A long-term fan of the Virgin Prunes, Jhonn (né Geoffrey Laurence Burton and known for part of his life as Geoff Rushton) was born in the English county of Nottinghamshire. In a 1997 e-mail to Stuart he elaborated on his origins: “I was bought up in Lincolnshire by my Grandparents…on a pig farm. I was one of the original Pig-Children!!!”
He was captivated by the Virgin Prunes’ first single, Twenty Tens, subsequently striking up a correspondence and then friendship with Gavin Friday. In a very recent interview on RTE’s Rattlebag radio show last month, he describes getting in touch with the band via Tommy The Bottle Of Milk.
His film footage and video editing produced the video for Rhetoric that was included in the Sons Find Devils video release in 1985. He described the process as follows:
“I filmed it from the stage in a Brixton gig on Super 8 and then treated and edited at the video editing suite we had just enstalled at Some Bizzare. I did another video using similar processing techniques for a Dave-Id song but I can’t recall what it would have been. Something from the same time as Rhetoric. I was good friends with Claude Bessy as was Gavin and he got my film onto that Factory video compilation.”
Jhonn also provided a poem (Disabled Landscapes), a drawing (Adam And Yves) and a couple of collages for Rolf Vassellari’s 1985 book on the Virgin Prunes, The Faculties Of A Broken Heart. Gavin reciprocated by providing the lyrics and vocals to the track Tenderness Of Wolves on Coil’s first album, Scatology.
Jhonn’s own work in Coil, alongside Peter Christopherson, represents some of the most enthralling and original British music of the past twenty years. From the industrial excesses of The Sewage Worker’s Birthday Party (unsurprisingly, from the album Scatology), through the debauched Blakean visions of Love’s Secret Domain, to the gentler, more pastoral elements of 1998’s Equinox/Solstice releases and the almost Pythonesque elements of certain tracks on Musick To Play In The Dark (Volumes 1 & 2), Coil’s musical journey was unparalleled.
We offer our sincerest condolences to Peter and to Jhonn’s family and friends. He was a unique figure who will be both greatly missed and justly celebrated.