www.john-britton.com - Bio

A musical biography ...the Early Years

I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in the south end of Manchester, New Hampshire. I listened to just about anything that was being played on AM radio in the early 70's (courtesy of the Datsun B210 station wagon that my parents had). My Dad would often play Johnny Mathis, Bobby Vinton, and Tom Jones records on the livingroom stereo. I would sometimes take a turkey baster (hey, it actually looked like a microphone...) and lip sync along to the songs.

My parents sent me to Ted Herbert's Music Mart for guitar lessons when I was about 10 years old. The teacher was one of these guys who would yell loudly at you if you weren't getting it right. One day after a lesson, he took my Dad aside and told him that he was wasting his money. The ultimate embarassment came when he then turned to my younger sister and asked her a few fundamental music theory questions - and she got them right. I never went back.

The beat of my own drum... (1976 - 1978)

Around the 6th grade, I had decided that I was going to be a drummer. I would have a mammoth drum kit, be playing in front of thousands at the Boston Garden, blah blah blah. What I got was a pair of drumsticks and a small wood and rubber pad along with a first class ticket into the Southside Junior High School band program. Yup, this was rock and roll baby!

I took drum lessons at Belisle's Music from a guy named Jim Katsekas. A far better experience than the guitar lessons were and Jim would let me bring in 45 records to play along with at the end of the lesson. He was really cool. Co-owner Shirley Belisle once told me that the members of Aerosmith would sometimes come in and play the instruments before the first Aersomith record came out.

My first band (if you want to call it that) consisted of a kid named Johnny Fortin and a few others I can't seem to remember. I went to his house one Saturday and hung out. We played "Calling, Dr. Love" by Kiss and I got to use his brothers drum kit (which was mammoth, by the way). About a week later, Fortin walked into one of my classes and from across the room shouted "You're out!".

I would continue to hone my drumming skills through the end of Junior High School. While I initially signed up for high school band in my freshman year, I dropped out pretty early on.

New Wave... the band "Revolution"

In either late 1979 or early 1980, a high school classmate named Dave Bouffard told me that a guy he worked with was in a band and they were looking for a drummer. That guy was Bob Reisman, a bass player. I eventually made contact and they invited me over one Saturday to jam. It would be the first time that I met Bob and the other two bandmates (Chris Lamy and Steve Perley) at Chris' north Manchester house.

Most of my drum kit was rented and pieced together at that point and I set up at the bottom of the stairs. It was odd that Bob and Chris were from Central High (and I a Memorial student from the completely opposite end of town). They were also a few years older than me. In either case, we clicked and the band "Revolution" was born ~ presumably named so because Chris was such a huge Beatles fan.

It would end up being one of the most dedicated bands I was involved in. At the risk of sounding like a "I had to walk 10 miles uphill in the snow" story, I used to pedal my ten speed bike clear across town on summer days and we would practice in Chris' basement for literally hours on end. Occasionally, local musicians such as Terry Lovett and harmonica player Dan Irizarry would come over and jam with us and offer sincere mentoring.

We would then take long walks around Chris' neighborhood (a loop of Ray Street, North Adams, North Chestnut, and Clarke Street) and talk about the direction that the band was taking.

By this time, New Wave and Punk Rock were in full swing. We began a steady progression of cover songs from bands like The Ramones, Talking Heads, The Fools, The Beatles, The Stones, The Dead Boys, The Sex Pistols, Cheap Trick, etc. While most of the bands at the time were doing AC/DC, Deep Purple, and the Kinks, it was clear that we were doing stuff "off the beaten path".

On June 19th 1980, we played our first gig at a club called "The Alternative" (at the corner of Wilson and Hayward Streets in Manchester). We would play other occasional gigs at the Alternative, a Christmas Party for the Kilgus Pontiac car dealership at St. Peter's Home (an orphanage of all places), and a School Dance at the Derryfield School (where Steve attended).

At one point, we had an opportunity to open for the Rossington Collins Band (an off-shoot of US southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd) which formed after a 1977 plane crash killed three of the original band members. The gig eventually fell through.

We competed in a Battle of the Bands at Central High School and were actually "booed". People would later tell Chris that they actually liked us because we were the only band doing anything "different". Adam Sandler, who grew up about three blocks north of Chris' house, was actually in the Practical Arts auditorium that day and told Chris afterward how much he liked the band.

Adam's mother Judy later asked us if we would play a private birthday party at their house. Previous to the Battle of the Bands show, she had also asked us to play a bar mitzvah party (at Adam's request) as he had gotten to know the band through his guitar teacher, Dave Brunt. We had to decline both, due to the fact that we weren't exactly playing "Classic Rock' setlists at the time!

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Punk Rock... "The Kids" and G.G. Allin

By mid 1981, the band concentrated primarily on punk rock and the second incarnation was renamed "The Kids". On the night before my first day of school as a sophomore, September 2nd 1981, we (and another band out of Nashua) opened for punk rocker G.G. Allin at the famous Channel club in Boston.

It was pretty cool to hear our band name announced on 94.5 FM (Boston's WCOZ at the time) in the radio advertisement for the show. Allin signed his name on the wall (with all the other famous artists that had played there) and was also interviewed by the underground magazine Sweet Potatoe.

Just the ride down (cramped into a Ford Econoline van with G.G. and crew) was quite memorable and a story for another time. The show was a hoot and I remember that we were so stoked to be playing a Boston Club venue that were playing the songs at hyperspeed! After our set, a waitress came up and asked me if I wanted a beer even though I was 16 years old at the time. We then sat in the audience and watched G.G. "do his thing".

