Jonathan King

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Jonathan King
King in 2007
BornKenneth George King
(1944-12-06) 6 December 1944 (age 70)
London, England
EducationM.A. (Cantab)
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
OccupationRecord producer, singer, songwriter, music entrepreneur, TV presenter, talent-spotter
Known forNovelty pop records, discovery of Genesis, owning label that released early 10cc hits, being an original backer of The Rocky Horror Show, presenter of Entertainment USA
AwardsBritish Phonographic Industry Man of the Year, 1997
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For other people named Jonathan King, see Jonathan King (disambiguation).
Jonathan King
King in 2007
BornKenneth George King
(1944-12-06) 6 December 1944 (age 70)
London, England
EducationM.A. (Cantab)
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
OccupationRecord producer, singer, songwriter, music entrepreneur, TV presenter, talent-spotter
Known forNovelty pop records, discovery of Genesis, owning label that released early 10cc hits, being an original backer of The Rocky Horror Show, presenter of Entertainment USA
AwardsBritish Phonographic Industry Man of the Year, 1997

Jonathan King (born Kenneth George King; 6 December 1944) is an English singer-songwriter, record producer, music entrepreneur, and former TV and radio presenter.

King first entered the music industry with his 1965 single "Everyone's Gone to the Moon", which reached no 4 in the UK and no 17 in the USA. He followed this with several record releases, of which four made the UK Singles Chart Top 10 in the 1970s. Many were "novelty" records credited to pseudonymous bands.

In parallel with his own recording career, in the late 1960s and 1970s King produced other acts. He discovered and named Genesis and he produced the Bay City Rollers' first single, among others, before founding his own record label, UK Records, in 1972.[1] A significant signing was 10cc who were with the label for their first hits. In the 1980s and 1990s King became more involved in media work and regularly appeared as a presenter of British television programmes including Entertainment USA.

King was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2001, after being found guilty of committing sexual offences against five boys aged 14 and 15 during the 1980s.[2][3] He was released on parole in 2005. King has always maintained that he is not guilty of the offences which led to his convictions.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

King was born in London and was the first child of an American-born father and English-born mother. His father was the managing director of a textile firm who died when King was nine.[5] The family had moved to Surrey, and King and his two brothers, James and Anthony, were raised in the village of Ewhurst near Dorking.[6] He was sent to Stoke House boarding school in Seaford, East Sussex, and later Charterhouse, in Godalming, Surrey, both private schools.[7]

While on a round-the-world trip between school and university, King met The Beatles and their manager, Brian Epstein, and was inspired by Epstein to pursue a career in the music industry.[8] King then studied at Trinity College, Cambridge and graduated in 1967[9] with a degree in English literature.[10]


Photograph by Allan Warren, 1969

Between 1965 and 1979, 18 of the singles released by King, and on which he performed, appeared in the Top 75 of the UK Singles Chart; five made the Top 10.[11] He was a producer on several others. Many were studio "novelty" records released either under his own name or under the name of a pseudonymous band or artiste.[12]

While he was an undergraduate, King wrote and recorded "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" with Decca Records. It reached number 4 in the UK charts and number 17 in America in 1965.[8][13] King also wrote, and produced for Decca, "It's Good News Week" by Hedgehoppers Anonymous, which, later in 1965, was a top five hit in the UK and reached number 50 in America.[13][14]

In 1967, shortly after leaving University, he was given his own television show, Good Evening; I'm Jonathan King, which ran for six months.[13][15] Around this time, King was recruited by Sir Edward Lewis, the founder of Decca Records, to be his personal assistant and "talent spotter".[16][17] He became Lewis's adviser on new pop music.[13]

In this role, in late 1967, King discovered, and signed for Decca,[a] the band that was to become Genesis.[13][19] During a visit to his old school, Charterhouse, a friend of one of the band members handed him a recording by the band who were pupils at the school.[20] King decided that he would be their record producer, choosing their name, Genesis, to mark the start of his production career.[21][22] He produced their first single, "The Silent Sun" (which the band subsequently described as a "Bee Gees pastiche"), and their first album, From Genesis to Revelation, which bears little resemblance to the band's later work.[18][23] Neither record made any impact, with the album selling only 650 copies.[24] Genesis parted with King after this and the band reshaped its music in the style that subsequently made it famous.[13][21] King still holds the rights to the first album and has re-released it several times under a variety of titles.[23] Genesis are said to have disowned the record and have been embarrassed by its re-release.[18] Nevertheless, bassist Mike Rutherford has commented that "for all his faults" King had given them an opportunity to record which was, at that time, hard to come by for an amateur band.[25]

