|The history of John's Children
|This first part of the band's history concerning the early pre John's Children days was written by Andy Ellison:
The very beginnings of the group The Silence, began when Chris Townson and myself first met at a mixed Boarding School, nestling in the North Downs, near Box Hill, Surrey. This was an outward bound school, that means, only lessons in the morning, and then expedition training in the afternoons and other strange activities to enhance one's... self. Here it was that we both learnt how to be even naughtier than we already were, and it was also here one night, in our sparse dormitory, that we wrote our first song... on a banjo (no really), titled, "Hey Little Anaconda, Won't You Play With Me"!
Having left this outward bound boarding school life, in the year 1963, I managed to blag my way into being a photographer in a studio in Soho. Chris meanwhile went on to a prestigious Art school in East London. He was living at the time in Leatherhead, near our old School, and one day he sought some extra training from an art teacher at Epsom Art College. Calling round one evening to speak to Mr. Dawsett, the art teacher, at his country house in the quiet village of Fetcham, Chris was distracted and rather taken by the loud noises coming from a nearby room. "Oh that's my son and daughter and a friend rehearsing" explained Mr. Dawsett... "Come in and meet them". There in the living room, were Mr. Dawsett's son, Chris, plonking away on a Farfisa organ, and a very tall lank fellow (Geoff McClelland) strumming on a red Maton guitar. There also in the room was a small girl of about eight years of age, banging away on a drum kit that towered over her head. (This being the Dawsetts' young daughter.)
Now... Chris had always fancied himself as a guitarist and tentatively asked if they might need an extra guitar player. "No!", replied the tall thin guitarist, but we do need a drummer. "Can you play drums?" "Yes!", said Chris, without thinking and who had never touched a drum kit before. He strode confidently over to the kit and immediately, and as though with some god given gift, began to bash hell out of the kit. "Wow!", said Geoff, slightly taken aback, "...we have... a gig at Fetcham Village Hall soon. You don't know a singer do you?"
Chris had remembered a school pal, called Louis Grooner, also from Box Hill School, who was a bit of a show off, so the next day, he gave him a call. Soon they were all rehearsing every night in Mr. Dawsett's living room.
Meanwhile I was working in Rome Studios in Soho, as a trainee photographer, and occasionally Chris (Townson) would often turn up at lunch time with some bird from the art school, stoned out of their heads, and try and lure me away for the afternoon. On one of these occasions, Chris surprised me by saying he had joined a group and they were going to play at Fetcham village Hall the following Saturday. "Hey Andy why don't you come down play harmonica?" (At the time I had made myself a belt with lots of pockets for harmonica's in it, which I would wear, slung diagonally across my chest like a gunslingers belt.) Anyway the following Saturday I caught the train down from Waterloo and eventually arrived at Fetcham Village Hall. I was very surprised to see how competent Chris was, playing drums. The group played a lot of blues numbers, and there at the front was my old mate Louis from Box Hill School, belting out the vocals.
Halfway though the set. Louis suddenly shouted at some one at the back of the Hall, "Hey you! Leave my Bird alone!" He then jumped off stage and chased the guy out of the hall. The band continued to play, waiting for the wayward singer to return. After about three minutes and still no return, without thinking I jumped up on the stage and started wailing away on one of my harmonicas, and then for some unknown reason I started making up words to the song, the words were slightly incomprehensible but could sound almost be believable. (It's something I do to this day when I am writing lines for a song to get the melody.) Anyway at the end of the song, people started clapping and cheering, so Geoff announced the next song and I carried on. Louis never returned. I was in a group! The following week I found myself in Mr. Dawsett's living room.
At the time the group were called The Clockwork Onions and after a few name changes including The Few, I one day came upon the idea of The Silence (seeing as we played so loud). (During the brief period the band were called The Few the group also included a second guitarist called Baz and a friend of Chris Townson's from art school, Martin Sheller on backing vocals, harmonica and tambourine. -Mikko)
Chris Dawsett, who by now was playing bass dropped out of the group, to further his art career, and we found a guy called John Hewlett, who although he couldn't play bass very well, he looked good, and said he had a few influential contacts (we later found out he didn't). Still we were all now exactly the same height, a thing that was very important that year.
Soon we had quite a following in the local area, and had a weekly Friday night spot at the Chuck Wagon, a venue in the centre of Leatherhead. (Later to be called The Bluesette, and then when we were managed by Simon Napier-Bell, who bought the club for us and named it John's Children's Club).
