INTERVIEW: Jilted John is back - Graham Fellows on John Otway, Debbie Harry and how Gordon is STILL a moron!
Gordon is a moron! Buyers of just about any punk rock compilation album ever will have heard this song, and many more besides - the work of Jilted John, otherwise known as Graham Fellows.
The novelty single, which was released in 1978 turns 40 this year - and to celebrate, Graham - who is also well known for his comedic alter ego John Shuttleworth, is going out on tour.
Graham sat down with Hayley O’Keeffe to spill the beans on punk rock, doing it yourself and getting a snog from Blondie’s Debbie Harry!
Jilted John came into being while Graham was still a drama student at Manchester Polytechnic. He wrote Jilted John during a lunch break at college on an acoustic guitar that was lying around in the canteen.
A demo was heard by local punk label Rabid Records who signed Graham up, and a single was recorded by the legendary Martin Hannet who produced Buzzcocks, Joy Division, Magazine and John Cooper Clarke.
Graham said: “It does feel like 40 years, but in a way it doesn’t. For years and years people would say they wanted to hear that I succumbed to playing it at a benefit about four years ago. I was then asked by Rebellion Festival (Blackpool punk rock festival) to do it and I got a band together. It went really well and we thought we would do the odd gig - and now we want to mark 40 years and celebrate the album.”
He added: “I don’t really feel punk now and I didn’t really identify with punk at the time - I’m punk in the way that I am a cottage industry. It’s always been just me going out with my keyboard and I’ve never had a big team - I’ve always made my own CDs too. That’s the punk ethos.”
He added: “I am a Green and I did a song for Greenpeace, I am eco and into recycling and I set up a recording studio in Orkney. Part of me would like to see the world destroy itself though - but hopefully that won’t happen.”
On the tour Graham will be supported by Aylesbury hero John Otway - who Graham says has been a huge influence on his musical output.
He said: “I supported him years ago and he has kept going being himself for years. He was a big influence on me as Jilted John - I was a teenager studying in Manchester and I heard I’m Really Free and that kicked it off for me.”
During his heady brush with pop stardom as Jilted John, Graham was played by John Peel, and also got to appear on Top of The Pops, where he achieved every teenage boy of that time’s dream - getting a ‘snog’ from Blondie’s Debbie Harry.
He said: “I did get a snog from Debbie Harry! But only on the cheek. Every adolescent teenage boy fancied Debbie Harry so it was part of a photoshoot for the NME ‘John Gets Lucky’ - I was hunk of the month in Jackie too you know?!”
So there you have it! 40 years since Jilted John - and he’s back for twelve dates in and around our area later this year, I wonder if Gordon and Julie got married?
Wednesday, October 3 - Harpenden Halls
Friday, October 5 - Liverpool 02 Academy
Saturday, October 6 - Cambridge Junction
Sunday, October 7 - Brighton Haunt
Monday, October 8 - London Koko
Thursday, October 11 - Frome Cheese and Grain
Friday, October 12 - Wolverhampton Slade
Saturday, October 13 - Glasgow King Tuts
Sunday, October 14 - Middlesborough Town Hall
Thursday, October 18 - Lincoln Engine Shed
Friday, October 19 - Sheffield 02 Academy
Saturday, October 20 - Manchester Dancehouse