Jonathan King

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Jonathan King
King in 2007
Born Kenneth George King
(1944-12-06) 6 December 1944 (age 74)
London, England
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Occupation Record producer, singer, songwriter, music entrepreneur, TV presenter, talent-spotter
Known for 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
Notable work Everyone's Gone to the Moon; It's Good News Week; Johnny Reggae; Una Paloma Blanca
Awards British 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 entered the music industry with his 1965 single "Everyone's Gone to the Moon", which was a hit. He followed this with more record releases of which several made the charts in the 1960s and 1970s.

King also worked with other acts. He discovered and named Genesis. He produced the Bay City Rollers' first hit. He started the record label UK Records in 1972.[1] An early signing was 10cc whom he named and who released their product with the label. In the 1980s King increased his media work and appeared as a presenter of British television programmes including Entertainment USA.

King was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2001 for sexually abusing five boys, aged 14 and 15, in the 1980s.[2][3]

Early life and education

King was born in London of an American-born father and English-born mother. His father, a company managing director, died when King was nine.[4] The family had moved to Surrey, and King and his two brothers, James and Anthony, were raised in the village of Ewhurst near Dorking.[5] He attended Stoke House boarding school in Seaford, East Sussex, and later Charterhouse, in Godalming, Surrey, both private schools.[6]

On a trip around the world, King met the manager of The Beatles, Brian Epstein in Hawaii. He was encouraged by Epstein to pursue a career in the music industry.[7] He had earlier been recorded by producer Joe Meek but those tracks were never released. King studied at Trinity College, Cambridge.


Photograph by Allan Warren, 1969

Between 1965 and 1979, 18 of the singles released by King, on which he performed, appeared in the Top 75 of the UK Singles Chart; five made the Top 10.[8] He was the producer on several others. Some were studio "novelty" records released under his own name or as a pseudonymous band or artiste.[9]

Whilst still an undergraduate, King wrote and sang "Everyone's Gone to the Moon", released through Decca Records. It reached the top of the UK charts [7][10] It sold over five million copies and was later awarded a gold disc.[11] He wrote and produced "It's Good News Week" by Hedgehoppers Anonymous, which, later in 1965, was also a hit in the UK and reached the top 50 in America.[10][12]

In 1967, after leaving University, he presented a television show on ITV, Good Evening; I'm Jonathan King. It ran for six months on Saturday evenings.[10][13] Around this time, King was recruited by Sir Edward Lewis, the founder of Decca Records, to be his personal assistant.[14][15]

In 1967, King discovered and signed,[lower-alpha 1] the band that was to become Genesis.[10][17] During a visit to his old school, Charterhouse, a friend of one of the band members handed him a recording by the band, whose members were pupils at the school.[18] King decided that he would be the band's record producer, choosing its name, Genesis, to mark the start of his production career.[19][20] He produced its first single, "The Silent Sun" (which the band subsequently described as a "Bee Gees pastiche"), and its first album, From Genesis to Revelation, which bears little resemblance to the band's later work.[16][21] Neither record made any impact, with the album selling only 650 copies.[22] Genesis parted with King after this and the band gradually reshaped its music in the style that subsequently made it famous.[10][19] King still holds the rights to the first album and has re-released it several times under a variety of titles.[21] Genesis is said to have disowned the record and have been embarrassed by its re-release.[16] Nevertheless, bassist Mike Rutherford has commented that "for all his faults" King had given the band an opportunity to record which was, at that time, hard to come by for an amateur band.[23] [24]

King released records, as producer, writer, label boss and performer, several of which made the charts.[10] Examples of these were "Loop di Love", credited pseudonymously as Shag, and "Johnny Reggae" as The Piglets.[25][26] He recorded the country song Hooked On A Feeling and turned it into a pop track by adding an unusual intro. This was covered by Swedish group Blue Swede in 1974, giving them a US Number One, which has featured in shows and movies since then, including the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy (film)[27] In 1971 King produced the Bay City Rollers and gave them their first hit. [28] The single "Keep on Dancing", reached number 9 in the UK charts.[29]

In September 1972, King set up the record label UK Records,[30] initially distributed by Decca.[10] UK Records' most significant signing was 10cc[10][31] The band made eight UK singles with the label, including "Donna" and "Rubber Bullets".[32][33] Although the band also released four US singles[33] it failed to penetrate the American market.[32] 10cc left UK Records in 1975 for Mercury Records,[33] after which it achieved success in America.[32] Other signings to UK Records included Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs, Roy C, The First Class and Lobo, and it also released King's own recordings.[34]

In 1973, King became one of the original backers of the The Rocky Horror Show.[4][10] After seeing it on its second night, he took a 20% stake in the show and produced the original cast album, released on King's music label.[4]

King closed UK Records in 1979 but has regularly re-released recordings from the UK Records catalogue.[34]

In April 1978, he stood for the United Kingdom Parliament as an independent in the Epsom and Ewell by-election, where he gained over 5% of the vote and was not elected.[35][36]


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.[25] 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 weekly page in The Sun for eight years called "Bizarre USA". He also wrote two novels, Bible Two and The Booker Prize Winner.[13] He continued some music projects, including the rock group "Gogmagog",[37] and hosted the Brit Awards for the BBC in 1987.[38] He then produced the event from 1990 to 1992.[39][40][41]

King's media work included producing the BBC quest for a Eurovision Song Contest entrant from 1995.[13] Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit, the UK's entrant in 1996, performed by Australian singer Gina G, was a number one single in the UK, and came eighth in the competition.[42] The UK won in 1997 with Love Shine A Light performed by Katrina and the Waves.[43] He also founded, in 1993, The Tip Sheet, a magazine promoting unsigned musical acts.[44] It stopped printing in 2002 to be replaced by an online version.[45] 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."[46]