We would go into Kingston on Saturday to Modern Man and to get all our mod gear and the right hair cut. Then on to Hammersmith to pick up some blues, purple hearts etc. for the weekend.
It wasn't long before we started writing our own songs. The very first one, was one I wrote called "Green Light", which was influenced by The Pretty Things' "Rosalyn". Initially we were very influenced by the Stones, Pretty Things, Kinks and the Who. One night at Ashstead Peace Memorial Hall, I Jumped into the audience and stamped on my maracas, smashing them to pieces. This minor incident seemed to cause quite a stir, so I was soon diving into the audience and somersaulting back on stage at all our gigs.
Word was getting around about us, and the Small Faces Manager, Don Arden (notorious sixties manager) invited us to his office in Carnaby Street. He wanted to sign us there and then, but we were a bit taken aback by his scary demeanour. We said to him, we would give it some thought. He was not pleased and then asked us to play a gig with the Small Faces in North Wales, Rhyll Pier, to be precise. We later heard rumours that all he wanted, was to sign us, and then disband us, so as not to compete with the Small Faces.
A local guy (Pierre Tubbs) turned up at one of our gigs, and said he had a Revox two track recorder and would like to record us. By now we had written quite a few songs and on a bright summer Sunday afternoon in 1965 we traipsed down a garden path in Dorking to the shed at the bottom of Pierre's garden. Here we recorded three songs "Down Down", "Cold On Me" and "Forgive Me If I'm Wrong".
Some thirty years later I was contacted by Pierre, who to my surprise said he had some Silence recordings that he'd found in a box. The tape was rapidly deteriorating and needed to be put in an oven at a low heat for a short time and then played once, and copied on to a cassette. Years later I copied them onto a CD.
Back to the plot... We had got this summer gig coming up at Burford Bridge swimming pool. But the week before the gig, John and Chris, took off to the South of France, with the manager of the Bluesette club (Gordon Bennett... yes, real name) and his rubber cheque book. Not knowing they had left the country, I suddenly got a telegram from John... "We are in St Tropez... Bring all the equipment!" (I've still got the actual telegram to this day.) Unbeknownst to myself and Geoff, Chris had been arrested in Cannes, and John had gone off along the coast to seek someone he could sweet talk into putting up the bail money. Strolling in to The Voom Voom club in St. Tropez, he was spotted by the then Yardbirds manager, Simon Napier-Bell, sitting at table with Zoot Money and other assorted English musicians.
Simon was rather taken by the lost looking character as he strolled into the club, and John was soon asked to join their table for drinks. John worked his magic and soon had the manager paying Chris's bail money and also in a drunken moment got him to agree to come down to Surrey, when he got back to England, and see John and Chris's band, The Silence. On returning to England and travelling down in his Bentley Convertible to The Burford Bridge Hotel, what Napier-Bell witnessed was a shock, even to him, as he watched the singer, sing from the top board, and with the microphone in hand, plunge dangerously into the pool. The noise from the band was echoing around the North Downs and finally he watched in disbelief as the drummer kicked his drum kit into the pool. At the local pub, quite a few brandies later, Simon Napier-Bell declared The Silence were the worst band he had ever seen, "I'll sign you."
The rest of the story was written by webmaster Mikko Kapanen:
So Napier-Bell wasn't impressed by the group's songs or musicianship but after a few drinks however he agreed to manage them and he also came up with another new name for the band, John's Children. The band was renamed after bass player John Hewlett who was so bad at his instrument that Napier-Bell wanted some way to make sure the others wouldn't sack him. He also dressed them in clean white outfits because looking like nice clean angelic boys created great contrast with their primal wildman stage antics; after people saw the band walk onstage they couldn't believe the mayhem they were witnessing!
A recording deal was secured with The Yardbirds' label Columbia, a subsidary of EMI, and in October '66 the band's debut 45 "Smashed Blocked" b/w "Strange Affair" was released (though retitled "The Love I Thought I'd Found" in the UK). The record was actually cut by Los Angeles studio musicians and the only member of the band to appear on the single was Andy Ellison. In the US the single went into Billboard's Top 100 and the band's US label, White Whale (home also to The Turtles, members of whom would later work with T. Rex, it's a small world) wanted an album's worth of John's Children material. The band went into Advision studios and recorded what they considered their ten best tracks. Simon Napier-Bell decided it would be a great idea to overdub hysterical audience screams over the whole album to make the Americans think the band was really big in England, which he did (the screams were lifted straight out of The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night movie). He also decided to call the album Orgasm (to describe the "excitement" of the LP) and put a picture of a young lady quite possibly having one on the sleeve which was then flyposted across the US attracting advance orders of 35000 copies. In the end the title and the sleeve got the album banned in the States (a pressure group called "The Daughters Of The American Revolution" complained about the title and the release was cancelled). The LP was never even offered to the UK record label. (The album was finally first released by White Whale in 1970, by which time the band had already disbanded.)
