candy For Your Soul
  • 2002 Merge / The Need To Fall
  • 2002 Play Act One / Story of Abbey
  • 2003 Astral Taxi / Leave Nothing Untouched
  • 2005 Jennifer Whatson / Jennifer Whatson
  • 2006 Meryl Leppard / Meryl Leppard
  • 2007 Robot Productions / Robot Productions
  • 2008 Steve Lockyer / Sticks & Stones
  • 2008 David Kingdom / Tattoo
  • 2009 The Shaggers / The Shaggers
  • 2009 Sameera Bashir / The Cat, The Fiddle & This Tune
  • 2010 Love Child / Love Child 1
  • 2010 John Prior / The Red Sea
  • 2011 The Unnamed Sources / Nowhere To Hide
  • 2011 Stone and the Sky / Stone and the Sky
  • 2011 Sophie Von / Sophie Von
  • 2012 Ray Husband / Together Now
  • 2012 Gordon Trott / Bass Straight
  • 2012 Peter Colleer / Peter Colleer
  • 2012 Love Child / Love Child 2
  • 2012 The Inner West / Fatal Sounds
  • 2013 The Ians / The Ians
  • 2013 Deloitte / Experience (soundtrack)
  • 2013 Redfern All Blacks (training videos)
  • 2013 Heavily Made Up Boy / My Hysteria
  • 2014 Farooq Haider / Dooriyan (video)
  • 2014 Love Child / Circus In Town
  • 2014 Deloitte / Luck (soundtrack)
  • 2014 Sacred Cow / Misery
  • 2014 Heavily Made Up Boy / First World Problems
  • 2014 Shanghaied Project / Shanghaied
  • 2014 Warren McLean / Brass Gongs
  • 2014 Guy Le Claire / Rock Hitz
  • 2014 Placebo Cure / Thistle Fixit
  • 2014 Music Box / Muzique
  • 2014 Ray Husband / Together Now
  • 2014 Samantha Cartwright / Edge Of The World
  • 2014 Eddie Brown / Things That Matter

Production Music[edit]

  • 1995 Bruton Music UK / Impact Promotions
  • 1996 Bruton Music UK / Pop Music
  • 1996 Bruton Music UK / various compilation albums
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Energy
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Smooth
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Pop Roots
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Club Soda
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Master Grooves
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Café Cool
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Extra Chunky
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Guitar Lover
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Retail Melodies
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Neo Classics
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Arabmatic
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Folk & Gypsy
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Atmosphere
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Earth
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Romantic Piano
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Unreal Christmas
  • 2003 Unreal Music / All Sorts
  • 2003 Unreal Music / Survival Kit
  • 2004 Unreal Music / Celestial Grooves
  • 2004 Unreal Music / Astral Riffs
  • 2004 Unreal Music / Urban Dub


  1. ^ McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Matt Finish'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-768-2. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  2. ^ Holmgren, Magnus; Reynolds, Eliot. "Matt Finish". Australian Rock Database. (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Zappa's mate makes it look easy – Music – Entertainment". 23 April 2006. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  4. ^ a b Nico Zentgraf (1 February 1995). "Mick Taylor database 1995". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  5. ^ a b c [1]
  6. ^ a b c d e f Mark Gibson (24 September 2007). "Matt Finish – Australian Music History". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  7. ^ "Discography". Yungchen Lhamo. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  8. ^ a b Yungchen Lhamo
  9. ^ a b [2]
  10. ^ "Mammal Music". Mammal Music. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  11. ^ "suffrin willy lee | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  12. ^ "Hot Dogma | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  13. ^ "Matt Finish / Matt Moffitt". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  14. ^ "Latest Music and Entertainment News". Rip It Up. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  15. ^ [3]
  16. ^ Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ a b "Optimism's Flames – Every Known Live XTC Show – Thanks to Dave Gregory!". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  18. ^ "Red Eye Records – Answer Page". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  19. ^ "As Little As a Look As : Track listing". Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  20. ^ a b Archived from the original on 19 March 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ [4][dead link]
  22. ^ "Australia | Chamber Music | Music to Inspire". Musica Viva. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  23. ^ [5][dead link]
  24. ^ "Wild one with a dark angel's voice". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 September 2003. 
  25. ^ a b Mark Gibson (24 September 2007). "Matt Finish – Australian Music History". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  26. ^ a b [6] Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  27. ^ a b Archived from the original on 12 September 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ [7]
  29. ^ "Stage struck". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 November 2002. 
  30. ^ a b "Elephant Talk". YouTube. 19 April 2007. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  31. ^ Carmine Pascuzzi. "East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival 2006". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  32. ^ Archived from the original on 5 January 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. ^ "Manchester Lane". Manchester Lane. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  34. ^ "Featured Content on Myspace". Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  35. ^ [8]
  36. ^ "SideShow Annie | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  37. ^ Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ Archived from the original on 21 July 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  39. ^ "Matt Finish To Release New Album – News". 5 January 2008. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  40. ^ "Matt Finish with Dale Barlow and Guy Le Claire at Vanguard, Newtown, Sydney, NSW on 18 Jun 08, 8:00 PM". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  41. ^ "Matt Finish – Short Note". YouTube. 25 January 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  42. ^ "Matt Finish – Fade Away 1981". YouTube. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  43. ^ Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]