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Warman was born in Bethnal Green, East London. He then moved to Hackney at the age of seven where he enjoyed a normal idyllic childhood, frequently climbing trees and scrumping over Victoria Park. Within Warman's home there was always music in some shape or form although nobody played an instrument, his mother sang and his father was a terrible singer no matter how much he tried. Warman enjoyed his school years very much and when he first heard The Beatles at the age of 11, he was walking home from school when he passed another school building and heard music. He was so transfixed by the sound so much he walked up to the Dansette record player to find an Ep cover for the song playing - "Love me do". He decided to join the school choir. He was picked to sing at the Royal Opera House in 1964, where he sang alongside Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi. Warman considered this a pivotal event in his choice of singing as a career.
Warman was (and remains) a keen fan of both The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. He had no hesitation in choosing between being a Mod or a Rocker once he had heard The Who. After Jimi Hendrix (considered a "Guitar Messiah" by Warman) had burst onto the British music scene in 1966 when Warman first heard "Hey Joe" he realised all he wanted to be was a Rock Star. Whilst in school Warman wrote a song called, "Cosmic Butterflies" and joined a band called "Sounds Like Six," with Kevin Molyneux on lead guitar. During the late 1960s Warman frequented many live music performances including Jimi Hendrix thrice and other groups including The Move, The Iveys and Pink Floyd whilst using the Melody Maker as his bible.
Rock career 1970-1976
In the early 1970s, Warman joined the group Bearded Lady (originally named Elmo's Fire) as a vocalist/rhythm guitarist with fellow members Freddy Sheriff on guitar, Chris Peel on bass, Mickey Irvine (Later replaced by Paul 'The Mouse' Martin and then Clive 'Short Bar' Brooks and finally Bryson Graham) on drums and Kim Jury and Theresa O'Neil as backing singers. Warman and Sheriff had been in school and The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme together and were brought together musically by a mutual friend named Yvonne Castro. The group's first gig was at the Morpeth Castle, during which the only member of the audience walked out after the first song. Being managed by John Hunt and Barry Sullivan's Hunsul Enterprises very much a "Pub Rock" group, they performed at many London (as well as many other towns) venues including, The Hope And Anchor, The Brecknock, The Kensington, The Cock At Kilburn And The Lord Nelson, even being a support act for Humphrey Lyttelton in Fishguard. The group focused their efforts on their live act and had a solid following built up over four years, including Mickie Most who unsuccessfully tried to sign them to RAK Records three times. Chuck Berry also came to see the band. During the period in which Warman was in Bearded Lady he was often to be found frequenting the clubs of London where he was in contact with many other "scene" people including David Bowie, who referred to Warman by name, which was a true accolade for an aspiring rock star.
Bearded Lady entered the National Folk And Rock Contest in 1974 and won the first heat only to come second to Curly (later to be Q-Tips) in the finals. Bearded Lady finally managed to sign a record deal with Youngblood records (after a deal with Private Stock also failed) which saw the release of a single "Rock Star"/"Country Lady" in 1975. The band took out on a tour of West Germany (Zoom in Frankfurt and P.N. Club in Munich) to support a German release of the single on Bellaphon/Youngblood International which was as close as the group would ever get to a world tour. Warman worked a day job to support his wife and young family (Daughters Zowie born 1973 and Tammy) but still insisted the band commit to at least four nights of rehearsals a week. One day whilst Warman was waiting for the band to pick him up in their van the other band members had decided to sell all their equipment and the van and with that the group ceased to exist. The last performance by Bearded Lady was at the Marquee Club supported by The Jam. After the collapse of Bearded Lady, Warman set out with demos in hand to get a solo deal. It was around this time that he started spelling his surname "Warman" rather than "Waughman", as both "Johnny" and "Warman" have six letters.
