‘I’ve had more UK hit singles than Led Zeppelin’: John Otway announces Australian tour

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‘I’ve had more UK hit singles than Led Zeppelin’: John Otway announces Australian tour

John Otway tour
Words by Staff Writer

The ever-eccentric showman, Otway, armed only with his guitar and theremin, will perform shows in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Fremantle this November.

Signed by Polydor at the height of punk, and joining The Jam, Sham 69, Stiff Little Fingers, and The Cure on vinyl and in the record racks, John Otway’s plans to fly a jet full of fans to witness him perform at the Sydney Opera House never quite eventuated, but 50 years into his career Otway is thrilled to announce his debut Australian tour.

John Otway tour

  • Brisbane – Tuesday 14th November – Faith Nightclub,
  • Melbourne – Wednesday 15th November – Memo Music Hall
  • Sydney – Thursday 16th November – The Vanguard
  • Perth – Friday 17th November – Charles Hotel
  • Fremantle – Saturday 18th November – Mojos

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Said Otway upon confirmation of the run of concerts, “I’ve had more UK hit singles than Led Zeppelin, performed more than five times the number of gigs the Beatles managed, appeared at Glastonbury more times than Beyonce, and starred in more lemonade commercials than Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift put together. And now I’ll be performing at Memo Music Hall, The Vanguard, Faith Nightclub, The Charles Hotel, and Mojos – venues that David Bowie notably never managed to play. I’ve now discovered there are quite a few fans down under, and their reaction is ‘IT’S ABOUT TIME!!’  So I’m REALLY looking forward to these shows!”

John Otway’s dubious achievements include

  • Otway’s “Cor Baby That’s Really Free” was a UK Christmas Hit in 1977.
  • Pete Townshend produced four tracks on Otway’s first album (with Wild Willy Barrett).
  • Otway has performed over 5000 shows including a sold-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
  • Otway’s song Beware Of The Flowers Cos I’m Sure They’re Going To Get You Yeh! was voted the 7th Favourite Lyric in a nationwide BBC Poll ahead of anything written by Bob Dylan or Paul Simon.
  • Otway appeared in The Young Ones’ episode Summer Holiday.
  • 25 years after his first Otway had a second hit with “Bunsen Burner” when loyal fans bought enough copies to have the single chart in the UK top ten.
  • Otway the Movie: The Story of Rock n Roll’s Greatest Failure was voted 2nd best film of 2012 in a Guardian newspaper readers poll beaten only by Gravity.

From the age of 9, John Otway knew he wanted to be a pop star. But even at that young age, having listened to his sister’s Beatles and Stones records, he knew he would never be able to do what they do. However, when his sister got the latest Bob Dylan album, he knew there was a place for him and he set about learning how to play guitar.

Otway had to wait until 1977 and the rise of punk before his dream of fame and fortune would finally become a reality. Having caught the eye of the producers of the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test, Otway’s performance on that show would grab the attention of the watching audience. Otway, ever the showman, decided to jump on to the amplifier of his colleague during a performance of Bob Lind’s Cheryl’s Going Home. (Un)fortunately for Otway, he misjudged his leap and sent Wild Willy Barrett’s amplifier tumbling as he crashed down straddling the box under the amp.

The full force of the impact was absorbed by the most tender part of his body, but in doing this one simple act of recklessness and his wanton disregard for his own safety, Otway was the talk of everyone who watched that evening’s programme.

Not only did he see a surge in his audiences, sales of Otway’s sixth single, the half-spoken love song Really Free increased dramatically and reached number 27 in the UK Singles Chart. An appearance on the BBC’s flagship music programme Top of the Pops, where Otway & Barrett were introduced by Elton John later, Otway was finally a star. It would however, be his greatest success for some time.

Despite numerous attempts to get back into the charts, Otway would have to wait 25 years for his next taste of chart success. In the intervening years, Otway would become an actor; write an autobiography (Cor Baby That’s Really Me: Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure); perform sold out shows at London’s Astoria and Royal Albert Hall; make regular appearances at both Glastonbury and Edinburgh Festivals; and write the nation’s seventh favourite lyric of all-time (“Beware Of The Flowers Cause I’m Sure They’re Going To Get You Yeah” beating Bob Dylan and Paul Simon in the process).

In 2002, Otway achieved what he desired the most – a second hit. A concerted publicity campaign saw Otway reach number 9 with the disco pastiche Bunsen Burner and a second appearance on Top of the Pops. Despite this success, a planned world tour collapsed, but Otway continued to gig extensively around the UK either with his band, as a duo with Wild Willy Barrett or solo. A follow-up autobiography was penned in 2010 and titled: I Did It Otway: Regrets I’ve Had a Few.

To celebrate his 60th birthday in 2012, Otway produced his debut movie titled Otway the Movie: The Story of Rock n Roll’s Greatest Failure. A screening for producers was held at London’s Leicester Square with the final scenes from the movie filmed on the red carpet and edited into the film as the audience were watching. The film was then taken to Cannes Film Festival and a 50-date tour of cinemas in both the UK and North America. It was subsequently voted the 2nd best film of the year in a poll of its readers conducted by The Guardian newspaper.

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Otway took his band to the Caribbean island of Montserrat to record a new album. The album would be the first to be recorded on the island by an international artist since The Rolling Stones recorded Steel Wheels in 1989. Produced by Grammy-award winner Chris Birkett and recorded at Olveston House – the former home of Sir George Martin, it was released to critical acclaim in May 2017.

Tickets on sale now from www.davidroywilliams.com.