Updated July 2005
Starting out as a teen idol in 60s boy band James Fenda and the Vulcanes (a single "Mistletoe Love" in 1964), John joined the Five Proud Walkers which later morphed into Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera. EGVO produced as number of singles (including the prog classic "Flames") and a self-titled album which featured the writing of both Hud and John (also re-issued by See For Miles). After splitting from front man Elmer (and shortening the band's name to Velvet Opera) they released a further album Ride A Hustler's Dream for CBS showcasing a more acoustic feel, with Paul Brett and Johnny Joyce making up the other two members.
After discussions at the White Bear, Cousins and Hooper's Arts Lab cum Folk Club, at which John's unusual percussive bass playing caught Cousin's eye, John joined the Strawbs with Hud in May 1970 as Dave, Tony and Rick Wakeman (also newly joined) were preparing for their showpiece London gig at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (which later was released as "Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios").
He's no slouch in the songwriting department either: his songs featured on both Opera LPs. For Strawbs, he penned perennial favourite "Heavy Disguise" and, of course with Hud wrote "Part Of The Union". The song was originally intended for release by John and Hud, under the name The Brothers. However, it was included on the album Bursting At The Seams and pulled off as the follow up single to "Lay Down". The rest, as they say, is history: the song struck to the heart of industrial strife-torn strike-weary Britain, with right wingers denouncing it in Parliament and left wingers and Trade Unions embracing it as their marching anthem. With Hudson Ford he was largely responsible for the hits "Burn Baby Burn" and "Floating In The Wind".
After dabbling with disco (on "Daylight") in the latter days of Hudson-Ford, the duo had a pop at punk, and charted again - a surprise hit with a demo intended for someone else, but which their management liked and refused to let the pair re-record it. "Nice Legs Shame About The Face" came out under the name of The Monks. Adding vocalist Terry Cassidy (and later guitarist Brian Willoughby), they recorded two albums in the same vein, "Bad Habits" and "Suspended Animation" (the first going gold and the second going platinum in Canada where they played stadiums and built an immense following). In parallel, Ford, Hudson and Cassidy also developed an alter ego as High Society, with classic 30s style melodies, catchy wordy songs, their album released in 1984 (now out on CD).
John rejoined Strawbs in 1983 after the 1970 band appeared on Rick Wakeman's "GasTank" TV show to perform "The Hangman and the Papist, leading first to an offer from the Cambridge Folk Festival Organiser to perform at that year's Festival and then the band's permanent revival. John remained with the band until 1985, when he relocated to America. He was replaced by Rod Demick.
He still lives in the US, in Long Island, NY, where he plays both as a solo artist and with various bands. He was a member of Ritchie Blackmore's band, "Blackmore's Night" from October 1998 until April 1999. "Under A Violet Moon", their second international release, featured John in the beautiful Alan Bell song, "Wind in the Willows" (not its original title - it is actually called "Bread and Fishes" but the other group members changed the title as well as one verse, removing its original Anglican connotation.) With the reformation of the "Bursting plus Brian" band, John once again took his place as bass guitarist with the Strawbs when they toured electrically in the UK in 1999-2001 and again in the summer of 2004.
John has proved a prolific solo artist over recent years, recording his first solo CD in 1998 - "Love Is A Highway" (which includes the poignant "Garden Of Love", in memory of his young son) followed close behind by his second "Heading For A High". A third, "Natural High", was released in March 2002, all three offering high quality melodic pop/rock, with the latter including some perhaps harsh reflections on the events of 11 Sep 2001as seen through the eyes of someone who has adopted the US as his homeland. His most recent album project is a retrospective re-recording, Backtracking, which allows him to revisit songs from various eras in his musical career, followed by a maxi single reworking of "New World".