In 2000 King was investigated by police about allegations of sexual offences committed against boys since the 1960s. The investigation had been prompted by one of his alleged victims contacting the publicist Max Clifford, who advised him to contact the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) in May that year, initially in relation to alleged offences committed by another celebrity. [47]The complainant subsequently alleged that King had assaulted 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 went on television denying "these absurd allegations". As a result of this appearance other men came forward to make similar allegations. Surrey Police claimed 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."[48][49]

The investigation led to King's prosecution which was split between several 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] 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."[50][51] The Judge ordered the remaining charges dropped and sentenced him to 7 years' imprisonment for the offences in the first trial as a sample for all charges.

He was found not guilty in a second trial two months later. The prosecution offered no further evidence when the alleged victim admitted during the trial that he was "probably over 16" at the time of the alleged offences. The prosecution failed to prove that any sex was non-consensual.[lower-alpha 2][3][50] The defence position was that King had never met the man. The prosecution dropped the charges in a third trial.[2]

King has always maintained that he is innocent of all the offences of which he was convicted.[4] He claims 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.[53][54] Journalists Richard Stott and Lynn Barber wrote that he had been over-harshly treated, although neither believed him innocent of the charges.[2][55][56]

King served the first five months of his sentence in Belmarsh Prison, but was then sent to Maidstone Prison.[2] In 2003, the Court of Appeal rejected his application to hear an appeal of both the conviction and the sentence.[57] He was released on parole in March 2005.[58] He appealed his case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the European Court of Human Rights, but without success.[4][59][60] King remains on the Sex Offenders Register and is prohibited from working with anyone under the age of 18.[4]

2010 onwards

King has maintained an interest in prison issues and, since his release, has continued to write a column for Inside Time, the national newspaper for prisoners, which he began writing while he was in prison.[61][62][63] 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.[64]

Since his release from prison, King has produced several films, albums, and books.[65] His creative output has been described as being, at times, "a primal scream of rage".[4] In July 2007, King posted a video on YouTube, from his movie Vile Pervert: The Musical, of a song entitled "The True Story of Harold Shipman", which suggested that serial killer Harold Shipman had been a victim of the media.[66] The song provoked an angry response from the relatives of Shipman's victims.[67]

In May 2008, King posted for free download on the internet his 96-minute film, Vile Pervert: The Musical.[65] 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".[68] The Spectator's Rod Liddle called it "a fantastically berserk, bravado performance".[69]

King also published two volumes of autobiography, 65 My Life So Far and 70 FFFY[70] and two novels, Beware The Monkey Man and Death Flies, Missing Girls and Brigitte Bardot, and he has produced two films, Me Me Me (2011)[71][72] and The Pink Marble Egg (2013).[73] King says that he has made no money from his internet films.

In August 2015 The Spectator published an article by King about former Prime Minister Edward Heath.[74]

On 9 September 2015, it was reported that King had been arrested as part of Operation Ravine, an investigation relating to claims of child sexual abuse at the Walton Hop Disco in the 1970s and 1980s.[75]


Chart singles

Credited as performer

Year Title UK[26] US[76] AU[77] Label
(UK except where stated)
1965 "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" 4 17 44 Decca (US: Parrot)
1966 "Just Like a Woman" - - 21 Decca
1966 "Where The Sun Has Never Shone" - 97 - (US: Parrot)
1967 "Seagulls" - - 64 Decca
1970 "Let It All Hang Out" 26 - - Decca
1971 "Lazy Bones" 23 - - Decca
1971 "Hooked on a Feeling" 23 - - Decca
1972 "Flirt!" 22 - - 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
1979 "Gloria" 65 - - Ariola

Uncredited performer

Year Title UK[26] Credited to Label
1971 "It's the Same Old Song" 19 Weathermen B&C
1971 "Sugar Sugar" 12 Sakkarin RCA
1972 "Loop di Love" 4 Shag UK
1974 "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" 29 Bubblerock UK
1975 "Chick-a-Boom (Don't Ya Jes Love It)" 36 53rd and 3rd featuring the Sound of Shag UK
1976 "In the Mood" 46 Sound 9418 UK
1976 "It Only Takes a Minute" 9 One Hundred Ton and a Feather UK
1978 "Lick A Smurp for Christmas (All Fall Down)" 58 Father Abraphart and The Smurps Magnet

Other productions

Year Title UK[26] Credited to Label
1965 "It's Good News Week" 4 Hedgehoppers Anonymous Decca
1971 "Leap Up and Down (Wave Your Knickers in the Air)" 12 St Cecilia Polydor
1971 "Keep On Dancing" 9 The Bay City Rollers Bell
1971 "Johnny Reggae" 3 The Piglets Bell
1972 "Don't Let Him Touch You" 35 The Angelettes Decca
1990 "The Brits 1990 Dance Medley" 2 Various Artists RCA

See also


  1. King signed the band to his own publishing company and licensed the rights to Decca Records.[16]
  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][50][52]


  1. Billboard. 9 September 1972. Retrieved 27 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Barber, Lynn (20 October 2002). "King and I". The Observer (London).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Ronson, Jon (1 December 2001). "The fall of a pop impresario". The Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. King, Jonathan. "King of Hits". Retrieved 12 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. For the brothers' names, see 65 My Life So Far, p. 6 and p. 10. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
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  11. Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 192. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  23. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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