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In this episode, we are featuring one of the Pop/Rock world’s most recognizable saxophonists, John Helliwell.

If you’ve ever heard The Logical Song, or Take the Long Way Home, Give a Little Bit, or It’s Raining Again by Supertramp, you’ve heard saxophonist and woodwinds specialist, John Anthony Helliwell.

Born in West Yorkshire, England, John’s first instrument was the clarinet.

After hearing Sidney Bechet and Cannonball Adderley, he saved up his money to buy an alto saxophone at age 15, and never looked back.

John played with many bands (The Dicemen, Alan Bown Set, and many others), and in the summer of 1973, got a call from the band, Supertramp.

They made the album “Crime of the Century” and began the long climb to international success, moving to California in the process.

“Breakfast in America” was the biggest selling album in the world in 1979!

Helliwell has been with the group for 50 years, and now also plays music based on his many inspirations – including jazz, funk, blues, soul and rock.

He has a jazz group – “Crème Anglaise” and also plays around Europe.

His latest projects are:

1) “The Super Big Tramp Band” – an 18 piece big band playing the music of Supertramp instrumentally with John soloing and acting as master of ceremonies,
2) “Ever Open Door” (Challenge Records 73511) – a sextet playing folk tunes and ballads with saxophone and clarinet, The Singh String Quartet, and John Ellis on Hammond organ.
3) “Don’t Ever Leave Me” (Challenge Records – 2022) – a quartet with 3 major Dutch jazz musicians: Jasper Somsen – bass, Marcel Serierse – drums, and Hans Vroomans – piano.

You can find Victor’s full Bio on his site. The link is below.

In this episode, we talked about:

  • Getting his first saxophone after being inspired by Cannonball Adderley
  • How he taught himself jazz and learned on the fly, playing with many different bands
  • The story behind joining the legendary Pop group, Supertramp, and how he’s stayed with them for 50 years
  • The stories behind his iconic sax solos with Supertramp
  • Why his solos have stood the test of time
  • His equipment
  • New projects
  • And much more!

Here’s the Video:

 

Links and Resources:

1. John’s website: http://www.johnhelliwell.com/
2. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/p/John-Helliwell-100063707167259/
3. Supertramp – The Logical Song (Iconic solo at 1:52)
4. Supertramp – Take the Long Way Home (Solo starts at 2:53)
5. Supertramp – Give a Little Bit (Solo at 6:15)
6. SuperBig Tramp Band – The Logical Song
7. New album, Don’t Ever Leave Me
8. Hop Sax, from Don’t Ever Leave Me

 

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