Now sadly perhaps best known for his extra-curricular activities with kiddies, former TV presenter and newspaper columnist Jonathan King (real name Kenneth King) was once a one-man pop industry in the UK.
It began in 1965 when, as a 19-year old Cambridge undergraduate, he wrote and recorded Everyone’s Gone To The Moon, #4 in the UK and 17 in the US.
Three months later, he wrote and produced a similarly transatlantic hit in It’s Good News Week by Hedgehoppers Anonymous, a group of young Royal Air Forcemen.
Two years later, after a spell of music journalism and a minor US hit with Where The Sun Has Never Shone, he produced The Silent Sun, the debut single from Genesis (King had been at Charterhouse School with the group’s founder members) and hosted a music chat show on UK television.
Undeterred by critics of his music, King returned to recording in 1970 with the UK Top 30 hit Let It All Hang Out, and even by his own hyperactive standards, the next year was particularly full.
In February, calling himself The Weathermen, he reached the UK Top 20 with a cover of It’s The Same Old Song. He repeated this success in May as Sakkarin with a heavy metal version of The Archies‘ Sugar Sugar – his po-faced treatment of such a silly song was, apparently, a statement of enormous irony.
Next month, he had a hit under his own name with Lazybones, and in July he produced that popular sing-a-long of the day Leap Up and Down (Wave Your Knickers In The Air) for St Cecelia.
In December, King was in the British charts twice – once as himself with Hooked On A Feeling, and also at #3 as the creative force behind The Piglets’ Johnny Reggae, a cod-Caribbean knees-up featuring TV actress Adrienne Posta on chirpy cockney lead vocals.
At the same time as all this, in September he produced Keep On Dancing for then-unknown Scottish group The Bay City Rollers. It got to #9 and was their only hit until Rollermania struck in earnest three years later.
Although Jonathan King continued to have deliberately daft hits under questionable pseudonyms – One Hundred Ton & A Feather Shag, Athlete’s Foot, Bubblerock, Father Abraphart and so on – when he started his own label in 1972 (UK Records) his roster possessed considerable credibility – among others, 10cc, The Kursaal Flyers and Kevin Johnson.
1978 found King standing as a Royalist candidate in a British parliamentary election. He did not win but polled several thousand votes.
In the mid-80’s, seemingly disillusioned with the metal scene, King assembled some of the top players of the day to rectify the situation.
He assembled a ‘supergroup’ comprising former Iron Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno, guitarists Janick Gers (ex-Gillan) and Pete Willis (ex-Def Leppard), Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray, and former Maiden drummer Clive Burr, naming the outfit Gogmagog.
Unable to secure funding or a record deal, King dropped the project and the band members all went their separate ways.
Three tracks (I Will Be There, Living In A Fucking Time-Warp and It’s Illegal) eventually snuck out – without the intended fanfare – on a 1985 EP.