An American tour had been planned to promote the Orgasm album but with the cancellation of the album the tour was scrapped. Instead Napier-Bell booked the band on a five week engagement in Paris at the Bus Palladium. They also played a gig in support to The Pretty Things in Paris (that must have been quite a wild night!).
Columbia put out a second 45 in February 1967, "Just What You Want - Just What You'll Get" b/w "But She's Mine". Again the A-side was recorded by session men but the band was let loose on the flip side which featured Jeff Beck doing the guitar solo.
The band and Napier-Bell eventually agreed that Geoff McClelland (whose job it was to "faint" on stage when the band ran out of songs so they had an excuse to cut the set short!) didn't really fit in with the rest of the band and he was let go. McClelland then put together a new band with another ex-Silence member Chris Dawsett on keyboards called Misty Romance. Other band members were Andy Ward (drums) and Joey Barnes (bass/vocals). The latter was later replaced by Doug Ferguson (bass) and Wendy Hoyle (vocals). As it happened, Napier-Bell was also managing a young aspiring Dylan/Donovan influenced guitarist/singer/songwriter whose solo career didn't seem to be taking off, and so he introduced Marc Bolan to John's Children. Bolan had by then already released three solo singles, the first of which was called "The Wizard" b/w "Beyond the Risin' Sun" (Decca F12288, 1965). This record was in fact credited to Marc Bowland. The spelling was checked for the second one but "The Third Degree" b/w "San Francisco Poet" (Decca F12413, 1966) still didn't exactly trouble the charts. The final one was from early 1967, "Hippy Gumbo" b/w "Misfit" (Parlophone R5539). The last two A-sides ended up in John's Children's repertoire as did a lot of other material Bolan had already written prior to his joining the band, such as "The Perfumed Garden Of Gulliver Smith". Bolan and Ellison also immediately started working on arranging a new song of Marc's called "Midsummer Night's Scene".
Simon Napier-Bell bought the aforementioned Bluesette club so the band could rehearse, play gigs, hang out and, in Chris Townson's case, live there. The club was rechristened after the band and their mate Chris Colville (who would later join the group for a brief spell) was brought in to run the club, design posters and arrange for bands (like Tomorrow, The Action and The Riot Squad) to perform there. Marc Bolan bought a Gibson SG electric guitar from a local band to plug into the band's Jordan amplifiers that had been shipped over from America (the band had made an endorsement deal in '66 when Geoff was still in the group). These were the loudest equipment available at the time (also used by NASA!). Marc also purchased some large silver screens from a junk shop and placed them around the amps to get more feedback. One more quite original, if somewhat baffling feature for a mod style band was arranged for John's Children: they had bikers or "rockers" as their roadies/bodyguards, sometimes standing on the stage when the band played.
"Not The Sort Of Girl" was supposed to be the next single but the release was cancelled and the band changed labels from Columbia/EMI to Track Records, where they were label mates with The Who and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, among others.
In April '67 the band went on the legendary tour of Germany supporting The Who. The band went down really well because of their outrageous stage act which basically out-Whoed The Who. Naturally The Who and their managers weren't very happy with that, or the fact that the Children's Jordan amps were louder than The Who's Marshalls! Musically of course, John's Children were absolutely no competition to The Who's tight playing so they had to go completely over the top on stage... And they did just that at the infamous Ludwigshafen gig. Marc would beat his guitar with a heavy chain while Andy and John were pretending to fight eachother (a showstopper complete with fake blood capsules and all!). Chris kept beating the shit out of his drums, Andy dived into the audience ripping open a pillow and spreading the feathers everywhere - basically just making a mess of the place. The audience went completely mad; people tried to pick fights with the band, and before long an actual full scale riot ensued! Chairs were flying all over the place as the audience was out to lynch John's Children... The band fled from the venue, leaving all their equipment behind. As they were in their car, getting away from the venue they saw the riot police had arrivied with their water cannons... The Who kicked the band off the tour and they went back home.
