In Conversation with John Helliwell
The first of the 'celebrity interviews' at the World Saxophone Congress features John Helliwell. The legendary saxophonist from the pop group Supertramp talks about his rise to fame, giving an insight into life on the road with a pop group that has sold more than 60 million records, talks about his recordings with Pink Floyd, Diana Ross & many more, and more recently his work with his own band Creme Anglaise. John will be interviewed by Andy Scott.
After a brief spell at the age of 18 as a computer programmer, John has been a professional musician since 1964. First playing with “Jugs O’Henry” from Birmingham, then several years were spent with “The Alan Bown Set.” A period backing visiting American soul singers, such as Jimmy Ruffin and Arthur Conley, was followed closely by seasons in cabaret clubs in London. When he was playing in US Airbases in Germany in 1973, he got a call to join “Supertramp” with whom he has been ever since.
However, prompted by lengthy times off the road with Supertramp, John came back from California to live in the UK and to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester at the ripe old age of 47.
His lifelong interest in jazz, consolidated at college, led to his forming a jazz group - subsequently called “Crème Anglaise.” He is very proud of his group’s eponymously titled CD.
John now considers himself semi-retired, but somehow seems to be busier than ever with projects such as: the occasional Supertramp tour, a tour of “Rock Legends” in France and elsewhere with various members of “Yes” “King Crimson” “Jethro Tull” and “Fleetwood Mac,” solo jazz performances in Italy and Holland, concerts at home and abroad with “Crème Anglaise,” performances with “Excalibur” - a bizzare rock opera, etc. For instance, he recently guested with Aloe Blacc (“I need a dollar”) in May during the Cannes Film Festival.