"'The first and the best, and where is he now that we need him?" [1]

"Always plainly miles ahead of anybody who might have considered themselves competition, I think....I wish he was still doing stuff like that, I mean, he still works but mainly doing that again, really, rather than new things." [2]

John Cooper Clarke (born 25 January 1949) is an English performance poet who first became famous during the punk rock era of the late 1970s when he became known as a "punk poet". He released several albums in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and continues to perform regularly. His recorded output has mainly centred on musical backing from the Invisible Girls, which featured Martin Hannett, Steve Hopkins, Pete Shelley, Bill Nelson, and Paul Burgess. In 1979 he had his only UK top 40 hit with "Gimmix! (Play Loud)". Clarke toured with Linton Kwesi Johnson, and has performed on the same bill as bands such as the Sex Pistols, the Fall, Joy Division, the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Elvis Costello, Rockpile and New Order (including at their May 1984 Music for Miners benefit concert at London's Royal Festival Hall). His set is characterised by lively, rapid-fire renditions of his poems, usually performed a cappella. Often referred to as "the bard of Salford", he usually refers to himself on stage as "Johnny Clarke, the name behind the hairstyle"....(Read more)

Links to Peel

It is not inconceivable that John Cooper Clarke's laconic Mancunian drawl was what attracted Peel to his work, and which is something that would fuel his fascination with Mark E. Smith (a friend of Clarke's) and the Fall at around the same time. Clarke recorded two sessions for Peel (four years apart) and one track was selected by JP for inclusion in his Festive 61. He referred to Clarke in an end of the year round-up as "a witty and perceptive poet." [1] At least one writer has identified that Clarke, in his seniority, has something in common with JP:

"That night, he performs to 300 people at a club in Islington. The majority of the audience are decades his junior. Like John Peel towards the end of his life, Cooper Clarke has reached a point where he can connect with a new generation on the basis of a shared lack of responsibility, like grandparents do with their grandchildren." [3]

Clarke lamented the demise of Factory boss Tony Wilson, commenting, "I miss him being around for sure; we’re poorer for not having him in the world. Who’s around like him, these days? Especially now John Peel’s gone." [4]

Festive Fifty Entries


1. Recorded: 1978-10-31. First broadcast: 06 November 1978. Repeated: 29 November 1978

  • I Married A Monster From Outer Space [2] / Readers' Wives / Health Fanatic / Spilt Beans

2. Recorded: 1982-02-24. First broadcast: 15 March 1982. Repeated: 01 April 1982

  • Midnight Shift / The Day My Pad Went Mad [3] / Night People / The New Assassin

Other Shows Played

External Links

  1. 1977: Banned Bands, The Listener, 22-29 December 1977, reprinted in Olivetti Chronicles, Corgi edition, p. 256.
  2. ""And was DLT the result of their loathsome union?" (JP comment on repeat).
  3. The Peel Sessions lists 'The Day My Pay Went Mad'.
  4. The Peel Sessions, p.220.
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