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Spotlight: Artist John Hyatt

John Hyatt is a lot of things. Musician, artist, collector, punk-rock Professor. In an attempt to get to the bottom of this multi-faceted character – and to find out the inspirations behind his new solo exhibition Rock Art – we sat him in the Spotlight hot seat…

What was your first gig?

JH: My first gig to go and see was Slade at the height of their pop fame. It was when I was a kid – at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, their hometown and front row seats. The support acts were Suzi Quatro and Thin Lizzy. I couldn’t hear for a week afterwards. This was swiftly followed by Lou Reed; Dr. Feelgood; and Eddie and the Hotrods. Now, there is another way to answer this. My first gig to play was at RAF Cosford with my school band, The Hard Core (named after being told off by our Deputy Headmaster for being “a hard core of party-goers”, he said he suspected there “was more than beer being drunk”).

We were only fifteen and the military plied us with alcohol. We were supposed to play for an hour but we played for three and by the end had three Wrens singing backing vocals, a military drummer playing a snare drum round his neck, and a Scots Guard on bagpipes – all playing ‘No particular Place to Go’ by Chuck Berry. You can find a very old rough recording of the school band playing this if you follow this link…

What’s your earliest memory of the arts?

JH: My comics, of course, and my records. I was a working class boy. We didn’t frequent galleries. My dad was a lorry driver and my mum was a school cook. Dad bought me a single out of his pay-packet every week. The first was ‘Needles and Pins’ by The Searchers…

I had a fantastic teacher though, Roger Langley, who is a poet. I just Googled this reference for him for you and found out he has died! I didn’t know. I am sure he is flying free somewhere and singing like a nightingale. Happily, I was able to find his address and write and thank him some years ago and we exchanged correspondence for a while. He taught me the Renaissance and literature.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

JH: Well, to be honest, I always find such events a bit nerve-wracking. Whoever it was, they would have to eat Vegan, I’m afraid.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

JH: What do you mean ‘if’? I would come here, of course.

What would your super power be?

JH: Empathy.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one book/piece of music would you take?

JH: I would take a Complete Works of Shakespeare and ‘Unfaithful Servant’ by The Band.

What has been your most difficult achievement?

JH: I instigated world peace but it is taking a little while to filter through.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

JH: My life is heavily influenced by Lao Tsu and the Tao Te Ching.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure (books, TV, music, etc)?

JH: Oh, never feel guilty about pleasure!

When you’re not at work, where are you most likely to be found?

JH: When I am not at work, I cannot be found.

John Hyatt’s Rock Art runs until Wed 29 Mar. Find out more here.

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