John Dyson was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, in 1948. He has always been interested in music as, at the age of 5 or so he is reported by his family to have ‘composed’ on the old family piano! (Lord knows what it sounded like…JD!!!).
Around the age of 12 he became aware of the music of The Shadows and was hooked by the ‘sound’ and was eventually presented with a ‘cheap’ Spanish-style guitar for Christmas! He then discovered that even tough he enjoyed picking out the notes to The Shadows melodies, that the ‘sound’ wasn’t exactly the same!!
After asking around he found out about
the ‘electric’ side of things and all the equipment that produced the
sound that he loved; but, it was many years before he was able to
acquire the necessary ‘gear’ (we were poor, JD!). Eventually he found
the means to purchase a 4-track recorder and experimented both with
recording and writing his own melodies which was to shape his future
During the early 80’s he noticed an advertisement in an ‘electronics’ magazine from someone who was interested in music and technology and looking for anyone interested in the same in the Sheffield (UK) area. This was David Ward-Hunt and when they met up they found that their differing musical styles complimented each other.
David’s music was based on ‘sequencer/synthesiser’ generated rhythms and effects via tape-manipulation (His wife Brenda, called it ‘swamp-music!! JD) with John’s being more ‘melody’ based. They soon found that they were spending more time copying cassette tapes for family and friends than writing music!!!
This led to the release of their first cassette release under their name ‘Wavestar’. That album, ‘Mind Journey’(1984) became a huge success; a copy was to find its way to the hands of Denis and Jeanette Emsley, two of the UK’s main EM supporters, who ran the cassette-based magazine ‘Inkeys’.
John and Dave were just ‘too late’ to be invited to the 1984 UK Electronica Festival which Inkeys organised; so, they were ‘booked’ straight away for the 1985 Festival, conveniently to be held in their home town of Sheffield at the University. That appearance led to scenes of adulation un-heard of before and the ‘word’ spread very quickly!
Further concerts and their second cassette release ‘Zenith’(1985) served to push Wavestar’s reputation to a new level. During the next three years they were headlining the UK’s prestigious UK Electronica Festival and received offers to play in France and Spain (although the Spanish one didn’t happen, (a pity!! JD)
It was almost inevitable that a record label would realise the importance of the duo and it transpired that they were offered a contract by the Audion Recording Company label in the USA, run by one Larry (Synergy) Fast; this was a sub-division of the well respected Jem Records based in New Jersey. This album was to become the now-classic ‘Moonwind’, released on all three (then) formats, including high-quality vinyl. The album received high critical acclaim the world over.
However, Jem Records then went ‘bust’ (for reasons still unknown to the musicians to this day) and into administration in the USA with not a penny being received by ‘Wavestar’. This put a huge strain on the duo and the band split in 1989 following some ‘personal difficulties’ also. John, now completely disillusioned with the whole business, seriously questioned his future.
Anthony Thrasher, a stalwart co-organiser of UK Electronica and a personal friend of John proposed the idea of setting up a label of their own. This was to become ‘Surreal to Real’ and John’s first ‘solo’ album ‘Evolution’ was released in 1989. It was to become an all-time EM best-seller! The album won a ‘highly-commended’ award the same year from ‘Which CD?’ magazine, in the ‘Best New Age Album’ category.
In 1991 the second JD release was ‘Aquarelle’ which was to secure his place in the forefront of the world EM scene. A kind critique of the album said that it was ‘John, painting with sound’, a very apt description.
Following two appearances at the excellent Dutch KLEM festival ‘KLEMDAG’ John was given ‘headline’ billing for a THIRD time! An appearance (guest) at the ‘Schwingungen’ outside broadcast event in Germany brought several hundred fans out to see their ‘hero’! John’s ‘live’ shows are renowned for his sense of humour and the energy and rapport he generates with his audience.
A ‘live’ concert for BBC Radio Derby in the UK became a sell-out, once more underlining the popularity he can generate. The success of the event came as a surprise to the organisers somewhat as they were more used to audiences of less than 100 for most local radio concerts!
John’s 1994 album ‘Different Values’ gave him the opportunity to explore territory both from the ‘Wavestar’ days and find new ways of expressing his outlook on life in general. An appearance at the EMMA 94 festival in Derby (UK) gave his fans a chance to hear the music, in the UK, for a change!
In 1996, John released what was to be his final album on ‘Surreal to Real’, ‘Beyond the Gates’. Some folk say this is an even more ‘personal’ album than the previous one, and some say ‘better’, though the man himself may have something to say on that! There is an ‘almost’ tribute to a certain other ‘Mr.Gates’ on the album and some would say sums up John’s outlook once more.
During 1996 John became once more disillusioned to say the very least since most of the album funds were not seemingly finding their way to his studio with a view to replacing some the now ‘long in the tooth’ equipment (especially the recording side, JD).
Details obviously cannot be gone into here of course, but it was decided quite amicably that it would be better if he left ‘Surreal’ and he would then pursue what he decided would be the best course for him.
After a long break and some not inconsiderable thought, he decided that as there were some ‘un-released’ and ‘experimental’ tracks done during the latter ‘Wavestar’ days, he would release these on his own label, using this as a ‘test-bed’ for reaction to the music and his own status.