The next gig was the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream show (or "happening") at the Alexandra Palace on 29 April, which was a benefit for the underground newspaper International Times following a police raid on their offices. An estimated 10000 strong audience saw The Pink Floyd, The Creation, The Move, The Pretty Things, John's Children and many other groups playing plus all kinds of multimedia shows.
The third single "Desdemona" b/w "Remember Thomas à Beckett" was released in May '67. The lyric contained the line "lift up your skirt and fly" which the BBC unsurprisingly deemed unsuitable, so a new vocal track was recorded with the offending line changed to "why do you have to lie". Still the record wasn't played much, even though it was promoted visibly with a front cover advertisement in the NME.
The German dates were only a small leg of The Who's tour, which they were still continuing through Scandinavia, Belgium and the UK. In late May Keith Moon injured himself badly enough to be hospitalized throwing his drums around onstage and Julian Covey of Julian Covey And The Machine and The Brian Auger Trinity stood in for him for one gig. After that one gig Napier-Bell and The Who's manager Kit Lambert agreed that Chris Townson should be Moon's replacement for the remainder of the tour and so Chris got to play four British dates with his all time favourite band. Halfway through the first gig Pete Townshend introduced Chris to the audience and there was a tremendous roar of applause because "Desdemona" was number two in the local chart and the crowd knew full well who Chris was! At the last gig The Who literally blew Chris off the stage with flash powder in revenge for the Children's reckless behaviour on the German tour. Chris always said that going back to John's Children after playing with The Who was a bit depressing... Ironically, Chris Townson himself had once been briefly replaced (in the pre Bolan days) by John Hellier (who publishes the Small Faces fanzine "The Darlings of Wapping Wharf Launderette") when Chris had done one of his disappearing acts!
Marc Bolan made his last appearance with the band on 19 May at the John's Children's Club. He also recorded a BBC session with them which was broadcast on 17 June. Also in May, the band had recorded their next 45 which was readied for a July release, "Midsummer Night's Scene" b/w "Sara Crazy Child". The band and Bolan in particular were not satisfied with the sound so only a few dozen copies were ever pressed and they were distributed to fans at the JC club. These days this 7" is one of the most sought after records of its era and is worth thousands of pounds! After Bolan decided, in Andy's words, that "an acoustic guitar and a set of bongos might be a safer bet", he put together the psychedelic/acoustic/hippie duo Tyrannosaurus Rex with percussionist Steve Peregrine Took. After three LPs Took was replaced by Mickey Finn who became Bolan's long time side kick. Tyrannosaurus Rex released the following albums: My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair, But Now They're Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows (1968, this LP included "Hot Rod Momma" and "Mustang Ford" which were originally John's Children tunes!), Prophets, Seers, And Sages, The Angels Of the Ages (1968), Unicorn (1969) and A Beard Of Stars (1970). In 1970 Bolan shortened the band's name to the more "rocking" T. Rex whose music rocked a bit more too and who became one of biggest bands of the early '70s making Bolan a superstar in the process. After shortening the band's name and adopting once again a more electric sound, Marc basically invented what is known as Glam Rock and became its brightest star. After releasing one more LP with the duo line up of Bolan and Finn, bassist Steve Currie was added and a bit later drummer Bill Legend which is when the legendary T. Rex sound ("Hot Love", "Get It On", "Metal Guru", "Telegram Sam", etc...) was unleashed! T. Rex released the following albums: T. Rex (1970), Electric Warrior (1971), The Slider (1972), Tanx (1973), Zinc Alloy And The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow Or A Creamed Cage In August (1974), Bolan's Zip Gun (1975), Futuristic Dragon (1976) and Dandy In The Underworld (1977).
After Marc Bolan's departure the three piece John's Children recorded a new version of "Remember Thomas à Beckett", now retitled "Come And Play With Me In The Garden" and replaced the shelved single's A-side with it. "Come And Play..." b/w "Sara Crazy Child" was released in August '67. The trio appeared in publicity shots naked, covered only by some strategically placed flowers!
Although John's Children arguably pioneered the use of the word "flowers" in pop, the fashions of the summer of '67 were starting to have an effect on the band. Despite Napier-Bell's protests the white gear was out and the band now wore the beads and kaftans typical of the psychedelic era.
After the single was released the band departed for their second tour of Germany. The line up now included new drummer (and ex-roadie/club manager) Chris Colville with Chris Townson now playing the guitar. The band played at the Star Club and appeared on German TV billed above Jimi Hendrix! They were also driven through the streets of Hamburg naked and swamped in flowers in a live re-enactment of the German picture sleeve.
