Johnny Stafford
Johnny Stafford

Music, comedy, and a unique audience participation routine, mark the performances of top musical entertainer Johnny Stafford.
Johnny received a harmonica as a Christmas gift at the age of 14, and, inspired by the star entertainers of the day,set his sights firmly on a career in show business.
In fact in later years, Johnny was signed up by EMI, the same company as Larry Adler, and had his albums side by side with his in the record stores, having risen to the elite few harmonica virtuosi of the day.

As a boy, Johnny was unable to find anyone to teach him the harmonica, so he leamed from books and records, and eventually attended the Manchester Royal College of Music to study theory and harmony and also played in the students concerts there.

During this time he would also wait outside the stage doors of the local variety theatres in Manchester, to get the autographs of the visiting harmonica stars of the day, including "Morton Fraser s Harmonica Gang," with whom four years later he became their star player after being discovered on the radio in the "Carroll Levis Talent Show."

The 3 years with Morton Fraser were invaluable in the development of Johnny Stafford as a musician and entertainer, and of his own admission he wouldn't have made it on his own without this wonderful experience. However made it on his own he did in no uncertain terms.

Although a number years of hard work were involved, an early break came in the form of a recording for Decca. The legendary composer Lional Bart was looking for a harmonica player to record a number he had written for a James Booth/ Barbara Windsor film called "Sparrows Can't Sing. Johnny, having got word of this, rushed down to London overnight from his home town Manchester, to try to get the recording contract, which he did. Although the record wasn't a hit, it paved the way for engagements to gradually start coming in.

Johnny started to make his name on B.B.C. radio in variety shows such as "Blackpool Night," "The Ken Dodd Show, "Variety Club" etc., whilst also appearing in theatre and in the growing number of Vegas style night clubs throughout the U.K.

However, the golden days of radio were coming to an end, as television had long since taken over. Johnny Stafford's big TV break came when he was invited to appear on a brand new television show for new up and coming talent called "New Faces," a show which went out on a peak viewing period on Saturday nights, and was a 'hit show. A number of appearances on this show plus a summer season in the live version of the show, and all the attendant publicity, made Johnny into well known name at this time.

The television appearances led to a season at the London "Showboat in the Strand," as well as appearances in fashionable theatre clubs and number one summer shows in the U.K. During these years Johnny appeared alongside many major names such as Count Basie and his Orchestra, Sacha Distel, Stephane Grappelli, Chuck Berry, Tom Jones, Norman Wisdom, Bemie Clifton, and Matt Monro, with whom he toured extensively overseas.

There were more TV recordings on Russ Abbots' "Variety Madhouse," and on the Granada series "The Video Entertainers," and on the popular B.B.C. radio series "Variety Club."

Johnny Stafford then returned successfully to recording, and had an EMI album "20 Harmonica Greats" released in the U.K. followed by "Encore" and "Classical Favourites" (Sound Impressions) and was also special guest on an album with popular singer Tony Christie called "Country Love" for RCA.

By the early 1990's, work for entertainers had moved from the theatres and cabaret clubs to the luxury cruise ships. This medium proved to be ideal for Johnny's talents, and he was very much in demand, so much so that he based himself in the USA for a while, from where he joined various ships in the lucrative American market, from the famous TV 'Love Boat' ships to the QE 2, and many more.

However, having established himself on the cruise circuit, Johnny found that he was then able to retum to his home country from where he could occasionally travel to the cruise ships and at the same time not lose his hard earned career in the U.K.

Since his recent return, he has started to do shows in various theatres, and also to do a little work on the classical side, having recently appeared in concert with concert pianist Robin Colvill, and harpist Camilla Pay. There are also plans for a return to recording, and also some more appearances on special music cruises for U.K. based Fred Olsen Line; Johnny has just completed one such cruise in which he was booked as a cabaret performer, but also doing cross over appearances in the ships classical concerts. Recent appearances have also included a guest spot on B.B.C. radio`s popular "Bernie Clifton Show."

During 2011, Johnny performed in top theatres in the UK, which included, "The Spring Theatre", Havant, - "Alexandra Theatre", Bognor Regis, - "Pier Theatre", Bournemouth, - "Cornerstone Arts Centre", Didcot, - "Corn Exchange", Stamford, - "Pomegranate Theatre", Chesterfield, - "Leiston Film Theatre", - "Pavilion Theatre", Rhyl, amongst others.

Also during 2011 and 2012, johnny toured the uk with a variety revival show called `twice brightly`, and in 2013 had a big show at the famous Fairfield Hall in Croydon called `Comedy in Music`.

2014 and 2015 brought uk tours with anita harris and various artists in top uk theatres and concert halls, and in 2016 Johnny made news by becoming the first harmonica player since Larry Adler in 1935 to perform on Cunard`s `Queen Mary`. Larry performed on the maiden voyage of the original ship.

Johnny`s harmonica playing was featured on the bbc programme `The Real Tom Thumb` during 2016 and 2017, when he was lead player with the Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang. He was playing lead harmonica on their version of `Peanut Vendor` which is also on youtube.

In 2018 Johnny performed on Cunard`s `Queen Victoria` cruise ship in South America.

Johnny's latest CD is available now!

1. The Way You Look Tonight
2. Come Fly with Me
3. Begin the Beguine
4. Moon River
5. Moonglow
6. Sway
7. Someone to Watch Over Me
8. De Lovely
9. What a Wonderful World
10. It Had To Be You
11. Stardust
12. Moondance

Musical Arangements: Steve Warburton
Recording & Sleeve Design: S J Music

The Way You Look Tonight - Johnny Stafford
Copyright Sophisticat SJ1003
Recorded 2006

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