Home   Biography 'Johnny Hooper's Saxophone Bistro' albums contact
Johnny Hooper
Alto saxophonist, Composer, Entertainer
b. 1957, Newport, South Wales, Great Britain.

Johnny Hooper's introduction to the saxophone began at the age of twenty after spotting the instrument in a junk shop in his home town. His early influences came during this period when he first heard saxophonist David Sanborn performing on David Bowie's album 'Young Americans'. From then on, he was hooked.

Teaching himself to play after his saxophone teacher failed to turn up after his second lesson, Johnny played briefly with local New Wave bands Ralph and the Ponytails and Rudy and the Russians, before going on to co-found a reggae band called The Beat Roots. Establishing a good following on the live music scene, they recorded a single with UB40 producer Bob Lamb, getting air-play on BBC Radio One.

In 1983, The Beat Roots disbanded, and Johnny was now living in London. He jammed with former Soft Machine saxophonist Elton Dean and was shown some 'alternative fingering' techniques on the instrument by another top International saxophonist Dick Morrissey, both of whom spurred him on with their encouragement.

For the next three years, Johnny would perform his solo show in London's Covent Garden, and in 1985 he performed at The Edinburgh Festival. He started to write his own songs, constructing them first on guitar, before performing them in a studio on saxophone. He produced three albums in three years...

Johnny returned to record producer Bob Lamb's studio in Birmingham to record his album 'Sidewalk Silhouette' which was to feature a number of his original compositions. A friendship and working relationship would now begin with fellow Welsh musicians Carl Simmonds and Hywel Maggs.

In 1987 Johnny moved to Windsor, Berkshire, and was spotted by TV A.M.'s fitness guru Lizzie Webb. She regularly worked out to his music on air and in 1989 Johnny made a live appearance with her on the breakfast show performing one of his original tunes 'Bigger Than The Sky'. By now, Johnny had released the album 'Road Works' (1988) which was his first album of entirely original material. Johnny went on to write the theme tune for Lizzie's hit children's television series screened on Channel Four and subsequent videos. Johnny's performances were now taking him to France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland and many bookings now ensued.

Also working as an entertainer in Covent Garden at that time was rising star Eddie Izzard. Eddie asked Johnny to co-appear on a television documentary in 1989 about London's South Bank. The documentary featured two of Johnny's original compositions (included on the album 'Road Works').

In 1990 Johnny recorded his album 'Juked', a collection of 1950's covers, which would also prove to be an extremely popular selling album.

In 1991 Johnny appeared alongside Carl and Hywel in the house band on the HTV series, 'The Mike Doyle' show, a six-week stint during which Johnny backed '60s band The Drifters amongst others.

In 1992 came his next CD 'Fat Cats' of which 50% features more original compositions.

Johnny was invited by well-known actress and producer Kate Williams to perform at a number of charity shows staged at The Stratford Theatre Royal in London sharing the bill with comedian Brian Conley.

In the mid-'90s Johnny started to make his first trips to The Algarve in Portugal, where he spends most of the year entertaining tourists from all over the world. Johnny's influences would now include the sax styles of Earl Bostic and King Curtis, attributing a certain maturity to his playing. Johnny Hooper is a passionate player with a tremendously expressive sound. In line with the increase in performances, Johnny's unique style is reflected in his phenomenal CD sales. The demand for his music has been increasing year by year winning him many fans the world over.

More albums soon followed:
'For The City' (1994), 'Misty' (1995), 'In The Mood' (1997)

In 2000 Johnny really wanted to play with a band again and decided to form a quintet with his good friends and top session players Carl Simmonds (keyboards) and Hywel Maggs (guitar), to include in his, by now, annual winter tour of the UK.
The chemistry was fantastic and a live album '
Live at the Watermill' was recorded in January 2000 in Surrey during a sell-out concert tour that winter. The band also featured Greg Evans on bass and Gregory Sinclair Evans on drums. The Johnny Hooper Band received a standing ovation.
2001 saw the introduction to the band of the charasmatic Eiron Goss on keyboards and the highly-acclaimed five-piece is now a firm feature of Johnny's winter gigs, adding another dimension to his dynamic performances.

In December 2001 came the release of 'I Believe' which is also the first album to be recorded in Portugal with top producer and fellow British saxophonist Tony Holly.

Johnny Hooper's 9th recording comes in the form of 'Secret Jewels' which was released in December 2003.
In early 2005, Johnny received an email from Randy Alpert, the composer of the Grammy award-winning 'Rise'. He wanted to hear Johnny's version of the tune which appears on Secret Jewels. Randy was impressed with Johnny's version and later played it to his uncle Herb Alpert, who performed the original version. Another email soon followed remarking that Herb had really 'dug it' and that Johnny "plays with a lot of soul and a great tone."
Click here for Album Reviews...

In June 2006, Johnny set up his own successful and very popular live music and entertainment venue/restaurant in Albuefeira,
'Johnny Hooper's Saxophone Bistro'. Attracting many regular and long-standing fans as well as new-comers he performs and entertains the audience two nights a week from March to November. The buzzy atmosphere is incredible as the diners are treated to mellow renditions during the early part of the evening. Johnny proves a great host and really entertains with his fun music quiz during the break and then soon gets the crowd up dancing while he performs his livelier set on the saxophone before turning DJ into the small hours. A truly memorable night out and not to be missed!

Album number 10 was recorded in January 2008. Johnny returned to Pinewood Audio to record 'Smile' with Carl and Hywel and for the first time brought a horn section into the studio. Johnny also brought in his daughter Greta Hooper to sing backing vocals on the album. 'Smile' was released in Portugal in September 2008 and in the UK in December 2008.

Back to top

  back to home page