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GONZO MAGAZINE: Jon speaks to John Ellis

John Ellis is one of those guys of whom I have been aware for many years. The first punk single that I ever heard was 'We Vibrate' by The Vibrators and I immediately thought "I wanna bit of that!". He has had a long and varied career as this biography pinched from his website shows:
Early days:
  • Studied Graphic Design at Middlesex University.
  • Film librarian for the British Film Institute.
  • Tree Surgeon.
  • Professional illustrator.
  • Formed the legendary BAZOOKA JOE.Band members included Adam Ant. First Sex Pistols gig was as support to Bazooka Joe.
  • Formed THE VIBRATORS. Extensive recording and touring.
  • Released 2 solo singles, BABIES IN JARS and HIT MAN. Tracks now available on MICROGROOVE vinyl EP.
  • Played guitar in Jean-Jacques Burnel’s Euroband for UK tour.
  • Formed RAPID EYE MOVEMENT featuring HOT GOSSIP dancers and electronics. Supported Jean-Jacques Burnel’s Euroband on UK tour.
  • Joined PETER GABRIEL band  for “China” tour and played on Gabriel’s 4th solo album.
  • Stood in for Hugh Cornwell for 2 shows by THE STRANGLERS at the Rainbow Theatre. Album from gig released.
  • Worked with German duo ISLO MOB on album and single.
  • Started working with PETER HAMMILL eventually doing many tours and recording on 7 albums.
  • Rejoined THE VIBRATORS for more recording and touring.
  • Recorded 2 albums under the name of PURPLE HELMETS with Jean-Jacques Burnel and Dave Greenfield of THE STRANGLERS.
  • Played additional guitar on THE STRANGLERS tour.
  • Joined THE STRANGLERS as full time member. Extensive touring and recording over 10 years.
  • Press officer for M11 Link Road campaign.
  • Started recording series of electronic instrumental albums as soundtracks for Art exhibitions. Released by Voiceprint.
  • Worked on JUDGE SMITH’S “CURLYS AIRSHIP” project over 5 year period.
  • Left THE STRANGLERS to work in Internet business.
  • Experimental projects with American accordionist MICHAEL WARD-BERGEMAN.
  • Guitarist on “Jimi Hendrix Welsh National Anthem” hoax. Massive coverage.
  • Occasional session work and soundtrack composition.
  • Started teaching guitar.
  • More sessions for JUDGE SMITH.
  • Started doing live solo work using looping technology and laptop.
  • Created CHANOYU RECORDS to release solo work.
  • Worked in Europe doing live soundtrack improvisation, Masterclasses etc.
  • Formed DREAM DETECTIVES with German artist MOI. MOSER to create multi-media projects and performances.
  • Became one of THE AMAZINGS, delivering group guitar tuition.
  • Currently developing a multi-media guitar tuition project.
With a pedigree like that, this was a man that I had to meet. I arranged a series of interviews which fell through for one reason or another, but on the day before my 54th birthday, I sat down with a small ginger cat on my knee, and a cup of tea in my hand and gave him a ring.


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