John Glockler died on 13 December 2016 after a long illness. His funeral took place at Eltham on 18 January 2017. He was at Goldsmiths from 1967 to 1970 and played a significant role in the social life of the College, in particular as Social Secretary in 1968/9. John was very popular and will be missed deeply by all his friends.
He was the second of three brilliant and imaginative Goldsmiths Students’ Union Social Secretaries who covered the period 1967-1970, the others being Greg Conway (1967-68) and Dave Riddle (1969-70). In 1967 the music industry, led by Chris Wright and Terry Ellis (who later founded Chrysalis Records), turned towards the university and college circuit as a more lucrative market for their performers. Greg, John and Dave seized this opportunity to provide Goldsmiths students with the biggest and the best of bands. In total they booked more than 150 acts, giving us a musical legacy it is difficult to forget and Goldsmiths’ College a reputation as a place to hear the best in music.
Here is a small selection of the acts that John, Greg and Dave booked – 1967 to 1970
- Cream, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Moody Blues, Traffic, Jethro Tull, Hawkwind, King Crimson, Love
- Pentangle, Bert Jansch, John Martyn, Gordon Giltrap, John Renbourne
- Judy Collins, Julie Driscoll with Brian Auger & The Trinity, Christine McVie with Chicken Shack
- Georgie Fame, Yardbirds, Chris Farlow, Pretty Things, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band
- Ambrose Slade (renamed later as Slade), Atomic Rooster, East of Eden
- The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Liverpool Scene, Scaffold
- Muddy Waters, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup1
John was a big blues fan and he was overjoyed when he booked two of his favourites – Muddy Waters and Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup. Crudup was a blues legend who had written ‘That’s Alright’, Elvis Presley’s first recording. It was Arthur’s only trip to the UK and he gave a memorable performance in the Small Hall (now the cinema) transporting his audience from New Cross back across the water to Nassawadox, Virginia.
John’s decision to bring Muddy Waters to Goldsmiths brought blues fans from across the UK for a rare opportunity to see their hero, cementing the College’s reputation for music.
In 1969 John formed a rock’n’roll group, aptly named Johnny Rock and the Prowlers. John as Johnny Rock on vocals, Julian Bailey on lead guitar, Alan Hales on bass, David Mason on piano and Frank Kelly on drums. When John Glockler took on the Johnny Rock persona, it was a Jekyll and Hyde transformation. This quiet and modest man delivered every number with a unique style of a-tonal screaming aggression, spitting out each word at the audience in an anarcho-punk style that predated Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols by almost a decade. Johnny Rock and the Prowlers performed at the Goldsmiths Arts Festival in 1969. One of the Festival organisers was Malcolm Edwards, later known as Malcolm McLaren. He must have seen John perform. Is it too much to claim a causal link between Johnny Rock and Johnny Rotten?
John decided not to become a teacher but instead established a highly successful career in the music industry, first at Chris Wellard’s record shop in New Cross and then as company treasurer at Proper Music, helping it to become the UK’s largest independent distributor with annual sales of over £25m.
Looking back at Goldsmiths during the sixties, there is much to remember and amongst all the memories will be the music, perhaps lying deep in our subconscious, to be released by an accidental hearing of an old number, and suddenly you are back in the Great Hall listening to one of the bands that John booked. And that is why we owe an immense debt of gratitude to John, both for the times and for the memories.
David Mason (Smith News editor 1968/9)