John Cooper Clarke (aka JCC, The Bard of Salford, Punk Poet Extraordinaire) was born on the 25 January 1949 at Hope Hospital, Salford, Lancashire. His father George was an engineer, and his mother, Hilda, was an unpublished poet. He has one younger brother.
After teenage years as a Mod, John served time as an apprentice engineer, a lab technician at Salford University (then Salford Tech, where he was interviewed by Tony Wilson for Granada TV) and also a lead type compositor. After a brief unsuccessful marriage, and a stint living in Dorset, John returned to Manchester and started reading his poems in clubs.
By 1976 and the arrival of punk, he was initially the support act for many seminal punk bands such as the Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, The Fall, Joy Division, Elvis Costello and Siouxsie and the Banshees, to name but a few; His biting, satirical, political and very funny verse delivered in a rapid-fire performance style. Before long, John was headlining his own gigs and drawing huge crowds of fans. John had an striking visual appearance; tall and thin with a mess of black hair, black sunglasses, drainpipe trousers and cuban-heeled boots. He was dubbed “The Bard of Salford” and given the moniker “punk poet”. During those heady days, John recorded four studio albums, and released two live LPs. He also had limited success with the release a few singles, but it was the live arena where John found the greatest success and acclaim.
As punk began to wane in the early 1980’s, John’s star seemed to fade a bit also. He found himself with a personal battle on his hands as he struggled with a serious heroin addiction, which he eventually kicked in the early 90’s. During this time, he met his current partner, Evie, who is also mum to John’s daughter, Stella, born in 1994.
Since the punk days, he has been recognised as one of England’s most important poets and performers. Despite this, he shuns publicity and interviews, as he hates talking about himself. He has said, however, that he enjoys performing now more than he ever used to, having more confidence and stability in his life.
As a result of the current popularity of the 70’s punk phenomenon, John has been seen and heard more in the media over the last few years than in the last few decades. Sky TV recently dedicated an entire night’s programming to John, the Culture Show on BBC interviewed him for a special feature, and he made a brief cameo as his younger self in the Ian Curtis biopic, “Control”.
John now lives with his family in Colchester, and, unwilling to rest on the laurels of times past, continues to write new, vital poetry, and regularly perform live all over the country.
“Consistently boasting the most interesting line ups in the country”The Times