Who is John Tucker?
I began writing about music in 1981, at the height of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. I was about 19 at the time. I was buying a lot of Neat Records’ and Heavy Metal Records’ releases and thought they needed to be brought to a wider audience. So I wrote an irregular metal music column for the in-house magazine at Swansea University, and then began to submit articles to an American fanzine ‘Metal Rendez-Vous’.
Moving to London in 1983, I began contributing (both as writer and photographer) to a number of fanzines such as ‘Forearm Smash’ and ‘Marshall Stack’ in the UK, ‘Rock Brigade’ (Brazil), ‘Sagritura Escritura’ (Portugal), as well as being the main UK contributor to the re-launched and expanded ‘Metal Rendez-Vous’. I convinced Neat Records that they needed a promotional magazine and thereby created and wrote ‘Lead Weight’ for them. I signed up to ‘Marshall Stack’ full-time and when it folded created and published ‘Stack Attack’ from its ashes. Around this time I became a regular contributor to the Deep Purple Appreciation Society magazine ‘Darker Than Blue’ which I’ve continued to this day. I founded and ran the Queensryche UK, Blitzkrieg, and Hellion Fan Clubs, and also managed metal band Playn Crazy for the duration of their lifespan.
I relocated to Bristol and joined the rat-race, although turned in occasional music articles here and there. I became a professional portrait photographer with my own company in 1999 and, as I’d missed shooting live bands, I incorporated this as a side-line.
I’d kept in touch with Neat Records off-and-on, and had submitted a suggestion to issue all the label’s singles on three CDs, complete with track listings and booklet notes. My idea didn’t get very far, but when the Neat back catalogue was bought up by Sanctuary Records the Special Markets team came across this proposal and got in touch. As a result, I began at first just writing CD re-issue booklet notes and then got more involved in compiling the CDs themselves. At this point I realised how much I’d missed writing about metal.
I started writing my first book ‘Suzie Smiled… The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’ in August 2003; this was published by Independent Music Press in June 2006. During downtime waiting for comments on the manuscript, I contacted Bruce Mee at Fireworks (the UK’s foremost melodic rock magazine) and began contributing occasional articles, just to keep my hand in; to this day I still contribute, as well as Spain's 'This Is Rock' magazine and submitting odd features to the Sonic Cathedral webzine. Work on my second book, a collaboration with Saxon’s Biff Byford entitled ‘Never Surrender (Or Nearly Good Looking) – An Autobiography by Biff Byford And John Tucker’ commenced in January 2006 and was published by Iron Pages in April 2007.
In the middle of all of this, sometime in 2005 I joined up with the ProgPower UK team to help out with some press and public relations support, in particular interviewing all the bands and writing the event programme. “Even the programme is superior to the shoddy ‘press release and big pix’ approach taken by some festivals, being a glossy 48-page magazine for which Bristol-based music journalist John Tucker has interviewed all the bands,” noted ‘Venue’ magazine in March 2006 (or as one enthusiastic punter put it, “a proper old-school programme like you used to get in the Eighties!”).
Although the festival folded in 2007, I am very proud of being a part of the UK’s only real indoor power and progressive metal festival. And if that wasn’t enough, I re-launched band photography with a location shoot for Threshold in October 2006 for their first album for Nuclear Blast, ‘Dead Reckoning’, having already shot their website live gallery ProgPower UK 2006 set.
After a couple of abortive projects in 2008 including the untimely demise of ProgPower UK, and pausing only to pontificate about the NWOBHM on the Chrome Dreams DVD 'Iron Maiden And The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal', 2009 saw me hooking up both with the British Steel Festival to write that year's official festival programme, and alsowoking with Brian Tatler on his autobiography 'Am I Evil? - The Music, The Myths And Metallica'. This was published in November 2009 as a hardback, limited to 500 copies.
And there’s more to come – I’ve got hundreds of ideas here: I just need the time to work them all up! So, despite a popular but trashy 2006 film declaring ‘John Tucker Must Die’, I’m not dead yet!