The Three Johns were formed in 1981, in the wake of the Charles and Di wedding celebrations. The band originally comprised John Hyatt (vocals), Jon Langford (Guitar), and John Diamond (Drums). Hyatt and Diamond had previously played together in Another Colour, whilst Langford had already been recording with the mekons, a band with whom he has been playing with for nigh on thirty years now.
In 1982, John Diamond left due to work commitments. After his departure the other two recruited bass player Phillip Brennan, who had experienced some minor local success fronting 25 Rifles, and a drum machine, which they christened Hugo. Brennan changed his name to John to avoid any confusions. The band's socialist beliefs were laid bare with the release, in 1982, of "English White Boy Engineer", their debut single, an attack on South Africa's apartheid system. This song was followed by "Pink Headed Bug"; an excellent, neo-psychedelic pop song, which sported an equally fine B-side, "Lucy In The Rain". 1983 saw two further singles; "Men Like Monkeys" and "AWOL", before constant gigging paved way for a 1984 appearance on The Tube, and the release of their debut album, "Atom Drum Bop". This was a startlingly diverse album that showed off The John's musical abilities to the fore; grim predictions of the future (Sun Of Mud, 3 Junk), nestled in alongside quirky anthems, (Teenage Nightingales To Wax, The Devil's Music), howling free form experimentation, (FirePits), and even balladrey, (the haunting "No Place".) With critical acclaim and the approval of DJ John Peel behind them, the following year's release of "Death Of The European", arguably the definitive Johns track, looked set to break them. Unfortunately, the track's release coincided with the Heysel football stadium tragedy, so received no mainstream airplay.
Undeterred, the Johns retreated back to the studio, and in 1986 released their second album, "The World By Storm", their most musically accessible, and most overtly political album. Taking in subjects ranging from alcoholism ("Demon Drink"), US imperialism ("Torches Of Liberty", the title track), the conservative government's destruction of the north of england ("Sold Down The River", "Coals To Newcastle"), and the 20th century's deadly obsession with vehicles ("King Car"), it was a powerful, prophetic album, with Hyatt's powers as a lyricist becoming ever more apparent. It was followed that same year by the "Live In Chicago" album, a unique record in that it featured covers of both Madonna ("Like A Virgin"), AND Marxist skinhead soul band The Redskins ! ("The Reds Strike The Blues"). There was also a compilation album, called "Deathrocker Scrapbook", a cassette - only album comprised of previously unreleased demoes.
The following year saw the release of The Johns third studio album, "The Death Of Everything." This was a highly experimental, left- field album; less musically polished, perhaps, than it's predecessors, but with some undoubtedly fine moments. Particularly memorable were the sneering put downs of "Bullshitiaco", the sinister rhythms of "Go Ahead Bikini", and the driving rock of single "Never And Always", produced by ON-U-SOUND man Adrian Sherwood. Work and family commitments meant the johns' output became considerably less prolific, but in 1990 they managed to record a fourth studio album, "Eat Your Sons", a cynical, darkly humorous record which featured attacks on everything from plastic punks to fat cat conglomerates, faceless record execs and the royal family.