John Cooper Clarke | Artist
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John Cooper Clarke is an English performance poet born 1949 in Salford, UK. He first became recognised as a "punk poet" in the late 1970s and early 1980s performing on stage with several punk and post-punk bands. Clarke was drawn to poetry as a youth and was encouraged to pursue it professionally following the example of poet-comedian Pam Ayers. His first job was a laboratory technician at Salford Tech. He began his performance career in Manchester folk clubs, working with Rick Goldstraw and his band the Ferrets. His first release in October '77 was the EP Innocents, on Tosh Ryan and Martin Hannett's independent label Rabid. Rabid also released his debut LP Où est la maison de fromage'?, which was a collection of live recordings, demos and rehearsals. He toured with Bill Nelson's Be-Bop Deluxe in 1978 and was signed by Epic Records, who issued the studio album Disguise In Love (1978), produced by Hannett. Some of his more well known works from the period are "Post-war Glamour Girl", "Gimmix!", "Splat/Twat", "The It Man" and "I Don't Want to be Nice". He also released a DVD and book of poetry entitled "Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt". After the release of 1982's Zip Style Method album, Clark withdrew from performing, spending much of the 1980s mired in heroin addiction, living in a domestic partnership with singer and fellow addict Nico. Eventually becoming clean, he returned to live performance in the 1990s, appearing with Suns of Arqa in 1992. In July 2019 Clarke was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. A fan of the show for 60 years, he described it as having "all the finality of a suicide note, without the actual obligation of topping yourself". His book choice was Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans, his luxury item was a boulder of opium twice the size of his head, and his favourite track was "How Great Thou Art" by Elvis Presley. In July 2013, Clarke was awarded an honorary doctorate of arts by the University of Salford in "acknowledgement of a career which has spanned five decades, bringing poetry to non-traditional audiences and influencing musicians and comedians." Standout releases include the albums Où est la maison de fromage?, Disguise in Love, Snap Crackle and Bop and Zip Style Method, the live album Walking Back to Happiness, the EP Innocents, and the 2015 compilation Anthologia.
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