John Otway

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It had taken 25 years, but a quarter of a century after his first Hit, Cor Baby That´s Really Free, John Otway was in the Top Ten last year with Bunsen Burner.

Over the years Otway´s fans had clubbed together to buy him a birthday present. When asked what he would like for his special 50th present, John decided that what he would like, most of all, was another Hit. He was very keen to loose his One Hit Wonder label and was aware that his fans were just as tired of the hitless years as he was.

John had not been very good at picking successful singles, so it was decided that the fans themselves should pick his present and choose the song they felt had the most potential to soar to the higher reaches of the UK charts. An 11 track CD was produced, and, to ensure that Otway could not cheat and pick his favorite, the Electoral Reform Society conducted a ballot to decide which one was to be the Hit.

The track they chose was Bunsen Burner, it was inspired by John´s daughter´s science homework and produced by Barry Upton. Barry, who had written and produced 5678 for Steps, had e-mailed Otway "just knocked Kylie Minogue off the number one album spot, want a hand with the Hit!".

The b-side of the single was recorded at Abbey Road. The studio that was famous for the fab four was booked to capture the 1,000 piece choir of Otway fans who are credited, along with the other musicians, as backing singers on the CD.

So confident were John and his following that he would cease to be a micro-star by the time he reached 50, that they booked the London Palladium for the night the chart was announced, to celebrate their success, even before they knew what the hit song was going to be. Five days after this sell out show Otway had achieved his goal and was back on Top Of The Pops.

John first became notorious back in 1977, after an appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test with his former partner Wild Willy Barrett. He had leapt astride Wild Willy´s amplifier and lost his footing. One leg slipped on one side of the sturdy wooden piece of musical equipment and the other leg down the other. The whole weight of Otway´s body crashed down on the most delicate parts of his body.

This sort of behavior went down exceedingly well with the punk audiences of the time, and Otway was rewarded with his first hit, a recording contract worth a million in today´s money and a sizable live audience.

Following a remarkable spending spree and a run of consecutive flops Otway wrote his autobiography Cor Baby That´s Really Me (Rock And Roll´s Greatest Failure) a self effacing humorous book on how certain artists have the uncanny ability to turn any promising situation to their disadvantage.

He was very, very good at being a failure and slowly, as he promoted himself in this role, he started to become a success. The audience for his live show steadily grew and by 1998 he was able to boast that ticket touts were doing a roaring trade for his show at the Royal Albert Hall.

Following this, as a run up to the Millennium, the BBC ran a poll to find the nation´s favourite song lyric over the past 2000 years. Otway was as shocked as many others to discover that Beware Of The Flowers Cause I´m Sure They´re Going To Get You Yeh, the B Side to his first hit was voted No 7. It came above artists like Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon and even Bob Dylan.

Unlike his cult following, the nation was further taken by surprise by John´s birthday present last year and the story was covered by all the major national TV news and press. Otway has recently appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, the only person in the history of the program to rise from the ranks of the "who are they now" line up, to the guest panelist.