King made a series of records, often as both producer and performer, which made the charts.[13] The most successful of these were "Loop di Love", credited pseudonymously as Shag, and "Johnny Reggae" as The Piglets, both of which made the Top 5 of the UK singles chart.[26][27] He had several hits under his own name including a version of the country song Hooked On A Feeling, which he turned into a pop track by adding a highly original intro.[28] This was covered by Swedish group Blue Swede in 1974, giving them a US Number One, which has frequently featured in shows and movies since then, including the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy (film). In 1971 King was asked by Bell Records to produce the first release for The Bay City Rollers, who had recently been signed by the label.[29] The resulting record, "Keep on Dancing", reached number 9 in the UK charts.[30]

In September 1972, King set up his own record label, UK Records,[31] which was initially distributed by Decca.[13] UK Records' most significant signing was 10cc[13] whom he also named.[32] The band made eight UK singles with the label, including "Donna" which reached number 2 in the UK charts and the number 1 "Rubber Bullets".[33][34] Although they also released four US singles[34] they failed to penetrate the American market.[33] 10cc left UK Records in 1975 for Mercury Records,[34] after which they achieved significant success in America.[33] Other signings to UK Records included Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs, Roy C, The First Class and Lobo, and it also acted as the vehicle for the release of King's own recordings.[35]

In 1973, King became one of the original backers of the The Rocky Horror Show.[5][13] After seeing it on its second night, he took a 20% stake in the show and produced the original cast album, created over one weekend and released on King's own music label.[5]

King had a top five hit in the UK in 1975 with his cover of the George Baker song "Una Paloma Blanca".[13][27] Between then and 1979 King had a further series of minor hits, performing either under his own name or as a pseudonymous band, the most successful of which was a cover of "It Only Takes A Minute" as One Hundred Ton and a Feather.[27] King closed UK Records in 1979 but has regularly re-released recordings from the UK Records' catalogue ever since.[35]

In April 1978, he stood for the United Kingdom Parliament as an independent in the Epsom and Ewell by-election, where he gained just over 5% of the vote and was not elected.[36][37]


King (left) with Jon Bon Jovi

In the 1980s, King moved away from working in the music industry and developed his career in other parts of the media.[26] During 1980 and 1981, King presented a daily talk show on New York's WMCA radio from 10–12 weekday mornings, and regularly reported from the U.S. on Top of the Pops. A spinoff series, Entertainment USA was broadcast on BBC2. He was associate producer of the youth TV show No Limits. He co-hosted the ITV programme Ultra Quiz during 1983. He wrote a page in The Sun for eight years called "Bizarre USA". He also wrote two novels, Bible Two and The Booker Prize Winner.[15] He continued some music projects, including the rock group "Gogmagog",[38] and hosted the BRIT Awards for the BBC in 1987.[39]

In the 1990s King's media work included producing the Great British Song Contest (the BBC quest for a Eurovision Song Contest entrant) in 1995, 1996 and 1997 - the winner of which, Katrina and The Waves - went on to win Eurovision later that year.[15] He also founded, in 1993, The Tip Sheet, a magazine promoting unknown and unsigned musical acts.[40] It closed in 2002 to be replaced by an online message board.[41] In 1997, he was awarded the British Phonographic Industry Man of the Year Award with a message of support from the then-prime minister Tony Blair for his "important contribution to one of this country's great success stories."[42]

From 2000 onwards[edit]

Conviction and aftermath[edit]