I'm pretty certain that Chris was moonlighting in G.G.'s band by this time. Chris would later say that G.G. recruited him into his band because he thought we were getting too good. Chris also tells me that the management of the Boston band The Neighborhoods (Pretty Polly Productions) wanted to sign us. When G.G. overheard this, he decided that Chris needed to be in The Jabbers.

At the end of 1981, I sold my drum kit for a maple Stratocaster copy. I had decided my drumming days were over. Unfortunately, I could not recognize or appreciate the uniqueness of what were doing at the time but I also came to the realization that punk was just not for me. Being in a band with these guys exposed me to the origins of my self-taught guitar playing (during one of our infamous group camping trips at Bear Brook State Park). They also introduced me to a variety of great music that I might not otherwise have heard.

Years later, Chris and Steve would form the punk rock band Rat Fink and would play at the famous CBGB club in New York City to promote The Ramones newly launched website. Chris had become good friends with The Ramones over the years. I had the distinct pleasure of being in the same room with G.G. Allin and The Ramones at an in-store appearance at a Strawberrie's Record store in the fall of 1984. In 2005, Chris reformed the original Jabbers (minus G.G. of course, who died in 1993). They have a recording contract with Steel Cage Records and sometimes play locally and abroad.

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The 80's Night Moves...and Friends In Blue

I would spend the remainder of my high school years jamming with classmates and developing my transition to guitar. Bill "Bibs" Hughen, Chris Cavanaugh, and I had formed a short-lived band called Side Effex in 1984. I also played with school groups and performed at school functions and continued playing with local musicians. After high school, I developed a local DJ business.

In 1985, I joined a local band called "Night Moves" (which obviously performed Bob Seger covers among other rock favorites). Cavanaugh was also in the early lineup of this band (as bass and keyboard player), but left soon after. There wasn't an overly thriving club scene in Manchester at that time and we played primarily in area Chinese restaurant lounges. That was fairly short-lived for me. I continued to jam with some local musicians from time to time and in 1986 concentrated more on a career as a law enforcement officer.

I joined the Manchester NH Police Department in 1987 and by late 1988, had formed the band "Friends In Blue" with five other full-time officers. For this particular lineup, I played the bass guitar. Among the members was Bruce Ostrander, who's brother Brooke had played and recorded with a band called Wicked Lester.

Wicked Lester featured then unknown musicians Gene Klein (Gene Simmons) and Stanley Eisen (Paul Stanley) who would later form the band KISS immediately after dissolving Wicked Lester. Bruce was present for some of the early Lester gigs and rehearsals at the infamous third-floor "loft" at Canal and Mott Streets in the Chinatown section of New York City. Brooke is present throughout the first Wicked Lester album (which was never publically released) but had also recorded a 45 single with Gene Simmons called "Stanley The Parrot" at his apartment in New Jersey. This would later become the musical basis for the KISS song "Strutter".

The Friends In Blue band actively performed and toured throughout the greater New England area between 1989 and 1994 using rock music as a vehicle to promote anti-drug and alcohol messages to a primarily middle-school demographic. Shows consisted of many school assemblies, civic and public events, and just about everything in between. We received extensive local and national press coverage. Once Associated Press featured a syndicated article and picture of the band, we received requests to play from as far away as Kansas City.

What made this particular band unique was the fact that all members maintained full-time police assignments while continuing to meet hectic public appearance and touring schedules as well as several local and regional television appearances as well as radio interviews.

In June 1989, we entered the recording studio Star Trax (operated by local musician Bob Pratte) and professionally recorded a three-song cassette of all original music (produced and engineered by Brooke Ostrander). The lead song "Sending You A Message" (which was written by guitarist William Cavanaugh, received local radio airplay including Manchester's Rock 101 WGIR FM and local AM stations. WGIR also began airing a number of Public Service Announcements which were produced and recorded by Bruce Ostrander in his home.

Impromptu jams occurred with then NH Governor Stephen Merrill and William Bennett, drug czar under the first President Bush Administration. The band received special recognition from the NH Attorney General's Office, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), and a number of local agencies and civic organizations.

The early Nineties ...and moving forward

In 1991, Bruce Ostrander and I produced and recorded a demo of one of the first original songs I had written called "Why We Feel This Way" as we continued work with the police department band. Bruce went on to record a version of the song in late 2008. In 1995, I left law enforcement and went back to school to study Broadcast Journalism and Communications, later graduating from Connecticut School of Broadcasting in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts.

This was my first exposure to the digital editing world. I then became interested with advances in digital audio and digital video software and production. Shortly after developing FYEye Productions in 2002, I produced a number of videos for the United States Air Force.

Among them, an acclaimed documentary entitled: Granite Thunder 2004 which chronicled the preparation, training, and execution of a large-scale mock attack exercise involving approximately 300 Federal, State, local responders and volunteers at a remote Air Force Satellite Tracking facility in southern New Hampshire. The video was used as a local training aid to a number of agencies.

Having worked with digital media for a period of time up to this point, I began a renewed interest in producing home audio recordings of original music and performing as an acoustic solo musician. In 2008, I built upon the digital audio and video capabiities of FYEye Productions with the addition of an in-house full production studio and recording space where I hope to write and record many original songs in the coming years.

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