The next 45, released in October '67, "Go Go Girl" b/w "Jagged Time Lapse", was to be their last. The band still tried to get a new line-up together by asking Trevor White from fellow Leatherhead group The A-Jaes to join the band as their new guitarist (Marc had bought his Gibson SG guitar from the very same fellow!). White agreed to join the band but before he got a chance to rehearse with them, the band had already broken up. Hewlett and Townson weren't really getting along anymore at this point and they came to blows on their last British tour during which it had all gone a bit sour and so they all went their separate ways.
Following the split, Napier-Bell intended to make Andy a solo star by releasing solo singles (which he'd also attempted with The Yardbirds' Keith Relf previously). "It's Been A Long Time" (Track, 604 018, Dec. '67) was used in the film Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush. Its flip slide "Arthur Green" was in fact a recording of the last John's Children line-up. This was the last single to be released by Track. The second single was "Fool From Upper Eden" b/w "Another Lucky Lie" (CBS, 3357, Mar. '68), which despite being a totally groovy tune wasn't a hit. Andy's brief late '60s solo career ended on Napier-Bell's own label with a big band version of The Beatles' "You Can't Do That" backed with a fantastic Bolan/Ellison penned psychedelic/"raga rock" tune "Cornflake Zoo" (SNB 55-3308, May '68). Other Ellison solo recordings were "Casbah Candy" (also written by Bolan) and another big band Beatles cover "Help!" but these were never released at the time. Andy's solo material has since appeared on John's Children compilations as well as on his own Cornflake Zoo CD.
John Hewlett went into management handling Sparks and Jook, a band that was formed by long time friend of John's Children from Leatherhead, guitarist Trevor White, whom Hewlett introduced to vocalist/guitarist Ian Kimmit. The pair went to Scotland to put a band together and found bass player Ian Hampton, and on their return to London Trevor White suggested Chris Townson to join in as drummer. John Hewlett came up with the name which came about because he kept on singing the classic song "Duke Of Earl", but when he sang it, it always sounded like "Jook Of Earl". After a bit of gigging up and down the country Hewlett secured a recording deal with RCA (who were keen on promoting the band as the '70s John's Children!) and "Alright With Me" b/w "Do What You Can" (RCA 2279, Oct. 1972) was released but the single was a complete flop. The second single "Shame" b/w "City And Suburban Blues" (RCA 2344, Apr. 1973) wasn't even intended for release (both sides were cover versions recorded live in the studio) but no one told RCA and they went ahead and released them! For the best part of 1973 Jook had a once a month residency at one of London's premier venues, the Edmonton Sundown. The next single was "Oo Oo Rudi" b/w "Jook's On You" (RCA 2368, Jul. 1973) and although the band were getting quite a lot of press coverage (even appearing in the teeny bop magazines) the single still wasn't successful. After one more stab at singles success, "King Kapp" b/w "Rumble" (RCA 2431, Nov. 1973), in 1974 the band started work on an album which was to be called Different Class. At a gig in Edinburgh in early 1974, a local band who had very long hair and looked very scruffy dropped in to their dressing room to rave about their image. A few weeks later Jook sat back in total disbelief to watch the same set of lads with a somewhat more appealing look on Top Of The Pops. The band? The Bay City Rollers! It was the end of the road for Jook. RCA released one more single, "Bish, Bash, Bosh" b/w "Crazy Kids" (LPBO 5024, Apr. 1974) which was as commercial pop as Jook had ever been but, still no success in the charts. A tour with Sweet was planned but cancelled. In the Spring of 1974, Trevor White and Ian Hampton joined Sparks. In 1976 after Trevor White had been released from Sparks he talked Island Records into releasing a single. A new recording was made of his last Jook release "Crazy Kids", along with a new song called "Understood". Ex Sparks bassist Martin Gordon appeared on the recordings as well as Chris Townson. When the single was released, "Understood" for some reason was dropped. In its place was an unreleased Jook number that Trevor had sung on and also written titled "Movin' In The Right Direction".