In 2000 King was investigated by police in relation to allegations of sexual offences committed against boys since the 1970s. The investigation had been prompted by one of his alleged victims contacting the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) in May that year, initially in relation to alleged offences committed by another celebrity. The complainant subsequently alleged that King had tried to assault him in the early 1970s when the complainant was a teenager. NCIS handed the investigation over to Surrey Police, who found a second complainant who made similar allegations. The police interviewed King in November, and he made an appearance on television denying "these absurd allegations". As a result of this appearance 27 men came forward to make similar allegations. Surrey Police subsequently revealed that their investigation, covering the years 1969 to 1989, had found that King had approached 10,000 to 20,000 boys ostensibly to question them for "research", which the police said was "a device to get to the boys and start speaking to them and grooming them for his purposes."[43][44]

The investigation led to King's prosecution, which, for "case management" purposes, was split between three trials at the Old Bailey.[2][3] King denied the charges but, in September 2001, he was found guilty, in the first of the trials, of four offences of indecent assault, one of buggery and one of attempted buggery against five boys aged 14 and 15 during the 1980s.[2][3] Two months later, he was sentenced to 7 years' imprisonment for those offences. In sentencing him, Judge David Paget, QC, said "You used your fame and success to attract adolescent and impressionable boys. You then abused the trust they and their parents placed in you."[10][45] Shortly before he was sentenced, King was acquitted in the second trial.[2][3] The prosecution had offered no further evidence after the alleged victim admitted during the trial that he was "probably 16" at the time of the alleged offences; the prosecution had been unable to prove that the sex was non-consensual.[b][3][10] The prosecution then dropped the charges in the third trial.[2]

King has always maintained that he is innocent of all the offences of which he was convicted or accused.[5] He has claimed that he is a victim of a miscarriage of justice brought about by an "incredibly unfair" legal system, the conduct of the press and police and "false allegations" generated as a result of media publicity.[47][48] Journalists Richard Stott and Lynn Barber wrote that he had been over-harshly treated, although neither believed him innocent of the charges.[2][49]

King served the first five months of his sentence in Belmarsh Prison, but was then sent to the "vulnerable prisoners" wing allocated to sex offenders and corrupt police officers at Maidstone Prison.[2] In 2003, the Court of Appeal rejected his application to hear an appeal of both the conviction and the sentence.[4] He was released on parole in March 2005.[50] He appealed his case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the European Court of Human Rights, but without success.[5][51][52] King remains on the Sex Offenders Register and is prohibited from working with anyone under the age of 18.[5]

King has maintained an interest in prison issues by continuing to write a monthly column for Inside Time, the national newspaper for prisoners, which he began writing while he was in prison.[53][54][55] In October 2011, then BBC Director-General Mark Thompson apologised to Jonathan King, following the removal of King's performance of "It Only Takes a Minute" from a 1976 episode of Top of the Pops that was repeated on BBC Four.[56]

Creative output since release[edit]

Since his release from prison, King has not worked in the mainstream media and has been limited to self-producing feature films and LPs, and self-publishing books for online distribution.[57] His creative output has been described as being, at times, "a primal scream of rage".[5] In July 2007, King posted a video on YouTube of a song entitled "The True Story of Harold Shipman", which claimed that serial killer Harold Shipman had been a victim of the media.[58] The song provoked an angry response from the relatives of Shipman's victims.[59]

In May 2008, King posted for free download on the internet his 96-minute film, Vile Pervert: The Musical.[57] King is the only actor in the movie and portrays 21 different roles. The Telegraph described it as an attempted justification of the events that led to his conviction and a "bizarre home-made film" about a television celebrity who was subjected to "malicious abuse allegations, in a fictional case that King clearly intends to represent his own demise".[60] The Spectator's Rod Liddle called it "a fantastically berserk, bravado performance".[61]

King has also self-published an autobiography and a novel,[57] and made two other films, Me Me Me (2011)[62][63] and The Pink Marble Egg (2013).[64] King says that he has made "no money" from his internet films.[57]


Chart singles[edit]

Credited as performer[edit]

(UK except where stated)
1965"Everyone's Gone to the Moon"41744Decca (US: Parrot)
1966"Just Like a Woman"--21Decca
1966"Where The Sun Has Never Shone"-97-(US: Parrot)
1970"Let It All Hang Out"26--Decca
1971"Lazy Bones"23--Decca
1971"Hooked on a Feeling"23--Decca
1975"Una Paloma Blanca (White Dove)"5--UK
1978"One for You, One for Me"29--GTO
1979"You're the Greatest Lover"67--UK International


