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Dr John Cooper Clarke

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The original “punk poet,” John Cooper Clarke is an English performance poet who first became famous during the punk rock era of the late 1970s when he released several albums and who continues to perform regularly. In 1979 he had his only UK top 40 hit with “Gimmix! (Play Loud)” and he has toured with punk and reggae legends including Linton Kwesi Johnson, the Sex Pistols, the Fall, Joy Division, the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Elvis Costello, Rockpile and New Order (including at their May 1984 Music for Miners benefit concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall). His set is characterised by lively, rapid-fire renditions of his poems, usually performed a cappella. Often referred to as “the bard of Salford”, he usually refers to himself on stage as “Johnny Clarke, the name behind the hairstyle”.

In July 2013, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of arts in “acknowledgement of a career which has spanned five decades, bringing poetry to non-traditional audiences and influencing musicians and comedians” by the University of Salford. Upon receipt, he typically commented, “now I’m a doctor, finally my dream of opening a cosmetic surgery business can become a reality.” His numerous TV work has included voicing a poem about how eating chips makes people happy for a TV ad for McCain Oven Chips. A genuinely exciting performer.

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