bio: jon camp - continued ...
One of the more bizarre things that happened during Jon’s time with ‘The Nocturnes’ occurred when they were auditioning for a new girl singer. A young lady from Bolton in the north of England took the stage and did an extremely good rendition of Blood, Sweat and Tears ‘Spinning Wheel’- her name was Annie Haslam-she didn’t get the job but Jon would meet her about a month later when he went to audition for the bass players gig in a band called ‘Renaissance’- she’d been successful that time and so was he!
Jon had seen the advert for ‘Renaissance’ in the Melody Maker and although the bands name wasn’t mentioned it stated that a classical approach and ability to handle complex arrangements was essential-just what he was looking for.
No less than eighty bass guitarists had come and gone before Jon walked into the basement studio at Miles Copeland’s house in St. John’s Wood in London’s suburbia. Here he met Annie and John Tout and was given the music to a partially formed piece that would become ‘Prologue’. Everybody clicked immediately and the obvious potential of the trio was evident even with the absence of any kind of percussion!
The recruitment of the other members of the early ‘Renaissance’ is well documented but suffice to say this line up was on tour in Germany two weeks after Jon’s audition!
On return, a British tour followed but it was obvious to Jon, John and Annie that the current ensemble did not feel right so more auditions followed at Jubilee Studios in Covent Garden and Terry Sullivan, freshly arrived from the USA took the drum chair.
One day Michael Dunford who had been working with the band previously arrived with some basic ideas for some new songs-prior to this the band had been searching for another electric guitarist but when they started playing with an acoustic it immediately felt right and gave Jon’s distinctive style room to breath-the classic and only ‘real’ format was at last all together!
There followed many years of wonderful times, from arriving in New York and rushing to Manny’s Music Store to buy equipment for the concert that night supporting ‘Stories’ (who were no. 1 in the charts with ‘Louie, Louie’) at Brooklyn College and walking on stage to a standing ovation before a note was even played to the concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Royal Albert Hall in London, Penn’s Landing in Pennsylvania and the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles-there are just too many to list.
As much as Jon enjoyed touring-to him it was his ‘raison d’etre’ he could never wait to get into the recording studio and see the results of the long hours of writing and rehearsing come to fruition-especially when you were working with the finest orchestra’s and choirs in the world.
Jon’s dedication to taking the bass guitar to new levels and exploring it’s endless possibilities began to pay dividends and when he appeared in the ‘Melody Maker’ poll of the top ten bassists three years in a row he felt he was at last doing justice to his chosen instrument.
Once again the saga of ‘Renaissance’ is well documented and should there be any specific period that interests visitors to this website Jon will be only too pleased to answer any questions-that way this biography will be more succinct.
During his time with ‘Renaissance’ Jon met many people both in an out of the music business-one of these was the great Roy Wood.
They formed an instant bond and soon he was playing in Roy’s band whenever his schedule with ‘Renaissance’ allowed.
He and Roy spent many happy times together both on the road and in the studio. Considering ‘Woody’ a genius he was fascinated by his ability to play any instrument put in front of him as well as recording in the studio completely by himself!
It was around this time that Jon started to pick up the guitar again and invested in some keyboards-he was keen to see what he could achieve on his own.
In 1986 Jon decided that the time to leave Renaissance had finally arrived. Several factors influenced his decision and it would not be fair to list them here but suffice to say it remains one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.
Through the Roy Wood connection he had met Robin George(he played guitar in the band) and Robin was embarking on a solo career which involved a world tour with REO Speedwagon and Jon took the bass players position. Musically this was a much more rock orientated band and Jon enjoyed himself immensely as he had always hankered after playing in this style.
It was while the band were rehearsing at his studio in Shropshire that a new keyboard player was recruited, his name was John Young and as it turned out the two of them would go on to form ‘Cathedral’ a band of very experienced musicians who produced some of Jon’s favourite music to date.
The other members of the band were Brett Wilde on guitar and Tony Bodene on drums. Jon and John were sharing lead vocals at the time but the complexity of the music was such that Mark Goddard-Parker joined them as lead vocalist for a while and towards the end of their lifespan he was replaced by Max Bacon(of the Steve Howe/Steve Hackett band GTR).
The band signed a publishing deal with Warner-Chappell Music but due to the financial commitment that would be required to put them in the studio and on the road a record deal was never forthcoming- however a good deal of material was recorded at Jon’s ‘Esprit Studios’ at his home in Hinton, Shropshire and although only intended as high quality demos he has decided that they should be released and will shortly be available via this website.
After the demise of ‘Cathedral’ Jon concentrated on upgrading his studio into a commercial residential operation and enjoyed working with many local bands and individuals ranging from brass bands to ten piece soul groups and even doing a live recording of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ in an Abbey!
One of his clients were a band called ‘China Boy High’ who achieved significant success as what today would be described as an ‘indie’ band
Jon’s most recent foray into live performance has been with legendary trio ‘The Groundhogs’ whose albums ‘Split’ and ‘Thank Christ for the Bomb’ were landmarks in ‘70’s British rock.
The freedom allowed within a three-piece was a breath of fresh air to him and he was able to pursue his quest to take the bass to new heights.
As we write Jon has completed material for his first solo album which will be recorded at his home in Staffordshire where he lives with his wife Jan. He has two daughters-Natasha, who works in media and Danielle who is a teacher.
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