Mind Games 1977–1980
Warman first approached Ariola Hansa Records with his demo tape of three songs, Head On Collision, London's Burning and Mind Games. After the tape had been played he was asked as to which language he was singing in "That's Cockney Mate!" was the reply as Warman walked out. Warman next approached Arista Records with the same demo tape and they had the songs rerecorded at Decibel Studios with Warman on vocals and rhythm guitar, Mark Arthurworry on guitar, Paul Martinez on bass and Jeff Rich on drums. When Warman returned to Arista with the rerecorded tracks they decided they were not interested in signing him but at the same time let him keep the tape he had recorded, which he would now have to pitch at other record companies. Warman contacted Barry Anthony at Ring O' Records and gave him the tapes, and in December 1977 he was called to meet Ringo Starr's manager, Hilary Gerrard, who told him, "Ringo really loves it". Warman was signed to the label for £3,000 per year and £3,000 for the publishing rights. He was also given two cases of beer and a Christmas tree to take home for his family.
Along with Jeff Rich and Paul Martinez, Warman recorded an album at Startling Studios at Tittenhurst Park. Warman chose the producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven because of his liking for the sound of The Jam. They immediately went about remixing the three track "demo" tape recorded at Decibel Studios at Morgan Studios which was released as a three track single on Ring O' Records (2017 112) in January 1978, which did not chart. Warman recorded the entirety of the album Hour Glass at Startling Studio and remixed at Roundhouse Studios planned initially for release as Ring O' 2339 202 in 1978. During his period at Ring O', Warman also featured in the music video for Dirk & Stig's "Ging Gang Gollie" promotional music video. Ring O' Records was unable to release the planned album, which was shelved for a year until issued by RCA/Able in West Germany only in June 1979. The album was launched at Hamburg Planetarium and Hour Glass received strong reviews but failed to make any chart impact. A single was released to accompany the Hour Glass album in West Germany, the new "Golden Lions" recorded at Townhouse backed with "Tomorrow's Babies" from the album, which also failed to chart.
Undaunted by the collapse of Ring O' Records and lack of chart success, Warman continued to work on his own sound a formed the group 3 Minutes, with Jeff Rich on drums and Paul Martinez on bass. Warman states that the band's name came to him in a dream where he was told "you shall be called Three Minutes" although now Warman jokes that the band lasted about as long. 3 Minutes toured supporting The Vapors for 29 dates and XTC for 6 dates. The group disbanded after releasing a single in 1980 on the Elton John owned label, The Rocket Record Company, XPRESS 40 "Automatic Kids"/"Future Fun" which to date was Warman's most widespread release seeing releases in Britain, France, West Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. Although 3 Minutes has disbanded after only one single the door was now open at Rocket for more solo releases in 1981.
From The Jungle 1981-1983
1981 saw the most chart successful period in Johnny Warman's career with the all but universal release of his second solo album Walking Into Mirrors. The sound was heavily rooted in demos and performances by Warman's former band 3 Minutes although neither of the two former band members featured on the album. Warman attempted to hire the best possible array of musicians for his new album, originally suggesting that Phil Collins play the drums. Due to a schedule conflict Phil was unavailable and suggested Jerry Marotta who at the time was in Peter Gabriel's backing band. Dave Lawson was brought in to play keyboards. Recording was set to begin to Townhouse Studios' Studio Two "The Stone Room" on 9 December 1980. Recording started in earnest on time, but with the news of the sudden death of John Lennon in the air.[clarification needed]
By the end of the first day of recording four backing tracks had been completed the first track being "Walking Into Mirrors". Over the next two weeks the album continued to develop, Tony Levin invited the musicians to The Record Plant in New York City and Larry Fast also became involved in the project before moving the recording once more to the House Of Music in West Orange, New Jersey, during which time the Ampex tape the recordings were made on started to decompose. Prior to leaving for America Warman had asked Peter Gabriel if he would sing on the album to which he agreed, with the musicians moving to America and then returning to England they had forgotten that Peter had said he would contribute towards the album so were surprised one day when the phone rang informing them that Peter was on his way to the studio. Warman quickly had to choose which song he wanted Peter's vocals on and decided that he would sing on "Screaming Jets" a song Warman had written in 25 minutes after watching Apocalypse Now. Warman had been changing the arrangements on "Screaming Jets" and his vocal track had his commands on it for changing keys, which when Peter heard it he asked if that was staying and that he would try something like that on his next album. Warman then decided to keep the vocal track with the commands in as the master vocal track, even though Warman had had a cold at the time of recording. Warman, Peter and Larry then worked together on how the track should feel and what noises Peter should make which ended with Peter chanting throughout the record. Peter had arranged prior to coming to the studio that he would take a fee of £250, which Warman has since said was the best £250 he's ever spent.
