Biography

Poet; Movie star; Rock star; TV & radio presenter; Comedian; Social & 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’.

Since then his career has spanned cultures, audiences, art forms and continents.

Today, JCC is as relevant and vibrant as ever, and his influence just as visible on 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 is huge. 

His influence can be heard within the keen social observations of the Arctic Monkeys and Plan B. These collaborations mean that John has been involved in 2 global number 1 albums in the last 2 years - with The Arctic Monkeys putting one of John's best loved poems, I Wanna Be Yours, to music on their critically acclaimed A:M Album 

His latest show, touring across the UK and Europe this year, 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.

"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

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."

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.”

 

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."

"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

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!”

 

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!

 

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.