Born on 19th November 1944 in Surbiton, John took up drumming during his school days and played in the almost obligatory school band. In 1963 he formed Lester Square and the G.T's and for the next two years toured Britain and Germany playing straight R & B music. After a short spell on the Kingston and Surbiton Borough News, during which time he met Thump, John formed the five-piece John Dummer Blues Band and with them made 5 albums. After the third LP, however, the band drifted apart and it was only on learning that a song taken from that third album, "Nine By Nine" was No. 1 in France, that the group reformed for promotional reasons. The band recorded two more LPs for Philips, going on to make another one (their sixth) which the company rejected. At this point John left the group and went to MCA as Promotion Manager for three years followed by a similar post at Electra for a year. From Electra he joined A & M and it was during his time there (he left in early 1977) that he began playing with DARTS.
The backbone of the
Darts rhythm section, John was also responsible for penning 'Can't
Get Enough Of Your Love', 'How Many Nights' and the truly wonderful
'Late Last Night'.
John left Darts in 1980 and immediately afterwards formed a group with his wife, Helen, called True Life Confessions. John continues..."We had two Afro-French girl singers, and two drummers (me and Esso from the seminal punk group The Lurkers). Harry Kakouli (ex-Squeeze) was our bass player and one of our guitarists was Mark Nevin who later went on to have a number one hit with his own song 'It's Got To Be Perfect' with Fairground Attraction. We played a lot round London mainly and had several records out on the A & M label, none of which made the charts. Helen and I had a number 50 hit though as John Dummer and Helen April with our whistling and walking version of 'Blues Skies' and a lot of airplay with something called 'Own Up If You're Over 25.'
"After True Life Confessions I went on to manage The Screaming Blue Messiahs who had chart albums and were successful touring Europe and the States. After three years of that I was pretty exhausted and, on a whim, Helen and I decided to sell up our ancient grinding mill house in West Sussex and move to France. We went to the Dordogne (where else) and after two years of restoring a Chatreuse near a place called Sarlat we sold up again and bought a windmill in the Alentejo region of Portugal. This was fun. High up on a hill overlooking miles of empty countryside with the sea far in the distance. We had to sink our own well for water, and electricity was provided by solar panels. After a couple of years of working on the house and mill we decided to move back to the comparatively civilised area of France". (John, Helen, their dog and several cats now live in a three-hundred-year-old cottage in the French countryside in South West France).
"I started a group, Screwy Truants, with some young French musicians and we toured around playing fêtes and festivals. I also recorded and sang and played harmonica in a duo with the French guitarist and singer Jean-Claude Manuel, and drummed with the harmonica player and blues singer Nico Toussaint".
"Now I work mostly at weekends as an antiques trader in the 'brocante' markets, which take place in small towns and villages throughout France. During the week I restore furniture and write. I've just finished a first novel and am halfway through a second. I get back to England regularly for buying trips and to meet up with friends and family."