The lead single from the album was "Dance With Me" which was backed by the non-album "King Robot". The second single was "Screaming Jets" backed by the non-album "American Machines" which was also released before the album. "Screaming Jets" also saw the creation of Warman's first music video which was directed by Jeff Baines. Warman was promised an Australian tour if the single sold 7,000 copies in Australia. The single sold 76,000 copies and reached number 9 in the Australian charts though the tour never happened. Warman did however appear on an episode of "Countdown" with Molly Meldrum which was filmed in London. The album was released in July 1981 in Great Britain, France, West Germany, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand and sold over 100,000 copies worldwide. A second music video was also made for the title track of the album "Walking Into Mirrors" also directed by Jeff Baines. Later in 1981 "Martian Summer" was also released as a single although only in the Netherlands and the final single from the album was a remix of "Three Minutes" backed with the non-album Jon Glass.
With Warman's success with the Walking Into Mirrors he took to the road including live and television performances in Sweden, West Germany, Belgium, France, Spain (Music Express), Portugal (Festa é Festa), Great Britain, performing second on the bill to Ian Hunter at the New Pop Festival in Rotterdam in 1982. Rocket encouraged Warman to start work on a second Rocket album which he took to at The Manor Studios in Oxford. Warman invited back Jerry Marrota and Tony Levin as well as inviting Chris Payne of Dramatis (who at that time were Gary Numan's backing band) and Andy Clark who had just returned from backing David Bowie on tour. Warman's concept for the From The Jungle To The New Horizons album was the process from Apeman to Spaceman. The album would be a more musically complicated production than the previous Walking Into Mirrors album. Kiki Dee was invited to contribute backing vocals to (United) The State Of America and Looking Back (To See If Someone's Looking Back At Me). Although Kiki was only scheduled to work in the studio for one day she (as all the other musicians) enjoyed herself so much she stayed for three days. "Dream Dream Dream" was the lead and only single from the album being released on Rocket a month before the release on the album. Neither the single nor the album managed to make any impact in the charts and once again with the downsizing of Rocket Records Warman found himself without a record label even with all the successes of 1981/2 under his belt.
(Here Comes The) Future 1984-1990
With the ending of contract with Rocket Records Warman focused his attention more towards song writing for other artists. Warman recorded his final solo release "(Here Comes) The Beat Patrol"/"Don't Call Me" in 1984 under the guidance of Mickie Most, who had been a fan of Warman's for 10 years. The single was released on RAK records in Great Britain only in October 1984 even though there was no formal contract on the release. Fortunately for Warman both sides of the single were picked up by other artists and released with success. "Beat Patrol" was covered by Starship in 1987 and reached number 46 in the U.S. charts and the album that it featured on the No Protection album which reached number 12 in the U.S.. Ringo Starr also recorded a version of "Beat Patrol" which has never been released. "Don't Call Me" was covered on Asia's 1992 album Aqua.
By 1985 Warman's attempts at composing music for other artists started to pay off as The Star Sisters covered the Johnny Warman/Gary Osbourne composed song "Skin On Skin" (Originally planned for release by Melissa Manchester). In 1986 not only were ever more artists covering Warman's compositions and co-compositions but once again he saw himself contracted to a record label releasing a single as a member of the band Future. The group released "War Of The Roses"/"Main Attraction" on 10 Records, The A Side being a "Song For Europe" which was performed on B.B.C. 1 on 2 April 1986 and received 76 points coming in eight out of eight entries.
Time Takes Time 1991-1999
Warman had had a long-standing friendship with Ringo Starr since 1977 at Ring O'Records. When Starr began work on his first studio album in nine years Warman was asked to contribute in a song writing capacity. Warman and Starr traveled to Monaco to focus on songwriting which produced "Don't Go Where The Road Don't Go", "Everyone Wins", "After All These Years" and "Runaways". Three of the songs were used on the album and the fourth saw light on the b-side of a single. Warman supported Starr's second All-Starr Band at two of their performances in London. Both Starr and Warman performed "Don't Go Where The Road Don't Go" as part of their sets, a song Starr continues to perform live.
