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John Altman

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Biography of John Altman

JOHN ALTMAN John Altman's name might not be instantly recognisable as one of the world's greatest composers, arrangers or musicians, but his music is known to millions around the world. He is the man behind 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' and an array of other well known classics. During his career John has worked with some of the greatest names in the music industry including; Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, and Goldie.

He has composed or arranged the music for over 4,000 commercials, numerous films (Titanic) and television shows (Peak Practice) and won several awards, including an EMMY. John is currently hosting the successful 10 Rooms night on Monday evenings in London's West End and has completed an album 'Sure Thing' with his internationally acclaimed big band. The album is due for release on 4th February 2002.

John is an accomplished player of the saxophone, flute and clarinet. Whilst studying at Sussex University John was involved in session work and gigs with artists including; Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix and Nico and he had the thrill of Muddy Waters playing at his 21st birthday party. John went on to study for a PHD at Birkbeck College but had to cut his studies short in 1975 when he joined 'Hot Chocolate' as their stage show Musical Director for two years.

In 1975 John was invited to a Monty Python session. After this first meeting, John developed a strong friendship with Neil Innes and the Python gang. John's reputation in the music industry resulted in an invitation for him to write all the arrangements for the Python's cult Rutles television special. Following this success, John was asked to work on the music for 'The Life of Brian' which led to the creation of 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' in 1979, written by Eric Idle, produced by George Harrison and arranged, conducted and partly whistled by John! During this period, John also played with Jimmy Page and Van Morrison, amongst others. The working relationship with Van Morrison developed and from 1978 John acted as his Arranger/Musical Director and saxophonist until mid 1980. John re-arranged all of Van Morrison's major hits for his stage shows and future recordings, including the classic song 'Moon Dance'.

In 1980 John was reunited with the Python crew and acted as the Musical Director on 'The Secret Policeman's Ball', a charity show in aid of Amnesty International. The event was so successful that in 1982 another concert was organised by John and Sting, this time with a stronger emphasis on musical performances. Held at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, a super group was formed called 'The Secret Police' which included Sting, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Bob Geldof. This was the first time that such a concert had been arranged and most certainly provided the inspiration for Live Aid three years later. Over a million pounds was raised, the event was televised and the album raced into the top 30.

The 1980's saw John heavily involved with conducting and orchestrating for various composers. He worked on several platinum albums including George Michael's, 'Faith' (1988), Simple Minds, 'Streetfighting Years' (1989) and various singles for Tom Jones, Diana Ross and Rod Stewart (his comeback hit 'Downtown Train'). John also arranged the score for Alison Moyet's number 1 hit, 'That Ole Devil Called Love' (1985) and arranged, conducted and produced Aled Jones' Christmas number one hit, 'Walking in the Air' (1984). John continued to work with a host of well known stars and in 1995 joined forces with Bjork on her number one hit 'It's Oh So Quiet', which also featured John's 18 piece Big Band.

In 1996 John worked on the title track on Tina Turner's album 'Wildest Dreams' and recorded two tracks for Chrissie Hynde for the Ridley Scott film GI Jane. John's versatile talents were demonstrated once again in 1997 when he worked on Goldie's album 'Saturnz Returnz' released by London Records. John continued to work with Goldie writing the arrangements for further album tracks and a single.

To date John has worked on 12 Platinum albums by various artists. John's successful career has seen him working on the music for over 4,000 international commercials. He has worked on practically every car and drinks commercial, and award winning campaigns for John Smiths, Pontins Holidays, Harvester, the 'It's for you' British Telecom campaign, and is responsible for the catchy tune on the 'You can do it, if you B & Q it' ads. John has recently worked on the new Levi's advert and the new Christmas McDonalds commercial. Major television credits include 'Berkeley Square' (BBC, 1998), 'Drover's Gold' (BBC, 1997), 'A Royal Scandal (BBC, 1996), 'Tears Before Bedtime' (BBC, 1995), 'The Miss Marple' series (BBC, 1985-6) and 'Old Devils' (BBC, 1991) for which John received a BAFTA nomination for Best TV Score. John also won the Television & Radio Industry Award for the Best TV Score for the title music on 'Peak Practice' in 1993.

Film music has also featured heavily in John's career. Last year, John's talent won him the 2000 EMMY and ASCAP Award for his outstanding score for RKO 281 starring John Malkovich. In 1992 John also won the Anthony Asquith Award for Best Score and a BAFTA nomination for the British film 'Hear my Song'. In 1991, John became the first Western composer to score a Russian movie. Further credits include the hit movie 'Little Voice' starring Jane Horrocks (1998), Goldeneye (1995), Titanic (1997), plus the cult favourites 'Beautiful Thing' (1996), 'Bhaji on the Beach' (1993) 'Funny Bones' (1995) and The Lost Empire (2001). John's most recent project was to provide the music for Fidel, which is due to be released later this year. John has spent a lot of time working in America and is responsible for bringing the current club trends to London. After playing at the China Club in LA, John was impressed by their set-up of sport, film and television stars abandoning their traditional roles and 'jamming' together. John bought this concept back to London and introduced it to the 10 Rooms in London's West End. His 'by invitation only' Monday nights began two years ago and won the Time Out Club Night of the Year award in 2000 and has been nominated again this year. Audley Harrison is also a fan and announced that it "is the coolest night in London". Performers have been as diverse as R Kelly, Atomic Kitten, Back Street Boys - Mark Butcher even drove down from Leeds after leading England to victory in the 4th Test Match against Australia to sing with John. The event attracts London's hippest crowd and regular guests include Samuel L Jackson, Mark Wahlberg, Dave Matthews, Lennox Lewis and many other sporting, television and film personalities.
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