John Cameron Biography

1944, England. Cameron played piano from the age of six and in his teens performed and arranged semi-professionally. While studying music at Cambridge University he meanwhile played jazz piano in clubs and wrote chamber music. Later, while working in London clubs, he was asked by record producer Mickie Most to arrange ‘Sunshine Superman’ for Donovan. Cameron also composed ‘If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind’, a 60s hit for Cilla Black and a European hit almost four decades later for Agnetha Fältskog. He wrote library music used on television commercials and drama series and elsewhere. A notable tune from this period is his ‘Half Forgotten Daydreams’. In these and later years Cameron’s musical companions often included noted jazz names: trumpeters Harry Beckett, Henry Lowther, Kenny Wheeler, trombonists Don Lusher, saxophonists Tony Coe, Tubby Hayes, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Harold McNair, Danny Moss, Ronnie Ross, Jimmy Skidmore, Kathy Stobart, Ray Warleigh, pianist Alan Branscombe, bass players Herbie Flowers, Danny Thompson, drummers Tony Carr, Barry Morgan, vibraphonist Bill Le Sage, and vocalist Norma Winstone.

As an arranger, Cameron was successful with bands such as Hot Chocolate (‘Every 1’s A Winner’ and ‘You Sexy Thing’), and Heatwave, and with musicians as diverse as Julie Felix, Stan Dorfman, Maynard Ferguson, Salena Jones, and José Carreras. His eight-part setting of Edward Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ was included on the bestselling Agnus Dei. In 1970, at Most’s prompting, Cameron was co-founder of CCS (Collective Consciousness Society) with guitarist Alexis Korner and vocalist Peter Thorup. The band recorded several hits including ‘Walkin’’, ‘Tap Turns On The Water’ and ‘Whole Lotta Love’. The latter was used for several years as the opening theme for BBC television’s Top Of The Pops. Other BBC television themes were 24 Hours and Crimewatch UK. Cameron’s film work includes arranging Donovan’s themes for Poor Cow (1967), while his scores include Kes (1969), Black Beauty (1970), with Lionel Bart, the Oscar-nominated A Touch Of Class (1973), and David Essex’s Silver Dream Racer (1980). Later films include Little House On The Prairie (2004). Cameron’s work in musical theatre includes Les Misérables (all scores from 1979), which brought him a New York Drama Desk award in 1986 and The National Broadway Theatre Award in 2002. In 2005 came The Far Pavilions, Alfie, The Musical (in collaboration with Dougray Scott), and a year later Zorro, The Musical, with the Gypsy Kings.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.