At the same time as working with Starr, Warman once again formed a band "4 Bills And A Ben" in 1991 with Jeff Rich (Who had been in 3 Minutes) also drummer for Status Quo at the time on drums along with John "Rhino" Edwards also of Status Quo on Bass, Steve Byrd on lead guitar, Andy Hamilton on Saxophone, Spike Edney on Keyboards and Mark Rich on Guitar. The band mainly plays covers of 1960s and 1970s songs and most of their activity is for charity, Due to the commitment of all band members to other musical activities the band is only "occasional" although they continue to perform, all be it occasional.
Also whilst not only working with Starr and performing with 4 Bills And A Ben, Warman was also collaborating with Geoff Downes and Asia which saw four of Warman's co-compositions on Asia's album Aqua, six of Warman's co-compositions on Geoff's solo album Vox Humana and Warman singing the lead vocals on the track "Satellite Blues".
In 1993 the Johnny Warman/Nick Graham song "Our World" was entered into "A Song For Europe" on 3 April, in which every song was sung by Sonia. The song was placed second with 77,685 votes and Sonia released the song on her "Better The Devil You Know" album (Although the song was originally intended for release by Tracey Ackerman).
Warman returned to the studio again in 1996-97 to record two albums of Library music for De Wolfe with band mates Andy Hamilton and Steve Byrd along with Brad Lang, Pete Thoms, Roger Beaujolais, Steve Hamilton, Neil Angilley, Dave Clayton and Nigel Brown. One of each of the two Andy Hamilton/Johnny Warman co-compositions "Johnny The Jazz Freak" and "Grasslands" can be found on the first and second album respectively.
The Mods and Tomorrow's Babies 2000-
|Rock Star/Country Lady|
|1/1978||Johnny Warman||Ring O'Records||2017 112||Head On Collision/London's Burning/Mind Games|
|1979||Johnny Warman||RCA/Able||PB 5658||Golden Lions/Tomorrow's Babies|
|5/9/1980||3 Minutes||Rocket||XPRES 40
|Automatic Kids/Future Fun|
|3/4/1981||Johnny Warman||Rocket||XPRES 51
|Dance With Me/King Robot|
|5/6/1981||Johnny Warman||Rocket||XPRES 56
|Screaming Jets/American Machines|
|1981||Johnny Warman||Rocket||6000 732||Martian Summer/Three Minutes|
|13/11/1981||Johnny Warman||Rocket||XPRES 57||Three Minutes/Jon Glass|
|5/11/1982||Johnny Warman||Rocket||XPRES 89
|Dream Dream Dream/Satellite|
|5/10/1984||Johnny Warman||RAK||RAK 376||(Here Comes) The Beat Patrol/Don't Call Me|
|4/1986||Future||10 Records||Ten 119||War Of The Roses/Main Attraction|
|1989||Spirit Of The Forest||Virgin
|Spirit Of The Forest/Spirit Of The Forest|
|6/1979||Johnny Warman||RCA/Able||PL 30052||Hour Glass|
|Walking Into Mirrors|
|12/1982||Johnny Warman||Rocket||6302 214||From The Jungle To The New Horizons|
|22/4/2002||Simply Vinyl||SVLP 378||Mustn't Grumble: The Steve Marriott Memorial Concert 2001|
|22/4/2002||Sanctuary||SANCD 112||Mustn't Grumble: The Steve Marriott Memorial Concert 2001|
|7/10/2002||Johnny Warman||Angel Air||SJPCD 127||Walking Into Mirrors|
|12/1/2004||Bearded Lady||Angel Air||SJPCD 153||The Rise And Fall|
|14/6/2004||Johnny Warman||Angel Air||SJPCD 170||From The Jungle To The New Horizons|
|11/4/2005||Johnny Warman||Angel Air||SJPCD 183||Hour Glass|
|1996||De Wolfe||DWCD 0207||Jazz Phase Two - Acid Jazz|
|1997||De Wolfe||DWCD 0225||Summer Vibrations|
|2001||Chappell||CHAP 274||Wacky And Tacky|