Gordon and Townson then got together with Andy Ellison to put together a new band of their own. The trio enrolled guitarist Ian MacLeod and a bit later, another one called Davey O'List (ex The Nice, Jethro Tull, Roxy Music). A while later still, keyboardist Peter Oxendale was also added. The group soon made a management deal which included the condition that second guitarist MacLeod was one band member too many and so he was let go. The band was called Jet and they recorded a great eponymous LP for CBS records. The band's style was a sort of quirky and melodic, glam influenced pop/rock. As soon as Jet started touring, Chris had to be replaced due to a leg injury he acquired from playing football. His replacement was Jim Toomey and as it happens, Chris only ever played one live show with Jet at the Marquee club in Autumn of 1975. Soon after this, the band was dropped by their label and they just sort of drifted apart after Townson decided to quit music. Fan Mael Records have released a brilliant double CD called Nothing To Do With Us which includes EVERYTHING Jet ever recorded (the LP coupled with demos and all sorts of non album tracks) and it's definitely worth the purchase for JC fans.
Ellison and Gordon carried on after Jet's breakup with guitarist Ian MacLeod (Trevor White also joined a bit later) when they found out Chiswick records were interested in them. Radio Stars as the band was named, for some reason always had trouble finding a permanent drummer and so they ended up going through lord knows how many of them during their career... The group released Jet's last demo "Dirty Pictures" as their first single (which thus has Townson on drums). The single met with success in the new wave/independent charts and was the single of the week in the NME. The band had further hits with such singles as "Nervous Wreck" and recorded an album called Songs For Swinging Lovers (which has a picture of the couple in question hanging from a tree by their necks on the front!) and another one called Holiday Album. All through Radio Stars' career Andy continued his wild stage antics from the JC days (drawing comparisons to Iggy Pop), or maybe even went further with them... During one British tour he managed to cause himself a cracked skull (after he fell off the ceiling head on into the drum kit), a dislocated jawbone (after falling off the lighting rig into the audience), a sprained ankle, three broken ribs, damaged nerve tendons and an unsolicited injection in the arm from someone in the audience (after which Andy complained of feeling sleepy for a couple of days). In the end Andy was insured against potential damage he might cause to himself or others for £250000. Radio Stars split up in 1979 due to financial problems even though they were still well received by live audiences. There's a Radio Stars compilation CD out on Chiswick records called Somewhere There's A Place For Us which is a good purchase for John's Children fans.
During the '80s and '90s interest in John's Children's history and music grew steadily and the band gained an undeniable cult status. Their music has been re-released on many different reissue albums and various artists compilations. In 1982 John Hewlett suggested getting a version of John's Children together in support of Cherry Red Records' The Legendary Orgasm Album re-release. However, Hewlett realized he wasn't up to it, so he suggested Martin Gordon to take his place and Adrian Fisher (ex Sparks) to play guitar. That line-up didn't seem to work, so Adrian was dropped and Trevor White was again brought in. Then Trevor switched to bass instead of Martin and Adrian was brought back in on guitar. Then all five played together! The problem was no one seemed to know what they were doing. Hewlett had just booked a studio and took it for granted that once everyone was in there things would happen. But nothing did. Versions of "Desdemona" and "Sara Crazy Child" were done along with a song written by Andy and Martin called "Dead City". After this false start and various Radio Stars reunions, John's Children finally did reform in 1992 for a live gig in Darmstadt, Germany. The line-up featured Andy and Chris with Boz Boorer (of Morrissey and The Polecats fame) on guitar and Jonny Bridgwood on bass. From then on the band kept going with first Gary Day and then Martin Gordon taking on bass duties. In 1999 the band released a CD EP that contained some great new material and an amazing new version of "Sara Crazy Child". In 2000 the band played a mini tour in Europe to promote the re-release of Jet's sole LP, performing Jet, as well as John's Children and Radio Stars songs. During this tour the band recorded a live album called Music For The Herd Of Herring which was released in 2001. For some shows after this Martin Gordon was replaced by Phil King (ex Lush, The Jesus And Mary Chain) and Andy Lewis (Paul Weller).
A full length studio album - in fact only the band's second! - called Black & White (work on which started with those 1999 sessions and was spread out over many years) was finally brought out by Acid Jazz records in 2011. With Chris Townson's untimely passing in 2008 the story as far as the live band went seemed to be over. Ellison continued to appear solo, also guesting with other bands sporadically until in 2010 he performed two shows of John's Children classics in Finland backed by johnschildren.co.uk webmaster Mikko Kapanen on guitar, Ville Särmä on drums and Kassu Kapanen on bass. This line-up has continued to keep the spirit of John's Children alive since then, also playing well-received gigs in England - occasionally augmented by Boz Boorer for a five man/double guitar attack.