John Cameron (born 20 March 1944, Woodford, Essex, England) is a British composer, arranger, conductor and musician. He is well known for his many film, TV and stage credits, and for his contributions to “pop” recordings, notably those by Donovan, Cilla Black and the group Hot Chocolate. Cameron’s instrumental version of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, became a hit for his group Collective Consciousness Society and, for many years, a version of Cameron’s arrangement was used as the theme music for the BBC TV show, Top of the Pops.
Cameron’s career in music began at Cambridge University, where he was Vice-President of the Cambridge Footlights comedy club and performed on the local jazz scene. After leaving Cambridge, Cameron began working as an arranger for folk-pop artist Donovan; his credits include Donovan’s number-1 U.S. hit “Sunshine Superman” (co-arranged with Spike Heatley). He became Donovan’s music director, touring with him and arranging hit singles “Jennifer Juniper” and “Epistle to Dippy”, the albums Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow, as well as Donovan’s music for the 1967 Ken Loach film Poor Cow.
Cameron also began working in television; one of his first major credits in this area was as music director and arranger for three seasons of the TV variety series Once More with Felix with folk-singer Julie Felix (1967–69), The Bobbie Gentry Show and numerous episodes of the BBC’s In Concert series (directed by Stanley Dorfman), which featured artists including James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman.
John Cameron with Donovan
Cameron also scored two British hits as a songwriter with “If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind”, a #20 UK hit for Cilla Black (which was also a #11 UK hit for former ABBA vocalist Agnetha Fältskog in 2004) and “Sweet Inspiration”, a Top 10 single for Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon.
Cameron’s first venture in film composition was for director Ken Loach, who asked him to compose the score for Kes (1969). This led to further commissions, including The Ruling Class (1972) with Peter O’Toole, Night Watch (1973) with Elizabeth Taylor, and A Touch of Class (1973) with Glenda Jackson and George Segal, for which Cameron was nominated for an Academy Award. His other film scores included The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970) and the cult horror film Psychomania (1973), among many others.
In the early 1970s Cameron formed Collective Consciousness Society (C.C.S.), a jazz-funk group that included Cameron, Mickie Most, Alexis Korner and Herbie Flowers; they scored four UK hits—an instrumental version of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” (UK #13), a version of which was also used as the theme music for Top of the Pops from 1971 to 1981; the Donovan songs “Walkin'” (UK #7); and “Tap Turns On The Water” (UK #5) and “Brother” (UK #25), both written by Cameron and Korner.
Cameron had further success as pop arranger with UK soul-funk band Hot Chocolate, working on all their hit singles “Emma”, “Heaven Is In The Back Seat Of My Cadillac”, “You Sexy Thing” and “Every One’s A Winner”. Similarly, John worked as arranger with Heatwave on three albums, including the singles “Boogie Nights”, “Always and Forever”, “The Groove Line” and “Gangsters of the Groove”.
In the late 1970s, Cameron was approached by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg to arrange and conduct a concept album based on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Initially staged in Paris by Robert Hossein, it was then produced in the UK by Cameron Mackintosh and the Royal Shakespeare Company, directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Les Misérables became one of the most successful musicals of all time, winning Cameron the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestrations and a National Broadway Theatre Award. He also orchestrated the 1991 London Palladium revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Honk! and Spend Spend Spend.
Cameron’s numerous TV credits include The Protectors television series, the Emmy Award-winning TV miniseries Jack the Ripper (starring Michael Caine), Disney’s Little House on the Prairie, To End All Wars and The Path to 9/11, for which Cameron was nominated for an Emmy award.
Cameron has also worked with artists such as José Carreras and the Choir of New College Oxford and Swedish baritone Carry Persson.
The song “Paper Habits” by Jet Life (Currensy’s rap group), samples Cameron’s “Liquid Sunshine”, and is from the group’s collaboration album Jet World Order (2011).
And this is his rare solo-album from 1969 (even not mentioned in the wikipedia articel !)
I bought the Vinyl Album of this iconic recording, back when first issued in 1969. Having such a eclectic liking for ALL kinds of music, but not fanatical for any particular type or style. I was going through a period when, excluding anything from my own extreme limits, was not an option. I had enjoyed all kinds of Jazz, from early New Orleans to Charlie Parker–and all the British bands during the ‘Trad Jazz’ period, of the late 50’s to mid 60’s, John Cameron’s unique musical interpretations were a revelation to me, which opened up new visions and imagery, which is what music is supposed to do. The Jazz fan reader, may be disappointed by my lack of ability to describe any technicalities here; all I can say is that it really is a case of hear it and judge for yourselves. These tracks are available for hearing on You tube–should you wish. Finally, by reading the very good and full background to John Cameron’s extended career, and the mystery as to why, he didn’t record a follow-up to this unique work (by P. G. Croft)
Single A + B side
John Cameron (piano)
Tony Carr (percussion)
Harold McNair (flute, saxophone)
Danny Thompson (bass)
01. Off Centre (Cameron) 9.08
02. Go Away, Come Back Another Day (Cameron) 5.13
03. Dafina Querida (Cameron/Thompson) 6.19
04. Omah Cheyenne (Cameron) 7.14
05. Wenceslas Square (Cameron) 3.16
06. Splat (Cameron) 5.10
07. Troublemaker (Cameron) 3.16