This album was to be ‘Out of Time’, featuring tracks from the late-‘Wavestar’ period of 1986-’88; some of which were to from the basis of the follow-up to the classic ‘Moonwind’ but as we said above the USA label went broke so the music was never released.
Therefore they were now available on CD for the first time on a joint-project with John’s new label ‘Soddett Hall’ and the well-respected ‘Groove Unlimited’ label in the Netherlands, with the excellent help and co-operation of Ron, Kees , Robert, and all at Groove Unlimited (NL).
In April 1998 John Dyson was awarded by ‘Schwingungen’ (Hr Winfreid Trenkler’s organisation) in Germany, a special prize for his ‘complete work’ in Electronic Music. Also, the song ‘Crystal Ashes’ from the album ‘Out of Time’ (Wavestar) was voted ‘best song of 1997’. The complete CD was voted No.7 in the category ‘best CD’ of that year.
In May 1998 there was a THIRD re-release of the famous ‘Moonwind’ album, again a joint venture between ‘Soddett Hall’ and ‘Groove Unlimited’. Due to high popular demand (and John being voted the artiste most people wanted to see in 1997), he was invited with his friends to perform at the KLEMDAG 1998 festival, and even Sir Paul McCartney dropped in to see them.
In 1999 (July 19th) David Ward-Hunt passed away from this life. May he rest in peace; (I’m sure he’ll still be listening in somewhere, JD xx)
In April 2001 a re-mastered version of ‘Zenith’ was released by ‘Groove Unlimited’ and this great-sounding album contains a ‘bonus’ track.
In 2002 John moved to a new house in Derbyshire (UK) not far from his original home in Sheffield (17 miles). It was the house that his dear friend Joe left to him after he passed away in 2001 (4 days after 9/11…a dreadful time….JD). Joe can be heard on the album ‘Different Values’ where he recites a poem by Donald F. Sainsbury, written for John in appreciation of his kindness, and to sum up his outlook once more.
In 2003 John and Groove re-released ‘Moonwind’ again!! This time with new artwork as the pressing plant had lost it (again)!
Also re-released is his great solo album debut ‘Evolution’ from 1989. This was originally released on ‘Surreal to Real’ and then re-printed with new artwork in 1992. This new version once more has another version of the artwork as the previous two were lost (again!) The music was re-mastered and the album has a bonus track ‘Dying Eagle’ from a concert performance in the Netherlands.
At the end of the year 2003 John was finding life a little tough at his day-job to say the least and, with his friend Jack, who had also been ill, they decided the time was right to ‘move on’ and consequently moved home to Scotland in early 2004 (Tarbert, Argyll). A complete rest from the music scene was in order for the two of them; there would be no point in ‘dropping dead’ through over-work!!
In 2006 a re-mastered version of the first ‘Wavestar’ album ‘Mind Journey’ was released by ‘Groove’ and also contains a bonus track from a ‘Wavestar’ live concert in France in 1988.
During 2008, John was contacted by one Andy Garibaldi, who had been instrumental (no pun intended, JD!) in the UK Electronica Festivals in the past. He mentioned that this year would be the 25th anniversary of the very first UKE in 1983 and he was thinking that although the festival had not actually taken place for a number of years (that’s another long story! JD) he didn’t want to let the date go by without anything at all happening.
So, he took the plunge once more and organised an event here in Scotland (where he now lives) in Dundee for October. Everyone felt really sorry for him as it turned out that 6 days before the concert, the ‘Health and Safety’ people condemned the venue!
This meant that poor old Andy had to find a replacement venue for a full-day festival in 6 days!! Impossible of course, but he triumphed and managed to get a venue for the afternoon period. John says it was a blast to play once more with the usual ‘Sheffield Mafia’ (his friends, Shaun, Mark, Damian, and Stephan Whitlan (from Eire!); and to see ‘old faces’ such as Jeanette (formerly) Emsley and her daughter Melanie and folks remembered from all the gigs in the past! Well done Andy G for rescuing an almost impossible situation.
This led to Jeanette’s daughter asking JD to do her a ‘favour’; would he write something for her Mum as she had no idea what to get her for a Christmas present and she (Jeanette) thought JD was a lovely guy etc etc. (Huh…amazin’ what they’ll say…..JD!!). John had of course still been writing music in his ‘break’ period (and recording the ‘D’lear’ band, now ‘KiK’…and making the tea!….JD), so he put together a special version of what was to become the title track on his latest album ‘Darklight’ especially for Jeanette. Of course she was thrilled and delighted with it!!
After a somewhat ‘fraught’ concert at Dundee, the great guys at Groove then contacted John to offer him a head-line performance at the ‘E-Day’ Festival in April 2009 in Oirschot (NL). John contacted his friends once more to see if they were available and accepted. Obviously, there had to now be a new album, so work commenced on the ‘bits and pieces’ stored in the digital depths of the computer!
The concert was a huge success thanks to the efforts of all at Groove Unlimited and the Theatre De Enck in Oirschot, and the album ‘Darklight’ has been received extremely well with one fan saying ‘it is his best ever’ (maybe John would comment at some stage!!). The band received a ‘standing ovation’ and two encores on the day! The album is released on John’s own ‘Soddett Hall’ label as the first ‘independent’ release.
To date John is working on material for this site and of course still trying to update the studio!! But he will carry on working on some more music I’m reliably informed!!