Biography

Poet; Rock Star; TV & Radio Presenter; Comedian; Cultural commentator


"I say to people, have you heard of John Cooper Clarke and if they say, yes, yeah he's an absolute genius and you just go, 'oh - ok, you've saved me a lot of time" Steve Coogan

John Cooper Clarke shot to prominence in the 1970s as the original ‘people’s poet’.
His unique poetry and delivery style was recorded and put to music by legendary producer
Martin Hannett and a band of Mancunian stars, including Buzzcocks Peter Shelley and The
Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly, masquerading as The Invisible Girls.

Seminal tracks such as Beasley St and Evidently Chickentown featured on the hit album Snap
Crackle and Bop, one of 4 big selling original album releases in the late 70s and early 80s. They established John as one of the most prolific artists of the Punk years. The albums were big sellers worldwide and firmly placed John as a major talent. In 2015 Sony honoured JCC with a Book set, Anthologia, a CD and DVD collection of his entire live and recorded history, with tributes from amongst others Sir Paul McCartney and Kate Moss.

JCC’s early live shows were renowned occasions. He headlined gigs with support from many soon to be superstars, including Joy Division, New Order and Duran Duran. He himself featured as special guest on many shows by the Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks and The Clash, as well as carving his own unique niche as a stand up poet.

His first poetry collection 10 Years in An Open Necked Shirt came out in the early 80s on
Random House, featuring the lyrics to classic tracks from his albums and more original material. It is one of the biggest selling poetry books ever in the UK, Canada and Australasia.

Since then his career has spanned cultures, audiences, art forms and continents.
These days he performs purely as a stand up solo poet. His unique poetry show has been
running in theatres and festivals worldwide for over 15 years.

John's 2018 poetry collection The Luckiest Guy Alive (Picador/Macmillan). Features 30 new
poems, including live favourites such as; I've Fallen In Love With My Wife, Beasley Boulevard
and Get Back on Drugs you Fat F*ck.

Dr John Cooper Clarke's long awaited 2019 autobiography, named after his most famous poem I Wanna Be Yours, published in Hardback by Macmillan, is a groundbreaking piece of
literature. JCC goes into fascinating detail about his early life in Manchester leading up to punk superstardom, drug addiction and then the massive comeback as major poet he enjoys today. It will soon be reprinted for the 4th time and a soon to come paperback edition will see sales soaring again.

JCC is as relevant and vibrant as ever and his influence is just as visible in today's pop culture. Aside from his trademark ‘look’ continuing to resonate with fashionistas young and old, and his poetry included on national curriculum syllabus, his effect on modern music has been huge. His influence can be heard within the keen social observations of the Arctic Monkeys, amongst many others. The Monkeys put the lyrics to Johns I Wanna Be Yours to their own music, on their worldwide smash, the genius A:M. JCC's collaboration with Plan B, Ill Manors spawned a best selling soundtrack album and a hard hitting movie.The list of people who cite him as a major influence is endless.

John's track, Evidently Chickentown, was used as the soundtrack over the credits of the
penultimate episode of the hit TV show, and best selling ever DVD box set worldwide The
Sopranos. He continues to feature on many British TV shows, with frequent appearances on 8
out of 10 Cats, Would I Lie To You, Pointless Celebs and Have I Got News For You, being
particularly well received. Alongside his frequent BBC 6 Music shows they have opened up a
whole new audience for him.

John’s own film company produced the hilarious documentary EVIDENTLY JOHN COOPER CLARKE which records and celebrates his life as a poet, revealing his significant influence on contemporaryculture over four decades. With a bevy of household names including Bill Bailey, Plan B, Steve Coogan,Kate Nash, Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner and cultural commentators Miranda Sawyer and Paul Morley, the film “Exposes the life behind one of Britain's sharpest and most witty poets”. It was shown on The BBC many times and is still available on Johns online shop as a DVD.

His other film and TV shows include appearing as himself in the Joy Division Biopic Control,
presenting a documentary on Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater in the BBC's second series of The Secret Life of Books.

In July 2019 John was the well received guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. A fan of
the show for 60 years, he described it as having "all the finality of a suicide note, without the
actual obligation of topping yourself". His book choice was Against Nature by Joris-Karl
Huysmans, his luxury item was a boulder of opium twice the size of his head and his favourite
track was "How Great Thou Art" by Elvis Presley. John was recently a participant in BBC's
Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.

In July 2013, John was awarded an honorary doctorate of arts by Salford Uni, in
"acknowledgement of a career which has spanned five decades, bringing poetry to
non-traditional audiences and influencing musicians and comedians." Upon receipt, Dr JCC
commented: "Now I'm a doctor, finally my dream of opening a cosmetic surgery business can
become a reality."

His latest live show, touring across the UK, Europe, USA, Canada & Australasia, is a mix of
classic verse, extraordinary new material, hilarious ponderings on modern life, good honest
gags, riffs and chat - a chance to witness a living legend at the top of this game.

