Jon Cleary (musician)

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Jon Cleary
Cleary in 2008
Cleary in 2008
Background information
Born (1962-08-11) August 11, 1962 (age 58)
Cranbrook, Kent, England
GenresFunk, R&B, soul
Years active1980–present
LabelsFHQ, Basin Street, Virgin/Point Blank, Ace
Associated actsBonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Snooks Eaglin

Jon Cleary (born August 11, 1962[1]) is a British-born American funk and R&B musician based in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he has studied the "musical culture and life of New Orleans" according to his website.[2] Cleary is an accomplished pianist as well as being a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter.[3]

Cleary performs with a number of prolific musicians including Bonnie Raitt,[4] Taj Mahal,[5] B.B. King,[6] Ryan Adams,[7] and Eric Burdon.[8] Compositions by Cleary have been recorded by such notable musicians as Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, and John Scofield on his album 2009 Piety Street.[9][10]

Cleary's current band is Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, who have released two albums.[11] Their album Go Go Juice won the Grammy Award for Best Regional Roots Music Album in the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.[12][13]

Early life[edit]

Cleary is originally from Cranbrook, Kent, in the south-east of England. He attended Colliers Green Primary School, Angley Secondary and then Cranbrook School.[14] His father played guitar but it was his uncle, returning from trips to America bringing recordings of Professor Longhair and others, who inspired his love for R&B. Cleary's focus was always more on art and music and everything that goes with it, than academic pursuits and soon left schooling behind to develop a life in music.[14][15]

Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen[edit]

Jon Cleary, Cornell Williams (b) & A.J. Hall (dr) at INNtöne Jazzfestival, Austria 2016

Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen consist of Cleary on keyboard and vocals; Derwin "Big D" Perkins (born 1974) on guitar; Cornell C. Williams (born 1962) on bass and backup vocals; and A.J. Hall on drums. All of the band members, except for Cleary, were born in New Orleans.

The band is generally well received, drawing large crowds of locals at classic New Orleans venues like Tipitina's and the Maple Leaf Bar. They are also a mainstay at the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival and have played at Bonnaroo as well as other music festivals.[16] Rolling Stone's David Fricke wrote of the Pin Your Spin album: "Cleary can be an absolute monster on his own, but Cleary’s full combo R&B is as broad, deep and roiling as the Mississippi river, the combined swinging product of local keyboard tradition, Cleary’s vocal-songwriting flair for moody Seventies soul and the spunky-meters roll of his Gentlemen".[17]

Cleary played piano on Annika Chambers' 2016 album, Wild & Free.[18]


  • Alligator Lips & Dirty Rice (Ace, 1994)
  • Moonburn (Virgin/Poinblank, 1999)
  • Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen (Basin Street, 2002)
  • Pin Your Spin (Basin Street, 2004)
  • Do Not Disturb (EP) (FHQ, 2007)
  • Mo Hippa (FHQ, 2008)
  • Occapella (FHQ, 2012)
  • Go Go Juice (FHQ, 2015)
  • Dyna-Mite (FHQ, 2018)


  1. ^ "Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen", BMA. Archived 2008-05-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Jon Cleary". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  4. ^ Ramsey, Jan. "Bonnie Raitt & Jon Cleary". OffBeat Magazine. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  5. ^ "Taj Mahal and Phantom Blues Band with Special Guest Jon Cleary | Soka University of America". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  6. ^ mark (2008-02-29). "Jon Cleary in Florida, Henry Butler in Maryland. B.B.King". Basin Street Records. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  7. ^ "Jon Cleary". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  8. ^ "Jon Cleary". Music Rising ~ The Musical Cultures of the Gulf South. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  9. ^ "New John Scofield album "Piety Street" proves pious". The Mac Weekly. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  10. ^ "John Scofield and Jon Cleary's Abiding Piety". Jambands. 2015-12-02. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  11. ^ "Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  12. ^ Oswell, Paul (2016-02-23). "Grammy winner Jon Cleary: 'Music isn't a choice for me – it's a bodily function'". The Guardian.
  13. ^ "Jon Cleary". 2020-11-23. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  14. ^ a b "Cranbrook's Grammy Award winning musician Jon Cleary". Community Ad. 2020-03-18. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  15. ^ "JON CLEARY - DYNA-MITE + Concertdata | ConcertMonkey". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  16. ^ writer, KEITH SPERA | Staff. "Farmstand Live, a two-day, drive-in music and food fest, is slated for Shrine on Airline". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  17. ^ Fricke, David (2004-04-21). "Jon Cleary: Pin Your Spin". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
  18. ^ Gunther, Marty. "Annika Chambers – Wild And Free | Album Review".

External links[edit]