YearTitleUK[11]Credited toLabel
1971"It's the Same Old Song"19WeathermenB&C
1971"Sugar Sugar"12SakkarinRCA
1971"Johnny Reggae"3The PigletsBell
1972"Loop di Love"4ShagUK
1974"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"29BubblerockUK
1975"Chick-a-Boom (Don't Ya Jes Love It)"3653rd and 3rd featuring the Sound of ShagUK
1976"In the Mood"46Sound 9418UK
1976"It Only Takes a Minute"9One Hundred Ton and a FeatherUK
1978"Lick A Smurp for Christmas (All Fall Down)"58Father Abraphart and The SmurpsMagnet


  1. ^ King signed the band to his own publishing company, but then immediately licensed the rights to Decca Records.[18]
  2. ^ At the time the offences were alleged to have been committed, the applicable legislation was the Sexual Offences Act 1967. Homosexual sex with a male under 21 was a criminal offence whether or not there was consent. However, if it was consensual and the alleged victim was 16 or over, he had to make a complaint within a year of the offence for a prosecution to succeed. In King's case, the alleged victim had brought the complaint 23 years after the alleged offence.[3][10][46]


  1. ^ "Billboard". Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Barber, Lynn (20 October 2002). "King and I". The Observer (London).
  3. ^ a b c d e f Ronson, Jon (1 December 2001). "The fall of a pop impresario". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ a b ""King loses appeal bid"". Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Chalmers, Robert (22 April 2012). "Jonathan King: 'The only apology I have is to say that I was good at seduction'". The Independent on Sunday (London). 
  6. ^ King, Jonathan. "King of Hits". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  7. ^ For the brothers' names, see 65 My Life So Far, p. 6 and p. 10. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  8. ^ a b "The rise and fall of a pop tsar". The Guardian (London). Press Association. 29 March 2005. 
  9. ^ Frayn, Michael (4 June 1967). "Return to Paradise". The Observer (London). p. 17. Mr King, who has been reading English at Trinity in odd moments during the last three years, writes professional pop songs, and sometimes sings them. 
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  22. ^ Cohen, Claire (4 June 2009). "The Boll Weevils, the Beatals, The Arkansas Rollers - Now that's what I call music". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 11 June 2010. ,
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  25. ^ Mike Rutherford interviewed by Dan Neer (1985). Mike on Mike (Vinyl, 12" Promo interview recording). Atlantic Recording Corporation. Retrieved 22 January 2014. Jonathan King, for all his faults - he has a funny reputation in England - did give us a fantastic opportunity. Because in those days, in England, you couldn't get in the studio. I mean, now a new group can very easily get a chance to go and record a single, just something, you know, to show there's something going for them. In those days, to get any sort of record contract, was really magical. And he gave us a chance to do a whole record. You've got a bunch of musicians who were really amateur, could barely play well, were barely a group, and were able to go in one summer holiday and make a record. 
  26. ^ a b "Who is Jonathan King?". The Guardian. 24 November 2000. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  27. ^ a b c Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 429. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 
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  29. ^ Coy, Wayne (2005). Bay City Babylon: The Unbelievable But True Story of the Bay City Rollers. pp. 23–24. ISBN 1587364638. 
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  39. ^ "Brit Awards 1987". Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
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  42. ^ Burrell, Ian (24 October 1997). "Blair goes loop di love over King". The Independent (London). Next week, the pop pundit is to be honoured as "Man of the Year" by the British Phonographic Industry, the umbrella organisation representing the music business. ... The choice has attracted considerable murmurings of disapproval, not surprising in view of Mr King's deliberate cultivation of an image as "the man they love to hate" in British music. But the Prime Minister is not among the critics. He has written to King to congratulate him. Mr Blair gushes: "You have made an important contribution to one of this country's great success stories and this award is very well deserved." Mr Blair signs off his letter in appropriately poptastic language: "I look forward to your continuing determination to ensure that Great Britain means Great Music." 
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