 Website: www.johncooperclarke.com/

Facebook: facebook.com/johncooperclarke

Twitter: @offical_jcc

"John Cooper Clarke uses words like Chuck Berry uses guitar riffs melody and anger, humour and disdain in equal measure. He's the real deal, really funny and really caustic, the velvet voice of discontent." Kate Moss

Sir Paul McCartney

John Cooper Clarke is one of Britain’s outstanding poets.  His anarchic punk poetry has thrilled people for decades and his no nonsense approach to his work and life in general has appealed to many people including myself for many years.  Long may his slender frame and spiky top produce words and deeds that keep us on our toes and alive to the wonders of the world.  Keep rockin’ John!

 

Alex Turner

"My first encounter with Dr Clarke was when he visited Sheffield as the opening act for The Fall many years ago. I’d recently got a band together and started writing songs, but I was still very much working behind the bar that evening. When I think about it now I'm faced with the image of myself casting a spellbound glance stage-ward on my tiptoes during John's performance, while trying to simultaneously pull a pint into a pot that, as a result of my distraction, has long since overflowed. After I'd dried the ale off my hands I began to reassess my own approach to writing words, inspired by what I'd seen.

I witnessed a true artist that night. I was captivated by his character and his ability to draw colourful and evocative language out of what might widely be considered unlikely corners. That figure in the distance behind the microphone brandishing his plastic carrier bag of notebooks was, and still is, nothing short of dazzling.”

Peter Hook

“John was an inspiration to me. Standing alone in front of those hostile audiences who were so full of anger and hate. Then calming then with his wonderful words, it was awe inspiring. I was amazed that someone could take control of those situations. I was very proud of him and of his Salford roots. The one I loved the most was 'The Bronze Adonis Got Her', it seemed to be the story of my life. John is a true survivor. Even after a nuclear war it'll be him and the cockroaches....I should be so bloody lucky!” 

 

Topper Headon (The Clash)

When I first saw John Cooper Clarke as support to The Clash, my two overwhelming impressions were God! He’s skinny, and, fucking hell! He’s brave. To appear in front of a Clash audience could be a terrifying experience and that was from behind the protection of a drum kit!  To stand alone with just a microphone reading poetry took some courage and conviction. John's poetry always has been funny, original, political and cutting. It's great to see him back where he belongs.

I'm a fan and a friend.

"I am J.C.C.'s gentleman travellin' companion. In the motor, he is a ranting orator. At the table, he is a discerning and reflective gourmet. In the hotel room, he is an hilarious and speculative philosopher. In front of the mirror, he is pure dandy. On stage, he's dynamite." Johnny Green

Phil Jupitus

"In the summer of 1981 Siouxsie and the Banshees were playing at Chelmsford Odeon. Gigs in Essex were sparse, so this was a must see event. I didn't even look at who the support was. When the angular, be-suited John Cooper Clarke wandered out into the spotlight I was elated. This was more than poems, it was comedy, new and arcane words, stories, street wisdom all spewing out of this man and his notebook. It was a direct challenge to the audience to pay attention to something, and bless them, they did. A little over thirty years later I got to support him. It was worth the wait."

 

Plan B (Ben Drew)

"Weirdly it was American crime drama series The Sopranos that introduced me late to England's alternative poet laureate. Towards the end of the final series, in an inspired bit of music placement in television, I heard John's "Chickentown". It grabbed me, leapt straight out of the TV demanding my attention. Here’s this Northerner with a distinctive Manchester accent making what’s effectively a hip-hop record. It was hard enough to get airplay in London if you didn't have the right accent so I thought to myself regardless of how good it obviously is 'how the hell did a Northern rapper manage to get his song played in The Sopranos?'
I typed the lyrics into Google and found the video on Youtube. It was the one shot from inside of a moving train looking out at a grey and dreary city landscape. I couldn't believe it was recorded in the late 70's... This was like listening to the first grime record ever recorded, yet it still sounded fresh and relevant. 

By chance I had the opportunity to do a gig with John at the George Pub in Stepney. I was doing a photo shoot there and the landlady and I were having a conversation and John came up. He was scheduled to perform at the pub and she offered me the chance to perform with him. We done the gig together and swapped numbers afterwards and it transpired that John and my godfather Keef Coggins (aka Kirby from Ill Manors) who was at the gig with me, had met each other many years before. We kept in touch after that and I warned John that I would be calling on his services at some point for a film I was trying to get made. John said he'd be delighted to appear in it and so sometime later, when I finally got the green light to shoot the Ill Manors film, I asked John to write something for the soundtrack. That's when he created Pity The Plight. I gave John the scenes in the film that his music now accompanies and he based what he wrote on them. It was an absolute pleasure filming John. I will always regard us working together as one of the coolest collaborations of my career and one I'm most proud of. When we launched the album and the film John came down to London to play it live with us, which was yet another magic moment for me. For someone like myself to have had the chance to work with a legend such as John is rare and for him to turn out to be a lovely human being on top of that is even rarer. 

Whether you're discovering John Cooper Clarke late like I did,or have been a fan from the beginning, this box set is a timeless tribute to a unique uncompromising talent."