Jon the Postman
Jon the Postman
|Birth name||Jonathan Ormrod|
|Genres||Punk rock, post-punk|
Jon was a postman in Manchester in the 1970s and after many years travelling and in various other jobs he is once again working for the post office in Manchester. One of the attendees at the first Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, he has been described as "a committed and omnipresent figure on the punk and post-punk scene in Manchester", and he became known for his eccentric behaviour at many local rock gigs during the late 1970s, including those of acts such as Joy Division and The Fall; He initially became known for waiting until headline bands had finished their set (sometimes before they had finished) before mounting the stage in a drunken state, grabbing the microphone, and performing his own versions of rock 'n' roll classics such as "Louie Louie". The first time he did this was at a Buzzcocks concert at the Band on the Wall venue on 2 May 1977, which he described:
"I think the Buzzcocks left the stage and the microphone was there and a little voice must have been calling 'This is your moment, Jon.' I've no idea to this day why I sang 'Louie Louie', the ultimate garage anthem from the 60s. And why I did it a cappella and changed all the lyrics apart from the actual chorus, I have no idea. I suppose it was my bid for immortality, one of those great bolts of inspiration." "For some reason it appeared to go down rather well. I suppose it was taking the punk ethos to the extreme – anyone can have a go. Before punk it was like you had to have a double degree in music. It was a liberation for someone like me who was totally unmusical but wanted to have a go."
He attracted a cult following and became a local celebrity in Manchester, playing his first official gig on 29 May 1977 in support of Warsaw (later renamed Joy Division). After a handful of solo performances, he was joined by local musicians, forming a band and becoming a regular support act, and when a special concert was held to mark the last night of Manchester's Electric Circus venue (captured on the Virgin Records album Short Circuit: Live at the Electric Circus), with a bill that included Joy Division, The Fall, Steel Pulse, and John Cooper Clarke, he closed proceedings by performing "Louie Louie" backed by Buzzcocks, with an introduction from Pete Shelley: "That's it from us, but the favourite of all Manchester, the one guy who never appears on the bill but is always there – Jon the Postman". He released two albums, Jon the Postman's Puerile (which was the first record to feature Mark E. Smith, who introduced "Louie Louie"; A version of the song by The Fall with Jon on vocals appears on The Fall's Live 1977 album) and Jon the Postman's Psychedelic Rock 'N' Roll 5 Skinners Steppin' Out of Holts' Brewery, both released on Dave Bentley's Bent Records. The first featured an extended version of "Louie Louie", which was described by Stewart Home in his book Cranked Up Really High: Genre Theory and Punk Rock as taking "the amateurism of the Kingsmen to its logical conclusion with grossly incompetent musicianship and a drummer who seems to be experiencing extreme difficulty simply keeping time," while the second included a similar treatment of Van Morrison's "Gloria". Both albums were reissued on a single CD by Overground Records in 1998. A further recording session known as Jon the Postman's Legendary Lost Session was never released other than on a bootleg, although two songs turned up on a long-unavailable compilation LP entitled The Disparate Cognoscenti released on the Fall's now-defunct Cog Sinister label, which Jon helped to run (along with The Fall's fanclub), while studying for a degree in Politics & History at Salford University. After he lost his job with the GPO, Jon travelled around Europe and spent five years living in San Francisco, before returning to Manchester.
Jon's antics in taking the stage and his incompetent performances have been taken as a reference point for both other musicians and a politician. Mick Middles described how Chris Helme became a member of The Seahorses after regularly mounting the stage in a similar fashion to Jon at performances by the band which included future Seahorses drummer Andy Watts and bass guitarist Stuart Fletcher, where he would "lurch from the crowd, clutching a bottle in the manner of Manchester punk legend, Jon the Postman, and launch into impromptu vocals". Music writer Steven Wells compared Sarah Palin to Jon the Postman in 2008, comparing Palin's public speaking to Jon's onstage performances.
Also in the band were, David Buckley, Tony Turner, Tim Lyons and Mark Harris. Mark Harris died on 19 October 2016.
- John the Postman's Puerile (1978), Bent
- Steppin' Out (of Holt's Brewery) (1978), Bent (as John the Postman's Psychedelic Rock 'n' Roll Five Skinners)
- Jon the Postman's Legendary Lost Session (unreleased)
- The Disparate Cogscienti (1988), Cog Sinister – 2 tracks credited to Jon the Postman's Legendary Lost
- Birkett, Paul T. (25 August 2015). "Jonathan Ormrod obituary". Retrieved 17 November 2016 – via The Guardian.
- Inglis, Ian (2006) Performance of Popular Music: History, Place and Time, Ashgate, ISBN 978-0-7546-4057-8, p. 93
- Ogg, Alex (2006) No More Heroes: a Complete History of UK Punk from 1976 to 1980, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 978-1-901447-65-1, pp. 310–311
- Home, Stewart (1996) Cranked up Really High: Genre Theory and Punk Rock, 2nd edn., Codex, ISBN 978-1-899598-01-4
- Quantick, David "John the Postman's Puerile (review)", Q, September 1998
- Haslam, Dave (2000) Manchester, England, Fourth Estate Ltd, ISBN 978-1-84115-146-5
- Lee, CP (1998) "Liner notes: Jon the Postman's Puerile CD", Overground Records
- Voiceprint Music – Jon The Postman – Puerile Archived 11 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- Smith, Mark E. & Middles, Mick (2003) The Fall, Omnibus Press, ISBN 978-0-7119-9762-2, pp. 119–120
- Gorman, Dave "Acting", davegorman.com, retrieved 20 August 2009
- Middles, Mick (1999) Breaking into Heaven: The Rise and Fall of the Stone Roses, Omnibus Press, ISBN 978-0-7119-7546-0, p. 218
- Wells, Steven (2008) "Why Sarah Palin is totally rock'n'roll", The Guardian, 2 October 2008
- "Jon The Postman RIP - Louder Than War". louderthanwar.com. 27 July 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- Jon the Postman at the Manchester District Music Archive