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John Ford
Born (1948-07-01) 1 July 1948 (age 74)
Fulham, London, England
  • Bass guitar
  • guitar
  • vocals
Years active1960s–present
Formerly of
WebsiteJohn Ford of the Strawbs on Facebook

John Ford (born 1 July 1948) is an English musician. He relocated to the United States in the mid-1980s and now resides on the North Shore of Long Island, New York.

Ford has toured and played with musicians such as Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore, The Eagles, Frank Zappa, Marc Bolan/T. Rex, Blue Öyster Cult, ZZ Top, RUSH, REO Speedwagon, Steppenwolf, King Crimson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Billy Preston, Cat Stevens, Roy Harper and Dave Mason. His versatility has let him play a wide range of venues from folk clubs to large scale international rock venues.


Ford was born in the South West London district of Fulham and grew up in a household where his father played piano and his four sisters were singers. Ford went to a Church of England school, where church attendance was mandatory, and began singing there. When he was very young, his grandmother bought him a ukulele, then he got an Emenee toy Elvis Presley guitar and a guitar book; by the time he was 9, he had learned several chords. When he was 14, his father bought him a Höfner 500/1 bass, a guitar that was particularly popular at the time because it was used by Paul McCartney. Ford’s two idols were McCartney and Lonnie Donegan; Ford was most inspired by McCartney’s ‘popping’ bass on The Beatles’ "With a Little Help from My Friends" and used that same technique throughout his career.[1]

In 1964, Ford joined with some school mates to form a band called Jaymes Fenda and the Vulcans. That November, they released two singles, "Mistletoe Love” and "The Only Girl", both of which were written by Ford. "Mistletoe Love" got some radio play through that Christmas season, but the band split up shortly afterwards.

In October 1966, Ford stepped in to replace the bass player of a South London R&B/soul band called the Five Proud Walkers, and made his debut when the band opened for Champion Jack Dupree. The Five Proud Walkers was a popular club band and played a constant stream of gigs in and around London. But, in the spring of 1967, they toured England with Pink Floyd and decided to make the shift to Psychedelic music. That July, they changed their name to Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera. The band released three albums and several singles but, in May 1970, Ford and drummer Richard Hudson left the band to join The Strawbs.[2][3]

Ford's influence on the band, primarily known as a folk rock group, shifted them into a new direction in the progressive / art rock scene. Ford penned songs such as "Heavy Disguise" and "Part of the Union", Strawbs' biggest chart hit, whilst working with David Bowie/T. Rex producer Tony Visconti on A&M Records. Ford reieved an Ivor Novello Award for "Part of the Union".

Ford received three gold discs, and a platinum disc. A few years later, Ford and Richard Hudson formed Hudson Ford, signed to A&M, and released the UK Singles Chart hits "Pick Up The Pieces", "Burn Baby Burn" and "Floating in the Wind" and three albums - Nickelodeon, Free Spirit and Worlds Collide. They then moved to CBS Records for the Daylight album.

In 1979, Ford hit the charts again with The Monks, a punk project of sorts also picked up by EMI, with the surprise novelty double platinum hit, "Nice Legs Shame About the Face" from Bad Habits and "Suspended Animation". Ford also developed an alter ego in High Society with 1930s-style melodies, releasing a self-titled album in 1984. In 1986, Ford relocated to the U.S., and started working on his solo project and concerts.

Ford teamed up again with Strawbs for the 30 Year Reunion Tour in 1998, performing as bass guitarist and vocalist, after a hiatus since the late 1980s, and again for the 2001 Strawbs' UK Spring Tour. In between, in 1999, Ford played on Ritchie Blackmore's band Blackmore's Night release Under a Violet Moon, their second international release, which featured Ford on "Wind in the Willows". He also played some shows with the band.

In January 2004, Ford opened for Dave Mason at a Long Island concert venue, The Downtown the was located in Farmingdale, New York.

July 2004's Strawbs Summer UK Electric Tour, featured Ford on bass and vocals with the original UK electric line up from the 1970s. Some of his live performances can be viewed on DVD, on Strawbs Live in Tokyo and The Complete Strawbs – Live at Chiswick House.

March 2006, Ford returned to UK for another Strawbs Electric Tour filmed and recorded for Lay Down with The Strawbs DVD/CD, featuring John Ford leading on "Part of the Union".

In September 2009, John Ford joined Strawbs for their 40th Anniversary Weekend at Twickenham Rugby Stadium, London, which included keyboardist Rick Wakeman. The Live CD release for the event, Strawbs 40th Anniversary Celebration Vol. 1: Strawberry Fayre released in 2010, features John Ford on two of his songs, "Together Apart" and "Floating in the Wind".

Ford appears on Lay Down with the Strawbs the 2006 Strawbs UK Electric Tour features John Ford on "Kissed by the Sun", "Heavy Disguise" and "Part of the Union".

April 2011 marked the release of John Ford's latest album, Resurrected – The Best of and Then Some, a chronological collection of some of Ford's solo material, in addition to five newly recorded songs.

2012 brought Ford, as founding member of The Monks, a Double Platinum Record Award from EMI for Bad Habits whilst in Toronto, Canada in July, for a special Monks BAD HABITS Tribute show at the well-known Horseshoe Tavern. The Monks' Tribute show featured numerous members of top Canadian bands – including Sloan, The New Pornographers, C'mon, Cursed, and Small Sins – with Thomas D'Arcy at the helm, producing the tribute show. D'Arcy also put together the Bad Habits tribute album, on which Ford is featured. Plans are under way for Bad Habits going the route of Green Day's American Idiot stage musical as a one-act, British punk rock opera production.

John Ford just completed two new Halloween songs – "Halloween – I'm The Nightmare in Your Dreams Club Mix" for the Space Drama pop, electronica dance project with, and rocking, "Halloween – There's A Party Going On" with Ian Lloyd of Stories, for the Ford-Lloyd project. Ian Lloyd is best known as lead singer for No. 1 hit "Brother Louie" and founding member of Stories band. Lloyd sings the theme song for Louis C.K.'s comedy on FXLouie.


Jaymes Fenda and the Vulcans

Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera






The Monks


High Society





Compilation inclusions


  1. ^ Preston, Mark. "John Ford Interview". Know Your Bass Player. Retrieved 28 February 2022 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ Warburton, Nick. "The Five Proud Walkers, Nov 2018". Garage Hangover. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  3. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Biography: The Strawbs". AMG. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
  4. ^ "Jaymes Fenda And The Vulcans – Mistletoe Love". Discogs. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  5. ^ "Various – Ready, Steady - Win!". Discogs. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  6. ^ "Velvet Opera – Ride A Hustler's Dream". Discogs. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  7. ^ "Elmer Gantry & Velvet Opera* – The Very Best Of". Discogs. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  8. ^ "Strawbs – Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios (Live At The Queen Elizabeth Hall)". Discogs. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  9. ^ "Strawbs – From The Witchwood". Discogs. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  10. ^ "Strawbs - Grave New World". Discogs. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  11. ^ "Strawbs – Bursting At The Seams". Discogs. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  12. ^ "Strawbs – Stereo Pop Special-40". Discogs. Retrieved 26 February 2022.