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John Otway

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Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom (1972 – present)

John Otway, (born October 2, 1952, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom) is a self-confessed unsuccessful singer songwriter, who built a large cult audience through unrelenting touring, a surreal sense of humour and a winning underdog personality.

Although his first single, Gypsy/Misty Mountain was released in 1972, Otway shot to fame on the back of punk rock and a gymnastic performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test. His sixth single, the half-spoken love song Really Free reached number 27 in the UK Singles Chart in 1977. It would be his greatest success for some time and consequently is still easy to track down on the second-hand market. Much scarcer is the picture cover which was only present on a small proportion of the singles. Rarer still, and almost impossible to find, is the advertising sleeve, a die-cut thin paper sleeve printed with an advert for the debut album, snippets of newspaper and magazine reviews and a cut-out “Really Free” body sticker. The song earned him a five album deal with Polydor Records, who viewed him as a punk rather than merely an eccentric.

John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett
His first album, recorded with Wild Willy Barrett, was produced by Pete Townshend but sold only fitfully. The follow-up singles fared no better despite some imaginative promotion, which included an offer for Otway to come to a buyer’s house and perform the 1979 single, Frightened And Scared, if their copy was one of only three copies from which the vocal had been omitted.

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