Jilted John – Jilted John

5th September 2022 · 1970s, 1978, Music, Punk

Novelty records. They’re nearly always awful, aren’t they – Grandad, Ernie, Shadap Your Face. Agadoo, Gimme Dat Ding. Jilted John was different.

It was a piss-take of punk – of the simplicity of the music, and the lyrics, and the languid singing in a strong estuary accent.

The idea was simple too: the gormless narrator (John) has been jilted by his girlfriend (Julie) for a richer and better looking bloke (Gordon).

Hence the singalong refrain: “Gordon is a moron.”

Somehow it achieved the tricky feat of being a parody of punk that appealed to punks as much as anyone else.

Well it did to me, and to enough other people to get to No.4 in the singles chart.

‘Jilted John’ was of course a pseudonym: the alter ego of Manchester drama student Graham Fellows, who took his demo to the local punk label Rabid.

The demo was made with Colin Goddard of Walter & The Softies (guitar), Mike Doherty (drums) and Ian Morris (bass) from another local punk group, The Smirks.

Rabid put him in the studio to re-record it with John Scott on guitar and bass, produced by Martin Zero (aka Martin Hannett).

Jilted John was a bona-fide one-hit wonder, though I do have his, ahem, concept album True Love Stories in my collection; possibly unplayed more than once.

Fellows went back to acting afterwards, appearing in Coronation Street and Heartbeat, and playing Paul McCartney in a stage playl called Lennon.

He also created another musical alter-ego, John Shuttleworth, a nerdy crooner from Sheffield who performed with a cheap keyboard.

That spawned an excellent mockumentary about his predictably unsuccessful attempt to get one of his songs, Pigeons In Flight, selected as the UK entry for Eurovision.

Since then, Fellows has occasionally revived his Jilted John character at festivals. And here’s a piece of pointless trivia: his sister is married to TV chef Ainsley Harriott.