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Music man celebrates top 10 years in studio

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: October 23, 2008

  • MIXING DESK: John working with Shakin' Stevens in the studio.

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IN recent years there have been regular sightings of Shakin' Stevens and Status Quo in Berry Hill, transforming the village into a celebrity hotspot.

Top stars, as well as local choirs and musicians, have been flocking to Berry Hill Studio for the past 10 years to work with Welsh legend John David.

Shaky has worked exclusively with John ever since he went to the record producer's former home studio in Monmouth to make his Christmas album in 1991.

Since then, John has written many songs for the 'Welsh Elvis'.

They may not have been massive hits in fickle Britain but in Romania Shaky recently played in front of 290,000 people.

In 1998, John and his wife Glynis bought the former Tanyards tannery overlooking Joyford and set about converting it into a studio.

Later, he added an extension so musicians could stay over.

John said: "Shaky keeps coming back. Berry Hill is almost his second home."

The Quo's Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi spent time in the studio writing their latest two singles with John.

"I don't publicise the arrival of pop stars because I don't want autograph-hunters and fans interrupting us," said John.

"After all, the musicians are here to work."

John was only a teenager living near Cardiff when he hit the charts with the classical rock band Love Sculpture.

The fast-paced instrumental Sabre Dance, on which John played bass guitar, turned out to be a one-hit wonder in 1968.

However, it forged careers for both Cardiff guitarist and singer Dave Edmunds and John, who learnt his producer craft alongside Edmunds at Rockfield Studio, near Monmouth.

He produced Edmunds' latest album but John's days of touring the world with his band are over.

John said: "Now I'm here in the Forest of Dean I don't want to leave.

"By the early 90s, I'd be touring with Dave and I'd be thinking as I got on yet another plane, 'oh no, not again!'

"I love to be able to just walk into the woods and sit there in silence and watch the wildlife."

As well as co-running his own record label Javelin, producing albums by everyone from the Forest of Dean Male Voice Choir, former royal harpist Jemima Phillips, who lives in St Briavels. and his guitar-playing son Ben Williams, John is a prolific songwriter. After Ivor Novello, he is the most-recorded Welsh songwriter in history.

For a time, John lived in Nashville, Tennessee, writing songs for country legends such as Emmylou Harris and Phil Everly. His song She Means Nothing To Me was picked up by Cliff Richard after being recorded by the Everly brother.

But John still hasn't achieved his main ambition – to have a number one hit single.

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