with JOHN HYATT of

Photo by Chris Payne

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s second guest is a musician, artist, activist, author and academic. He’s one of the Three Johns (in fact the singer), cult 80s post punk Death To Trad Rock era band, formed in Leeds, just before the wedding of Charles & Diana in 1981 and infamously refused entry to their first gig “Funk The Wedding” ‘cos they were too drunk. With a socio-political edge, they appropriated a Mekons tune (from one of the other Johns – Mekon Jon Langford) about apartheid and featured the Saatchi/Tory bating tagline “Rock & Roll Vs Thaatchiism” on the cover of their debut album “Atom Drum Bop”.

They were also benefit gigs regulars including supporting the miners and at the GLC “Jobs For A Change” festival. The band recorded six sessions for John Peel and their song “Death of a European” was in the Festive Fifty in 1985 despite suffering from low airplay due to unfortunate coincidence of the title and the Heysel Stadium tragedy. The Three Johns split in 1988 and have since reformed a couple of times and this fella continued pursuing his career in academia (during the Three Johns he maintained his job as a teacher of fine art at Leeds University). He’s literally a punk rock professor, being made so officially in 1994 at Manchester Metropolitan University.

He’s now got a show that combines his three interests of art, music and learning at HOME in Manchester, called “Rock Art”, and I’m chuffed to get him on Velvet Sheep, it’s the awesome John Hyatt!

I asked John for more deets of what he’s up to, and some pics and he furnished me as follows:

Photo by Chris Payne

“They are from the opening of my show JOHN HYATT: ROCK ART at HOME, Manchester. This runs until March 29th and includes a new album, especially made for the show, of collaborations (including two new Three Johns tracks) purchasable at the exhibition from my shop I have built, the ROCK SHOP.
Maybe see you down at Club BIG, the club that I have built in the gallery. Please plug that too. Open every Friday until 21st March 6 – 9. Fresh new acts, like my son Tom Hyatt (who has a live album coming out at the end of the month (check him out, he’s good, at

 and quality performances each week, entrance free.”

Photo by Chris Payne

For a studious punk, I was intrigued to find out John’s choice of a “song for ewe”, so without further ado…

“There is something about this track – this piece of music – that is magical. I could say that I have listened to it here or there, from an attic in Wolverhampton to a beach in Mauritius, but that is completely irrelevant.

It reminds me of nothing and nowhere. It does not even remind me of itself – it is completely new every time I hear it. It certainly does not remind me of me. It is a beautiful musical machine that transports me gently to nowhere.

It is an out of body experience that is also an out of mind experience. It has nothing that can be removed and nothing that can be added. For me, it is one of the closest humans have come to perfection – vulnerable, delicate and fleeting.”


Artist John Hyatt on Rock Art and Club Big