Jon English honoured as ‘national treasure’

Missed: Jon English will be remembered at Beaumont Street Carnivale with one minute of silence. He last performed in the region in December 2015 at Wests.

JON English has beenremembered across the world as a multi-talentedsinger-songwriter, actor and star of bothrock musicals and theatre.

But the many Hunter friends he made on regular trips to the region are also cherishing the off-stage memories they madewith their mate,whothey describe as warm, humble, generous andlarger than life.

“He was mymentor, friend, bandmate, inspiration and a really easy guy to get along with,” said Newcastle-based musician Amy Vee.“He had so many great stories to tell because he lived such a rich and wonderful life.”

The British-born Logie and ARIA winner, aged 66,died on Wednesday after post-operative complications. He had reportedly been taken toNewcastle’s John Hunter Hospital with broken ribs, but suffered anaortic aneurysm.

English was in the middle of an Australian tour andwas due to appear at the Beaumont Street Carnivale on Sunday, but announcedon Monday he had to cancel the show “on the advice of his doctors”.

He had also been planning to spend Saturday watching Amy Vee perform in the closing night ofEvitaat the Civic Theatre.The pair met when English saw Vee performinRentat The Playhouse.

Vee said theyhad been in close contact over the past week and she had brought him flowersin hospital.

“I commented when I saw him that he looked well, all things considered,” said Vee, who described herself as “utterly broken” by English’s death.

“We sat and chatted and he was in great spirits.

“He was scheduled to have surgery but it should have been pretty routine, so this is a shock to us all.”

English cast Vee in his 2009production Buskers and Angels.She has toured with him since 2011.

“I’ve got so much to thank him for and owe him so much,” she said.“He took me under his wing and I learned so much from him, it was a great opportunity to hone my craft.He’sa national treasure and made such a lasting impact on all the people who met him.”

Lizotte’s proprietor Brian Lizotte wasworking in catering onJesus Christ Superstar when he met English.

English, who started in the 1990s TV sitcom All Together Now,became a regular fixture over the past 12 yearson the Lizotte’scalendar and performed at the venues abouttwice a year.

“He became part of our family,” Lizotte said.“He loaded in his own gear and wasthe first one to get there and the last one to leave after meeting fans and having a few drinks with staff.”

English was one of the last musicians to perform at the now-closed Kincumber venue and spent an afternoon commiserating on the deck.

Rock City Event Marketing director Peter Anderson said his company had worked with English since about 1980 and booked performances in the region every 18 months to two years.

“Jon was a regular visitor to the Hunter and his death is a loss for the region,” Mr Anderson said.

“Most people over 35 would have seen a Jon English performance.”

Mr Anderson said English played at venues including theformerNewcastle Workers Club, WestsLeagues Club, in Muswellbrook, Cessnock and the Central Coast and in musicals at the Civic Theatre.He often stayed at the Boulevard On Beaumont.

“He had a very strong following here,” Mr Anderson said.“He had aunique voice, he does not sound like anyone else, he sounds like Jon English.

“He had a number of strong hits over the years that he mixed with more recent material and had quality musicians around him.He was just larger than life and absolutely able to engage with an audience and share his enthusiasm.”

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